Friday, December 09, 2005

on making a film version of C.S. Lewis' "The Screwtape Letters"

One of the items in my schedule today is seeing the new film “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” I have been looking forward to seeing this film adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ book.

The other work of his that I wouldn’t mind seeing in a film version is his “Screwtape Letters.” Now this might be a bit more difficult to make into a film, but with Hollywood, all things are nearly possible.

So, the “Screwtape Letters” are basically letters written to an apprentice devil (Wormwood) by a senior devil (Screwtape) who was given the responsibility of training the apprentice in tempting a human being. It’s a very clever book and I sometimes read one letter now and then for amusement.

I had thought that if someone were to make this into a film, the British actor Nigel Hawthorne (Yes, Prime Minister; The Madness of King George) would have made a fine Screwtape. He’s deceased now, but he would have captured that bureaucratically-sounding, professorial, ironic, and twisted voice of Screwtape.

But in lieu of Hawthorne, I think Ian Richardson (The House of Cards) would make a fine Screwtape. If it has to be an American, maybe Alec Baldwin, or even Jack Nicholson.

As for the apprentice devil, well, I recently saw Dogma on DVD, so Matt Damon who played a devil in that film would work fine as Wormwood.

There is the role of the temptee, who is male in Lewis’ book.....Now I have no ideas for him right now, nor for his love interest. But Screwtape describes her so vividly in the book that I am sure some casting director out there would find an actress suitable for the part.

Here is the devil Screwtape’s description of the temptee’s love interest, who happens to be a strong, holy Christian. It’s hilarious:

I have looked up this girl’s dossier and am horrified at what I find. Not only a Christian but such a Christian—a vile, sneaking, simpering, demure, monosyllabic, mouselike, watery, insignificant virginal, bread-and-butter miss! The little brute! She makes me vomit. She stinks and scalds through the very pages of the dossier. It drives me mad, the way the world has worsened. We’d have her to the arena in the old days. That’s what her sort is made for. Not that she’d do much good there. A two-faced little cheat (I know the sort) who looks as if she’d faint at the sight of blood, and then dies with a smile. A cheat every way. Looks as if butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, and yet has a satirical wit. The sort of creature who’d find ME funny! Filthy, insipid little prude—and yet ready to fall into this booby’s arms like any other breeding animal. Why doesn’t the Enemy [i.e., God] blast her for it, if He’s so moonstruck by virginity----instead of look on there, grinning?

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