It's time for Faulkner's close-up

OXFORD – William Faulkner and the written word go together like William Faulkner and the written word.
But Oxford’s own literary giant hasn’t been confined to pages in a book. The University of Mississippi’s 2010 Faulkner amp& Yoknapatawpha Conference will highlight the writer’s connection to the big screen.
“He was interested in the movies,” said Don Kartiganer, conference director. “He was good at script-writing – not great, but competent – and he worked very quickly.”
In the 1930s, he was a writer for hire in Hollywood, and applied his keen eye for character and story as a “script doctor.”
“He could see the situation, and the director tells him what he wants,” Kartiganer said. “He could go in a room and rewrite the script in a hurry.”
During the conference, a scholar from Australia will argue that storytelling techniques from Hollywood found their way into Faulkner’s fiction. It’s an argument that Kartiganer finds easy to believe.
“I think the movies’ influence on him is more important than his influence on the movies,” Kartiganer said.
You won’t have to take anyone’s word for it because the 37th Faulkner amp& Yoknapatawpha Conference also will be a mini-film festival. It’ll feature adaptations of his novels and short stories, as well as samples from his screenplays.
Films will include “The Road to Glory,” “The Leg,” “Sanctuary,” “Two Soldiers,” “Barn Burning,” “Tomorrow,” “Old Man,” “The Tarnished Angels” and “A Rose for Emily.”
In addition, copies of Faulkner’s screenplays, as well as others’ adaptations of his screenplays, will be available for study.
From page to screen
A diverse group of literary scholars and film professionals will share their views on the give-and-take between Faulkner and Hollywood.
Film producer Lee Caplin represents Faulkner’s literary estate, and he produced the movie version of “Two Soldiers.”
“He’s going to speak on the whole question of how you adapt a novel to the screen,” Kartiganer said.
Since this is a Faulkner conference, it won’t be all happiness and light. The ’30s were a wonderful time in Hollywood, but the ’40s turned dreary for the man from Mississippi.
“He got locked into a seven-year contract with Warner Bros. for $300 a week,” Kartiganer said. “Nobody was getting that kind of money. The other writers were getting much more.”
The conference promises a peek behind the Hollywood glamour and into one of Faulkner’s most productive periods as a writer.
“Faulkner in Hollywood is actually the only time in his whole life that he spends serious time with other creative people,” Kartiganer said. “He was working with people who were creating a whole new way of telling stories. It was a very exciting time.”
Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or

You’re invited
– What: The University of Mississippi’s 37th Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference
– When: July 18-22,
– Where: Oxford and the University of Mississippi
– Tickets: $175/students, $275/Friends of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture,
– Info: (662) 915-7283,
– Extra: Activities will include lectures, literary discussions, movie screenings, tours, exhibits and parties piece.

M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

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