Tom Jones Screen 5 articles

Tom Jones


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  • How would Richardson tackle a period film in color, something quite outside his experience? The answer was: with gusto. He and his screenwriter, the playwright John Osborne, agreed there was only one way to approach an irreverent novel like Tom Jones: that is, irreverently. Their adaptation performs wonders in compressing Fielding’s nine-hundred-page opus into a film lasting a little over two hours, while ensuring that not only are the major incidents all there but also the main themes.

  • Where Kubrick [with Barry Lyndon] would exactingly recreate the period to stress his audience's distance from it, Richardson and screenwriter John Osbourne (who also wrote A Look Back in Anger) employed all sorts of modern storytelling devices--primarily sight gags borrowed from silent comedies--to create common ground between the past and present. The film ends up simplifying a lot of Fielding's rich plotting and characterization, though it's still fun on its own terms.

  • A silent film-inspired, quick edit, slapstick prologue punctuated by explicative intertitles and a sprightly harpsichord accompaniment sets the irreverent, whimsical tone for Tony Richardson's freeverse adaptation of Henry Fielding's beloved eighteenth century novel, Tom Jones, transforming the beloved comedy of manners satire as a giddy fusion of burlesque and Keystone Kops epic adventure.

  • Despite the fitful energy and the beauty of the settings, the ugliness of the mise en scene and the crudity of the editing tend to triumph. Aping the stylistic eclecticism of Truffaut and Godard during the same period, the movie is too lacking in grace and finesse to provide anything more than broad and mainly random vaudeville turns.

  • This is a joke of character, a monstrously funny joke based on the rupture of a paternal obligation by an atavistic impulse. Richardson loses the joke completely because he has created such a zany atmosphere that Squire Western's action seems entirely normal. As for the editing of the action on film, a process the French call découpage, Richardson displays a clumsiness that would be beyond mere technique if it were not so obviously beneath it.

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