The Bridge at San Luis Rey

A new film version has been completed and sits in pre-release limbo. Two previous attempts have met indifferent reaction, the first in 1929 (a year after the novel won the Pulitzer Prize) and the second in 1944.

The story is simple, five people walk onto a bridge in 18th century Peru. The bridge collapses and the five die. The novel explores the relationships and ‘bridges’ between the characters. Class is a major theme and selfless love perhaps the strongest thread of all. Religion hovers in the background and interpretations of morality bind the personalities together.

The novel is slight and slow burning, the harsh landscape and bitter poverty of the times are acute features and the challenge is to transfer the ‘feel’ to the screen. Third time lucky? Well, perhaps. De Niro is on board alongside Harvey Keitel and Gabriel Byrne. An Irish director has been brought in on the strength of her stage adaptation of a Brian Friel play. A risk, maybe. Filming was based in Spain and message boards are showing mixed reports (although from what I could make out, not one of the posters had actually seen the film). Is this the norm on movie chatrooms?

The film may struggle to challenge Spiderman 2 at the box office, but the novel is gently compelling.