THE CIDER HOUSE RULES
About The Production
John Irving's novels have earned world wide acclaim and numerous awards. The Cider House Rules was an immediate bestseller, and has become one of his best-loved works. It is his second-most widely read novel. The Philadelphia Inquirer called it Irving's "best novel" and said "He is among the very best storytellers at work today. At the base of Irving's own moral concerns is a rare and lasting regard for human kindness." The Boston Globe called it "An old fashioned, big-hearted novel ... with its epic yearning caught in the nineteenth century, somewhere between Trollope and Twain," and praised "The rich detail
makes for vintage Irving." The venerable New York Times Book Review proclaimed it "Witty, tenderhearted, fervent, and scarifying. This novel is an example, now rare, of the courage of imaginative ardor."
Taking The Cider House Rules from novel to film became a thirteen-year odyssey for Irving. He recounts this journey, as well as others, in his upcoming book, My Movie Business.
Irving began to write the screenplay soon after the novel was published, working with director Philip Borsos. This screenplay originally came to life in Paul Newman's living room, where the actor, with Borsos and Irving, hosted a reading. Among the participants was Delroy Lindo.
"I first heard the actor I wanted as Mr. Rose — Deiroy Lindo — read the part that day in Paul's living room. It has made me very happy that Delroy ended up (all these years later) with the part," Irving says.
The project stalled when, tragically, Borsos became terminally ill.
"Phillip died of cancer at the age of forty-one. We had become very close friends over the course of this long collaboration. I was devastated to lose him as a friend, and for quite some time I felt that "The Cider House Rules" would never be made.
However, the book's descriptive, powerful prose and idiosyncratic, memorable characters had made a profound impression on producer Richard Gladstein and he was determined to bring it to the screen.
"The relationships and the issues that the book and the film deal with, the choices people have to make and the humanity that pervades the book intrigued me. The world in which the characters live, the idea of family, dealing with who your family is, the responsibility and consequences of love and friendship, racial
issues, abortion, these are all fascinating topics. The way the story is told, in a very Dickensian way, also engaged me," says Gladstein.
Although parts of the book and all of the film are set in the 1930s-1940s, Gladstein adds that the dilemmas facing the characters are universal, contemporary and relevant.
"There is a line from David Copperfield that Homer reads to the orphans:
'Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by someone else, these pages must show.' In some respects, that is what the film is about. And the choices one makes throughout life, the rules one chooses to live by, how they affect you and others around you. Fates are resolved, heroes emerge and the emotional fiber of the book and, hopefully, the film is so engaging and poignant. For me, the bottom line is that it is the most emotionally rich and rewarding story I've ever read. It is captivating from the beginning to end and I became obsessed with making it into a film. If the audience is half as emotionally rewarded by the film as by reading the book, that's enough reward for anyone," Gladstein says.
Gladstein and his wife visited Irving at his home in Vermont. "I liked him from our first meeting, and we fairly quickly agreed to find a director we both liked — something that proved more difficult than either of us ever expected," Irving says.
Eventually, Gladstein and Ir
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