Weekly Task 13: Novel into Film

Task 13

From The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark


a.How would you dramatise the following passage from Spark’s novel? Think of it as a screenplay, and make a few notes about setting, actors’ movements, dialogue, etc.



Sandy Stranger had a feeling at the time that they were supposed to be the happiest days of her life, and on her tenth birthday she said so to her best friend Jenny Gray who had been asked to tea at Sandy's house. The speciality of the feast was pineapple cubes with cream, and the speciality of the day was that they were left to themselves. To Sandy the unfamiliar pineapple had the authentic taste and appearance of happiness and she focussed her small eyes closely on the pale gold cubes before she scooped them up in her spoon, and she thought the sharp taste on her tongue was that of a special happiness, which was nothing to do with eating, and was different from the happiness of play that one enjoyed unawares. Both girls saved the cream to the last, then ate it in spoonfuls.

"Little girls, you are going to be the crème de la crème," said Sandy, and Jenny spluttered her cream into her handkerchief.

"You know," Sandy said, "these are supposed to be the happiest days of our lives."

"Yes, they are always saying that," Jenny said. "They say, make the most of your schooldays because you never know what lies ahead of you."

"Miss Brodie says prime is best," Sandy said.

"Yes, but she never got married like our mothers and fathers."

"They don't have primes," said Sandy.

"They have sexual intercourse," Jenny said.

The little girls paused, because this was still a stupendous thought, and one which they had only lately lit upon; the very phrase and its meaning were new. It was quite unbelievable. Sandy said, then, "Mr. Lloyd had a baby last week. He must have committed sex with his wife."

This idea was easier to cope with and they laughed screamingly into their pink paper napkins. Mr. Lloyd was the Art master to the senior girls.

"Can you see it happening?" Jenny whispered.

Sandy screwed her eyes even smaller in the effort of seeing with her mind. "He would be wearing his pyjamas," she whispered back. The girls rocked with mirth, thinking of one‐armed Mr. Lloyd, in his solemnity, striding into school.

Then Jenny said, "You do it on the spur of the moment. That's how it happens." Jenny was a reliable source of information, because a girl employed by her father in his grocer shop had recently been found to be pregnant, and Jenny had picked up some fragments of the ensuing fuss. Having confided her finds to Sandy, they had embarked on a course of research which they called "research," piecing together clues from remembered conversations illicitly overheard, and passages from the big dictionaries. "It all happens in a flash," Jenny said. "It happened to Teenie when she was out walking at Puddocky with her boy friend. Then they had to get married."

"You would think the urge would have passed by the time she got her clothes off," Sandy said. By "clothes," she definitely meant to imply knickers, but "knickers" was rude in this scientific context.

"Yes, that's what I can't understand," said Jenny.

Sandy's mother looked round the door and said, "Enjoying yourselves, darlings? "Over her shoulder appeared the head of Jenny's mother. "My word," said Jenny's mother, looking at the tea‐table, "they've been tucking in!" Sandy felt offended and belittled by this; it was as if the main idea of the party had been the food.

b.After you have made your notes, watchthe episode from the film adaptation here: [4 minutes 40 seconds into the clip].

c.What has been added to the novel? What has been omitted? Write about 200 words about the changes made between the novel and the film.

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