THE END OF THE AFFAIR
About The Production
The End of the Affair is arguably Graham Greene's most autobiographical
novel, taking as its inspiration his adulterous love affair with American
Catherine Walston, who was married to a wealthy farmer. The book is dedicated to
her. Greene's biographer, Norman Sherry, has called their relationship "the
greatest literary affair of this century."
Neil Jordan, who first read the Graham Greene original many years ago,
believes it is also his finest novel. "It's the simplest of stories, but
the dramatic core is very strong, and its focus on the irrational is very
relevant to contemporary life.
"I read it again seven or eight years ago," continues Jordan.
"I saw that it would make a very interesting movie. I was really interested
in the basic plot, that the structure of this love affair was seen so
differently by the two protagonists."
Surprisingly, adapting the complexities of this intense novel for the screen
wasn't as difficult as one might anticipate. "Greene is great at moral
dilemmas, and specifically human dilemmas," says Jordan. "What I
needed to do was bring the human drama to the surface and find a way of making
the whole thing understandable and believable in human terms."
For Jordan, the predicament that Sarah finds herself in when she believes
Bendrix is dead after the bombing is simple, and one that audiences can relate
to on a basic level. "She does what everybody would do-she prays. She says,
please turn time back and let this not happen. When Bendrix walks in the door,
she is stuck with this dilemma-does she go back on what she's said or not?"
The character of Bendrix was an amalgam of both real and literary sources.
Jordan created half of the tortured novelist from the Bendrix that Greene had
written, but also sculpted him around Greene's life as well. "I wanted the
movie to be as much a portrait of a writer as anything else," notes the
Jordan decided on Ralph Fiennes for the part of Bendrix. "I thought
Ralph would convey that disenchanted, embittered '40s intellectual-a figure with
too much emotion, too much intelligence for their own good." Jordan lauds
Fiennes' own "huge intelligence" and admires his "wonderfully
spare treatment of the character."
"He has a sort of Graham Greene quality in his work," says producer
Stephen Woolley of Fiennes. "There's a wildness that's kept at bay by this
stiff upper lip. The film's also about how far you can go in terms of a
relationship-the sexuality, the sexual tension and jealousy. In a way, there's a
sort of sado-masochistic element, and I think Ralph picked up on all those
things. He has an understanding of that kind of complex character."
For Sarah, Jordan wanted "somebody that would be able to express
everything that was behind the words, that depth of emotion." The part
required an actress who could bring to life "the kind of person who had led
quite an overtly sexual life but is suddenly committed to this love and this
relationship that is bigger than anything she could ever deal with,"
explains Jordan. "I tested several people, and Julianne blew me away."
the proper chemistry between the two leads was essential to the story. "The
physical responsiveness of the characters to each other was very important to
me, so as an audience you would understand the passion and the deep warmth that
was between them," explain
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