Marilynne Robinson

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Housekeeping (1988)

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Thumbnails 6/12/15

Director and cast of "Henry Gamble's Birthday Party"; Genius of Ornette Coleman; Richard Brody on "Heaven Knows What"; Critics flunk "Ferris Bueller"; "Inside Out" director Pete Docter.

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View image The most famous phone box in the world.

After the screening of Bill Forsyth's long-unavailable masterpiece "Housekeeping" at Ebertfest (about which more later) somebody asked him why he used the word "moving" in a key piece of dialog rather than novelist Marilynne Robinson's word-of-choice, "drifting." Forsyth said he didn't remember for certain, but imagined it was because "drifting" was simply "too on-the-nose," too "poetic" sounding. Actress Christine Lahti, who played the character speaking the line in question, and who joined Forsyth on stage (neither of them having seen the movie, or each other, for 21 years) confirmed that "drifting" works beautifully on the page of a novel, but wouldn't have sounded right if spoken aloud on the screen. So much artistry is reflected in that simple explanation. What seemed at first like kind of a dumb, nit-picky question was justified by the answer.

Forsyth spun another tale of adaptation that mirrored the oblique and inevitable comic structure of one of his movies: