Pinter On Screen: Power, Sex and Politics
To mark the 10th anniversary of his death, we celebrate this influential writer.
“I think that life is beautiful but the world is hell”
‘Truth in drama,’ said Harold Pinter on receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, ‘is forever elusive. You never quite find it, but the search for it is compulsive.’ That applies as much to his work for the screen as it does to the stage with which it shares many qualities: a fascination with the private roots of power, an abiding preoccupation with memory and the deceptiveness of language, a belief in the agency of women. Pinter, from his teenage years when he explored the work of Luis Buñuel, Marcel Carné and Jean Vigo, was always passionately in love with cinema and was proud that the majority of his screenplays were filmed. He also wrote many pioneering, and highly popular, plays for television. Pinter was a great writer whose work admits us to the dark room of his imagination.
“We’re at the bottom of a blanket of lies, which we’re either too indifferent or too frightened to question”
Harold Pinter, from the beginning, was fascinated by power, but in the final part of this season commemorating the 10th anniversary of his death, we see how a preoccupation with memory was combined with an increasing political engagement. Following his work on the unfilmed Proust Screenplay in 1972, Pinter became evermore intrigued with the omnipresence of the past and our ability to re-invent it according to the needs of the moment. At the same time, events such as the military coup in Chile in 1973 led to the re-activation of his political conscience. Pinter was anxious to be seen as a citizen of the world as well as a playwright, and this is reflected in his later work for theatre, film and TV, as well as in his momentous Nobel lecture, which brings the season to a fitting climax.
Harold Pinter-scripted The Comfort of Strangers is released by the BFI on dual-format edition Blu-ray and DVD on Mon 23 July.
Pinter at the Pinter, the complete season of Harold Pinter’s one-act plays, will be playing from September 2018 to February 2019 at the Harold Pinter Theatre, London.
Please note: we are screening mainly in the chronology of plays as written rather than date of production.