I speak carefully when I say that [The Proust Screenplay is] incomparably the best screen adaptation ever made of a great work and that it is in itself a work of genius—minor compared with the source, as Pinter surely would be the first to scornfully insist, but I would insist that this screenplay [of Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu] far surpasses anything conveyed by the term "adaptation" and becomes a re-composition in another art. This is by far the best of his screen writing and not just because it comes from a titanic novel: look at most screenplays from great novels. Pinter has touched genius in some of his plays; here, touched by a giant genius, he rises in the film form, technically and imaginatively, to the level of his best theater work.
A lover of Proust can take the stand that the novel should not be touched. It is; and it doesn't need to exist in any other way. With that view I can see no argument. But aside from that absolute purity, if one has any interest in seeing Proust on the screen, then Pinter has transformed it miraculously….
What Pinter has done is to dismiss any thought of carpentry, of sawing and patching to get an intelligible synopsis of the vast book into three hours plus…. Instead he apparently drenched himself in the book, absorbed it, let it seep into his blood and marrow, and then figuratively forgot about the work's prior existence. He seems to have said to himself: "If I were Proust, with his societal experience, his interior landscape, his range of sensory appetites, his intoxication with the Idea of Time, and if I wanted to write a screenplay with all this instead of a novel, what screenplay would I write?" In short, insofar as matters as delicate as Proust's work and the creative process in general can be laid out diagrammatically, we can say that Pinter disassembled the book and rebuilt its materials into a different...
(The entire section is 796 words.)