FilmInk speaks to Dickens pro, Adrian Wootton, whose lectures at MIFF present the famed author as a great innovator and creator within the medium of cinema.
Adrian Wootton (pictured and Chief Executive of Film London – anyone who caught Wootton’s illustrated talks at last year’s MIFF about the films of Elvis Presley will understand that the man knows his stuff) is suggesting something outrageous. Charles Dickens created film.
Okay – so perhaps he’s not suggesting that exactly. Wootton is touring the world in 2012 to promote the 200th anniversary of Dickens’ birth, and his program of lectures and documentaries will show in 66 countries. The idea is simple – to remind people of just how much the novelist contributed to modern film. When Dickens began writing in a time in the 1800’s before film existed, he was cutting and editing scenes in his novels in a form of montage that we still use today.
“I knew from an early age that Dickens was constantly being adapted, and that his novels, his stories, lent themselves to cinema,” says Wootton, for whom the books and adaptations have been a big influence.
“When I studied Dickens at university, I began to understand just how many [Dickens] movies had been made. And I realise that he’d been a great source of inspiration and adaptation for filmmakers,” says Wootton. “Pioneers – people like D.W Griffith, and especially Sergei Eisenstein talked about the influence that Dickens had had on them, and on the cinema. I started to realise the connection between the way Dickens wrote, and why filmmakers found him so easy to adapt.”
Wootton believes that it was Dickens’s flair for imagery, grotesque characterisation and scene writing that made him a pioneer. “And he almost set the DNA for cinema language in a way that no other writer of his time – Thackeray, George Elliot, Jane Austin – did. Because writers after him were influenced by cinema. He influenced the creation of cinema before cinema existed, which is an astonishing thing to say,” says Wootton. “But when you look at the evidence – we can prove it.”
Wootton is presenting his two remaining lectures Saturday, August 18 and Sunday, August 19 with each followed by documentaries. On Saturday, Wootton will present Adrian Wootton Illustrated Film Talk: The Life of Dickens, which will be followed by his documentary Dickens on Film. On Sunday, Wootton will present Adrain Wootton Illustrated Film Talk: Dickens, Crime Fiction and Film, followed by the documentary Dickens in London. For more information and to book tickets, head here.