a certain apprehension about bringing a piece to the screen,
especially if you've done something successfully on the stage,'
says John Hurt. 'On the other hand, it's one of the plays
which does seem natural to film, if you can find a way of
giving it the presence on screen, which is a two-dimensional
medium a different way of keeping an audience's attention.
It's the most obviously filmic piece insofar as it's quite
naturalistic in a way, it's not formalised or stylised, not
a modernist play in that sense. Everything that is said is
perfectly reasonable. It's all in real time. If the camera
behaves like an audience, as just an observer, then it isn't
a huge leap of the imagination to go from an audience to a
lens. If anything it can be quite helpful at times, in that
it can become even more intimate. But Atom Egoyan was very
careful not to get into close-up too much.
was never a problem having a different director to the stage
production because I got on with Atom and he got on with me.
There was a certain friction at the beginning because Atom
wasn't used to doing a piece that he didn't work on from conception,
and I was quite possessive about the play from my point of
view. The frictions were worked out very quickly though, which
is something you have to do very quickly. Rehearsal time on
screen is a luxury. I'm used to doing that and used to working
with a camera. When we got into it, we really worked very
well together and I think he's done it wonderfully well. It
is filmic but not intrusively so. You're never aware of the
camera moving. There's only one serious cut, which he felt
he needed, from the tape recorder and back again. You're not
aware of the camera at all.
loves his characters tremendously, but he is utterly without
sentiment. I don't think that Krapp is an actual autobiography, but there are autobiographical pieces
in it, things taken from his life. It's about your perception
of how you reconstruct your own life, how you accuse your
and regret is universal. How many times in one day do you
hear people say "if only" or "only if"
those two words that should never go together in the
English language. You think: "I could have been so much
this if I'd done
that if I'd
played things differently." In other words, saying: "If
I wasn't the person I was at the time making those decisions."
But that, of course, is what you were and that is what you
are now. It's something that is universal. This goes some
way to explaining the spell that the play has on an audience,
because it so acutely touches that point in everybody. We
examine ourselves constantly.
have an ability, particularly on stage, to appear like Beckett.
There's a kind of similarity in the build of face. But nobody
can look exactly like Beckett. His face was a work of art!
On stage you can give the impression of a bird of prey, which
is what I did. It is harder, obviously, on film.
long, 14-minute takes that we used are a matter of expedience.
The fact that I have played it does mean that the words are
part of my DNA now. I don't have to worry about remembering
the lines. Usually in film you do have to worry, because it
is not rehearsed until the day of shooting. I am a great believer
in rehearsing film, particularly films which deal with scenes
played between characters.
may or may not have been right about the world, but he was
right about his world. He was certainly right about Krapp's
world. It's a common misconception that Beckett is a gloomy
old bastard that he is negative and makes you despondent
and depressed. I don't think that's the case at all. Most
of the audiences that saw me play Krapp live on the London
stage didn't react like that at all. They found it quite uplifting.
It's uplifting because the emotions are real, and instead
of being parochial he's chosen to write about universal things,
and humanity's universal attributes. What he does so brilliantly
is to take a universal understanding of a character and then
make that seem to be parochial. It's a great trick, because
it is therefore understandable to anybody.'