Making Peace or Piecemeal? Arnold Wesker's Screenplay and Wolfgang Storch's TV Adaptation of Arthur Koestler's Thieves in the Night

Staehler, Axel (2019) Making Peace or Piecemeal? Arnold Wesker's Screenplay and Wolfgang Storch's TV Adaptation of Arthur Koestler's Thieves in the Night. Jewish Film & New Media, 6 (1). pp. 28-66. ISSN 2169-0324. (doi:10.13110/jewifilmnewmedi.6.1.0028)

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Abstract

From 1983 to 1985 the British Jewish playwright Arnold Wesker worked on a film script for a German-Israeli TV adaptation of Arthur Koestler’s propagandistic novel Thieves in the Night (1946) which chronicles a decisive phase in the triangular conflict between Arabs, Jews, and the British during the British Mandate for Palestine. Ultimately, Wesker’s script was rejected, but in 1986 the dramatist published an excerpt in the Jewish Chronicle. Drawing on Wesker’s original drafts and his correspondence relating to the project, this article contextualises the publication of the so-called “Peace Making Scene” with the playwright’s approach to his adaptation of the novel as a whole. It is argued that Wesker’s main objectives were to preserve the integrity of the novel and to produce a “script of substance” that was to offer a historical argument rather than the “cowboys and Indian version” expected of him. In a comparative analysis of Wesker’s successive script versions, Koestler’s novel, and the TV adaptation as it was eventually broadcast on German television in 1989, it is moreover suggested that the playwright sought to achieve a more sympathetic representation of the Palestinian Arabs that was reversed in the final script by the director of the mini-series, Wolfgang Storch. It is argued that the various stages of the international co-production and the clash of the frequently quite acerbic individual voices of those involved in it reveal competing motivations as well as conflicting and shifting strategies of representing the history of Israel and the Middle East conflict.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.13110/jewifilmnewmedi.6.1.0028
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages
Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages > Comparative Literature
Depositing User: Axel Staehler
Date Deposited: 23 Nov 2018 10:39 UTC
Last Modified: 28 May 2019 20:13 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/70301 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Staehler, Axel: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2044-9687
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