W. Somerset MAUGHAM ... The Painted Veil (1925)
REMEMBER W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965)? Yes, he of the South Seas stories and such novels as The Razor’s Edge (1944), The Moon and Sixpence (1919), Of Human Bondage (1915) and Mrs. Craddock (1902). Hollywood has a new film adaptation of his 1925 novel, The Painted Veil, starring Edward Norton, Naomi Watts, Liev Schreiber, Toby Jones and Diana Rigg, a story of deceit, adultery and redemption set in Hong Kong and China in the mid-1920s. A British bacteriologist attempts to stem a cholera outbreak in China while struggling to punish his wife for committing adultery. This is the third adaptation of one of Maugham’s lesser-known classics. The first adaptation came out in 1934 starring Greta Garbo while the less-than-successful second adaptation, renamed The Seventh Sin, starring Eleanor Parker and Bill Travers, was released in 1957.
Maugham has always been and is still one of my favourite novelists and short-story writers. I believe he is one of the greatest storytellers of our time for he writes with a vigorous flair, extraordinary clarity and precision, tightly disciplined with superb wit and urbanity and his sense of literary form is indeed something to conjure with.
Here are some scenes from the luscious new John Curran-directed Warner Bros. vehicle: