Quotation by John Simon

Some years ago, writing about stage adaptations of fiction, I noted: "There is a simple law governing the dramatization of novels: if it is worth doing, it can't be done; if it can be done, it's not worth doing." Certain reviewers did me the honor of calling this Simon's Law, and I might as well state it now as far as the screen is concerned, "Simon's Law" may still serve as a useful warning but has no legality. For two reasons. First, because unlike the stage, the screen possesses as many resources as fiction, so that, for example, extended narration is possible on screen, backed up by an extensive visual scenario, but not on the stage, where it must become monotonous; similarly, stream of consciousness has its filmic equivalents in montage, voice-over dialogue, closeups and extreme closeups, dissolves, etc., whereas on stage, as mere verbiage, it cannot fail to bore. Secondly, because the screen can fully illustrate what the novel can only name or describe. Of course, this is a mixed blessing, because such illustration can make things overexplicit and oppressive; still, it is there as a resource for those who can effectively handle it.
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