What I would like to add is my thoughts about this adaptation. First of all the style: 19th century Italian was more unsettling than 19th century English! Imagine reading “Is 28-year-old” and wonder “who is?!” until in a later sentence you realize it’s still the first person narrator talking about himself (I is ready to…)… I had never encountered such turn of sentences and it made me smile throughout, along with old fashioned words that reminded me of my late grand-mother and other differences in spelling. I guess Italian has changed in almost two centuries (in fact I’ll probably read Boccaccio’s Decameron – which is even older – in its English translation, as I tried the Italian original and went “AUGH!” – felt very much like Lucy Van Pelt of the Peanuts! ;-)). Funny how I’m used to 19th century English and not the Italian equivalent. We have great schools, haven’t we? 😉
Apart from the reading difficulties, though, the movie is quite faithful to the book. Sometimes I could hear the movie narrator saying those sentences in modern Italian and visualize the scene as done in the movie. Except Ettore Scola shows a very dark Fosca: while in the books she seems to be as well dressed as Clara, in the movie she always wears black or brown, and has simpler clothes compared to her “rival”.
Also the setting is slightly different, the book being set in a small town, the movie in an outpost up the mountains. But the story is almost the same (without the subtext Maria Grazia talks about, I guess. In fact, if she hadn’t told me, I wouldn’t have noticed, haha! :-D). And of course the pacing was cut for the movie – consider that Clara’s last letter in the book begins with “I’ll be brief” and goes on for two full pages (handwritten it would be four!)… talk about brevity in the 1800s! Was the telegraph already there? Guess not… 😉
It was fun comparing the two versions! I can’t tell which I prefer in this case, probably the movie as the book was longer – meaning using many more words to say things that were neatly done much shortly in the movie. But then, maybe I’m used to fast-paced stories, and this is definitely an old-fashioned novel with old-fashioned style and pacing (and it’s faster than I Promessi Sposi anyway! ;-)).