I did an interview with producer Keith Barish in 1982 about his latest flm, Sophie’s Choice, and I remember one thing about our sit-down more than anything else. This was Barish saying with absolute resolution that one of his biggest passions was to make a film of D.M. ThomasThe White Hotel.
I read the book not long after writing my Barish piece, and it’s certainly a dark and haunting piece — emphasis on the former. And now, 24 years later, Santa Barbara-based producer Susan Stewart Potter and writer-director Simon Monjack have raised $20 million to make their own feature film version. Good for that, but I say woe unto those who would produce a movie after many, many others have been trying to do the same thing for a long time.
There’s usually a reason that movies never quite happen, and that reason usually has something to do with the humanity, or the lack of humanity, in the core material. Terrence Malick, Pedro Almodovar, David Cronenberg, Bernardo Bertolucci, David Lynch, Hector Babenco and Emir Kusturica have all tried to make this film, or have at least seriously flirted with it. It has a curse on it, this project. The Thomas novel doesn’t want to be made into a film…not really.