As I Lay Dying Screen 5 articles

As I Lay Dying


As I Lay Dying Poster
  • If we always kill the thing we love, then Franco is truly head over heels for this literary game changer: Split-screen compositions, direct address to the audience and dense, near-indecipherable dialogue may be intended as an equivalent to Faulkner’s narrative loop-the-loops or as a demonstration of fidelity to the author’s regional prose, but they quickly smother whatever greatness was inherent in the material.

  • Franco's readiness in approaching famously abstract source material certainly doesn't translate well into his directorial formalism, or, more appropriately, lack of formalism. While the film version of As I Lay Dying remains incredibly faithful to the original story, its sloppy production values enact the text into a hastily assembled affair, with Faulkner's dreamscape world of the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi being only half-realized.

  • Sometimes one half [of the screen] shows a character’s face and the other that character’s point of view; at other moments, the split screen is used to show different takes of the same shot. The two halves don’t always cut at the same time, which means that a scene might keep going on the right side of the screen while the next one starts on the left. The effect... is fascinating. Whether it’s ultimately meaningful, however, is a different question.

  • This is not the giggling irritant Franco of his Oscar-hosting and inept film criticism, but one with humility who (as he put it) wants to do right by Faulkner. The obvious downside to this careful avoidance of feather-ruffling is a drab adequacy that keeps the film from being more than serviceable.

  • Franco’s As I Lay Dying is an earnest attempt to use the visual power of cinema to convey the pain and pathos of the Bundrens’ condition, and to gesture to the demanding nature of Faulkner’s story-telling style. While there are limitations to how deeply the film reflects the profoundly searching nature of Faulkner’s modernism, the making of it is no minor undertaking, and the final product is a commendable and provocative project.

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