September 29, 2014 / 8:18 AM / 4 years ago

Leper colony novel would make great film, producer tells Greene fest

BERKHAMSTED England (Reuters) - Writer Graham Greene’s novel set in a leper colony in the Belgian Congo would make a great film, the producer of the 1999 film of Greene’s “The End of the Affair” said.

Stephen Woolley told the annual Graham Greene festival this weekend that he would like to produce “A Burnt-Out Case,” the story of an architect named Querry who moves from Europe to the colony to escape fame and women.

“It would be a great film - we can give the claustrophobia that’s so important to the book of going into this jungle. We can make that place fetid,” he said.

Issues over rights with Greene’s estate meant he could not yet commission a film script for the book, Woolley told the festival in the southern English town of Berkhamsted, Greene’s birthplace.

Woolley’s other films include the Oscar-winning “The Crying Game”.

Greene’s most famous novels include “Brighton Rock” and “The Power and the Glory”. Many have been adapted for film, some more than once. But “A Burnt-Out Case” is one of the few of which no film has been made.

Among more recent adaptations, Ralph Fiennes and Julianne Moore starred in “The End of the Affair”, set in wartime London, and Michael Caine starred in “The Quiet American,” set in 1950s Vietnam and released in 2002.

“His writing is so cinematic,” film critic Quentin Falk told the festival.

Greene, who died in 1991, wrote some screenplays himself, probably the most famous being “The Third Man”, a thriller of the “film noir” genre set in post-war Vienna and starring Orson Welles.

The dark themes of film noir classics are similar to the world of Greene’s literature - known as Greeneland - in which the characters often face moral dilemmas.

“Greeneland is a territory of the embattled psyche - Greeneland could be called the land of noir,” said Brian McDonnell, a senior lecturer at Massey University in Auckland, New Zealand.

Attendees at the festival included Greene’s daughter Caroline Bourget, as well as local residents and students and academics of film and literature, from as far afield as Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the United States.

Festival activities ranged from Graham Greene reading groups and a literary quiz to a walking tour of Berkhamsted, one of the settings for Greene’s novel “The Human Factor.”

Editing by Angus MacSwan

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