The Others (2001), a film by Pedro Amenábar, is an interesting adaptation, though a very personal one, of Henry James’ novel The Turn of the Screw (1898). If in the film, the two children are alive and the two apparitions represent to be death, in the novel, the two children are death and the supposed phantoms are not so but alive intruders in the house. This difference makes a kind of mirror effect between the novel and the film, both being highly thrilling in their respective forms.
The main point of the story remains in both sides: the role of the children in the relations between death and life. That’s exactly what the first narrator in James’ novel affirms to be “another turn of the screw” as two children in a scary story becomes more dreadful than just one. In fact, the first inhabitants of the house to be aware of the presence of the others are the children. But in this case there is as well another mirror effect. In the novel, the little boy is more liable to see the phantoms, while in the film, it is the girl who first realises of the presence of the others.
Both the novel and the film present together a similar story from different points of view. If true that Amenábar did not offer a faithful adaptation, his creativity is nonetheless valuable. In fact, the best way to approach the film is keeping in mind the novel and vice versa. Moreover, both mediums writing and film making are also complementary which provokes a nice encounter between two different periods of time.
I wouldn’t recommend anyone to read Storm of Steel by Ernst Jünger who was not interested in a kind of “war report”. In fact, Jünger wrote his war diary during his four years in the World War I and he gave us a piece of faithful events without space for feelings or emotions. This lack of “humanity” has been the cause of several critics,which, like Walter Benjamin, accused Jünger of complicity with the idea of “cult of the war”. The mere fact of describing war events instead of showing a personal experience or an inner-reaction lead some part of the critics to see in Jünger’s narrative a pure “war for war’s sake”.
But before going on, let us see what’s written about war in female fictions. Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway shows some male consequences after being in the World War I. Woolf, as in general all women writers of this period, focuses on the consequences of war on human relations. In fact, the general is unable to react to her wife’s demands with any kind of empathy, he’s completely out of question in his returning to London. The main problem is that he can’t express himself what is going in his inner-self. And that, I guess, is the point: the lack of expressivity of the emotions. Woolf’s general, like Jünger, don’t talk about anything which is not outside themselves. The general becomes mad, but his madness is a kind of frustration because of his past experience and it’s related to the breakdown between what he feels and what he achieve to say. The reader of Woolf knows the female side of the war and feels the destruction of the relationships between women and men. The female suffering, in contrast with Jünger’s, is narrated by an over-expression.
Therefore, I’d say both narratives are coherent with each other even if being so different in style and form. They complement both views which I find a quite interesting topic to analyse.