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Thursday, 22 August, 2002, 13:15 GMT 14:15 UK
Author's regrets over Captain Corelli film
Penelope Cruz and Nicholas Cage
Penelope Cruz and Nicholas Cage starred in film

The author of best-selling novel Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres, has spoken of his disappointment at the way his world-famous novel was adapted for the screen.

Speaking at the Edinburgh book festival, de Bernieres said his original plans for a "European arthouse" film were taken over by Hollywood and carried out very differently from how he expected.

Captain Corelli's Mandolin tells the story of the Italian occupation of the Greek Island of Cephallonia during World War II. Though intrinsically a love story, it masks none of the brutality of conflict.

Addressing the audience, de Bernieres said: "When I decided to sell the option for the movie it was on the understanding that it would go to a European film-maker. I even expected it to be in Italian.

Author Louis de Bernières
De Bernieres: Book has sold two million copies

"But they (US film-makers) tried to make a really big Hollywood motion picture. It was a pretty good shot that very nearly made it - but in the end the whole thing did not ring true for me."

He outlined specific changes he would want to make including, putting in a lot more of the book's dialogue, making the music "more manly" and focusing more on the young Italian men.

De Bernieres's book has sold two million copies worldwide, and the news that a film version was to be made had been greeted with much excitement.

'Beg'

But when it was released the response from fans and critics was muted, and it did not become the huge box office success that had been expected.

It starred Hollywood actor Nicolas Cage and Spanish actress Penelope Cruz and the romance in the story is brought to the fore.

De Bernieres said that trying to raise the money to make a movie meant almost having to "beg" American film backers, making it almost inevitable that they would want a lot of input to make the film marketable in the US.

When Captain Corelli's Mandolin was published, there were criticisms levelled at de Bernieres that his depiction of the Greek partisans in the book was racist and that he had rewritten history.

'Fat books'

De Bernieres told the book festival audience that he would not be publishing his new collection just yet.

He said he wanted to put out a "decent fat volume - I don't agree with thin books".

Since Captain Corelli's Mandolin, de Bernieres has been working on a collection of short stories.

At the book festival, he read a couple of his new tales set in the rural area of the south of the UK, thinly masked as Surrey.

De Bernieres said the stories were inspired by his childhood, which was also spent in Surrey.

"In many ways it was a highly entertaining place, full of retired colonels and spinsters and people who got up to curious things," he said.

"In particular, there was a convent of nuns a the top of the hill who were so mad that when you saw some coming you had to pull over to the side."

Coverage of the 2002 Edinburgh Festival from BBC News Online

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See also:

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