Sold Out

It was meant to show the perversity of the human mind. A hero who's not one rising to the pinnacle of the small world he had created for himself before meeting not just his culprit but his judge and executioner. That's how he could become a true hero - by facing up to what he did, accepting his punishment and submitting to the punishment of the kangaroo court, appointed to oversee the final deed.

It was his greatest play. In none other had his concept of the courageous man risen to such heights. And the highlight was that final scene when the town mayor offered him the honourable way out. The torment of mind his hero betrayed was an unequalled feat. Yet he knew, his hero must not succumb. If hero he was to be, then justice must be done. And justice could only come by the accusers carrying out the sentence themselves.

The shock in the auditorium could still be felt minutes after the final curtain went down. The applause hesitated. When it did come, it was subdued. But the true applause, the one that expressed genuine appreciation came when the audience remained hushed in their chairs long after the last actor left the stage.

The next day the papers raved and the play went down as one of the masterpieces of 20th Century theatre. No other piece had issued such a condemning verdict upon the idea of human progress so widespread at the time.

That was before Hollywood got hold of the play. In postwar Hollywood such dark sentiments were taboo. And so just as the hero was about to undergo his ultimate destiny, not fate but an incompetent Hollywood script writer stepped in, and with the stroke of a pen had his executioner repent of her sentence, thus rendering the film meaningless.

I'd like to think that the author turned in his grave at this point. Unfortunately, he was still alive and - so I've heard - actually condoned the new version. It makes me wonder whether the riches he acquired for so doing could be contested on the grounds that he was not of sound mind.


What play is it? Who is the author? Do tell! I'm interested in knowing! I like your post, uncovering the lack of insight the mainstream often has for true innovation and self-criticism. Art which reflects our sad reality.

A Fairy Tale

20 June 2008 at 17:45  

son of a gun --- i'm confounded as well to know the play - but in any event, i say bravo to your post - sold out - how clever!!!

21 June 2008 at 01:02  

The play is a German play written by the Swiss author Friedrich D├╝rrenmatt. It's title "Der Besuch der Alten Dame" (The Visit of the Old Lady). It was filmed by Hollywood under the title "The Visit".

21 June 2008 at 06:47  

I fear this happens in Hollywood films far too often. Producers take a perfectly good book and turn it into something completely different; something they think will be more palatable to the masses.

I wonder if there is an author therapy group in the hereafter called Bastardized Authors Anonymous?

21 June 2008 at 17:12  

How sad that a great play could be so mistreated by Hollywood. Is it still produced in the theater or has Hollywood's version poisoned the waters?

22 June 2008 at 02:04  

i shudder at the thought... sunset blvd maybe??

24 June 2008 at 00:03  

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