Final Project Adaptation Proposal
My adaptation of Carson McCullers’ The Ballad of the Sad Café is a film. The film’s central theme is to portray the novel as an example of the literature of the American South. The filming process will aim to capture the traits and characteristics of the American South and its people as captured by McCullers to produce a Southern Gothic tragicomedy. The primary target audience for the film will be people over the age of eighteen who can responsibly interact with and enjoy the themes of violence, vengeance, morality, and love that I will cover in the film.
The plotline of the film will borrow heavily from the novel. Ms. Amelia is a businesswoman in a small town. A recluse, Ms. Amelia, is resented by many in the town. One day, a hunchback, Cousin Lymon, arrives at Ms. Amelia’s doorstep and identifies himself as her cousin. Ms. Amelia takes him in, and after a few days, the two start the café in the title. Business is booming when Ms. Amelia’s former husband, a rough man, Marvin Macy, arrives at the café. Marvin and Ms. Amelia are embroiled in a bitter rivalry. The two have a bare-knuckle boxing match, which Marvin wins with the help of Cousin Lymon. Lymon ad Marvin consequently rob Ms. Amelia and run away.
The film’s character will be central to my efforts to present the film as a Southern. Ms. Amelia is the main character of the film. She is tall with masculine features. Her eyes are slightly crossed, and her style of the walk is awkward. Ms. Amelia, though not talkative, has a sharp and clear voice, with a distinct Southern accent. Her physical appearance will convey a grotesque characteristic. Usually, she dresses in overalls, as most men of the agricultural South did during the day as they worked on the fields. Ms. Amelia is hot-tempered, and when she gets angry, she can quickly become violent though she never loses her civility. In essence, Ms. Amelia is an outsider in her town and gender.
Marvin Macy is also a tall man. A guitar at hand, Marvin Macy is a handsome man with a deep voice and a Southern accent. Marvin has a loud, and this is one of the things that endear him to Cousin Lymon. Marvin Macy is quick-tempered and violent.
Cousin Lymon is the third main character in the film. Cousin Lymon is a short man. His accent is distinctly Southern, and his dialogues are often peppered with Southern metaphors and proverbs. Cousin Lymon is talkative and easily socializes with other people. He laughs loudly, makes jokes, and is the life of the party. It is Cousin Lymon’s character that will generate the comic element in the film. Stumpy MacPhail is a minor but essential character. He is the representative of the town people. MacPhail is always in overalls with a blade grass between his teeth. MacPhail is a big drinker and is a daily visitor at the café. He is soft-spoken and social.
Character development will also be vital in showing the film as a representative of Southern cinema. Throughout their development, the characters reveal their strange and complex behavior. For my movie, the characters’ changes in behavior will be caused by three main events; The arrival of Cousin Lymon, Marvin Macy and Ms. Amelia’s wedding, and the return of Marvin Macy. Cousin Lymon’s arrival will change Ms. Amelia significantly. At the beginning of the film, Ms. Amelia will present an aloof character, socially awkward, and almost misanthropic. However, after she opens the doors of her café after the arrival of Cousin Lymon, she will have undergone a significant change. Ms. Amelia changes into a mellow, warm, and welcoming individual. The love that she develops for Cousin Lymon makes her set down her antisocial tendencies. The change will also advance the theme of the importance of family to Southern culture. Another instance of character development is seen around Marvin and Ms. Amelia’s wedding. This scene will be shown in a flashback of black and white. Marvin enters the wedding as a reformed man, smitten by Ms. Amelia. However, the mental and physical abuse of the short-lived marriage changes Marvin Macy, who abandons the good act and reverts to his evil self., permanently. Marvin’s return transforms Cousin Lymon. His love for Ms. Amelia changes to a mocking apprehension, while Ms. Amelia’s mellow self gradually melts away, and she slowly reverts to the hostile and lonesome woman she once was. At the end of the film, the morality of the characters will be questioned, and it will be challenging to place a finger on who is the villain in the movie.
Another feature of the film that will identify the film’s Southern nature is the setting of the film. The film is set in a small town in Georgia in the early 20th century. The film will be shot in two main settings, the town, and the café. The town is an old mill town. At the center of the town is a mill. The town is old and dreary. This trait is aimed at conveying the gothic element of Southern literature. Animals roam the streets of the town, and on the roadsides are broken down chariot wheels and bottles of liquor. Some of the houses have bullet holes in them, a sign that violence is nothing new to the town. The men of the town have guns strapped on their waists. In this way, the violent theme that is a characteristic of Southern literature is brought out. On the background of the town are sprawling fields of cotton and other crops to show the connection of the town and its people to the land.
The café will also be a significant setting in the film. The café is situated apart from the other houses in the town. The separate location conveys the loneliness of the owner, Ms. Amelia. At the beginning of the film, the café, which also serves as Ms. Amelia’s house, is old, brown and dilapidated like the other houses in the town. This changes when the café opens as Ms. Amelia and Lymon paint the house in fresh white paint. Painting the café white is aimed at showing the disparity between the café and the other houses, and also to symbolize the brightening of Ms. Amelia’s life after the arrival of Cousin Lymon. The café itself is a medium-sized space with wooden tables and chairs. The walls have cracks in them, portending the separation that tension and rivalry that will be continuing themes in the film. The roof of the café is low to accentuate Ms. Amelia’s tall height. At a corner of the café is a radio which bellows out the old blues while the café is open. After Marvin Macy arrives, the main lamp in the café becomes dim. This sets a dark tone for the rest of the story as the story turns into one of revenge, rivalry while exploring the extent of harm that Ms. Amelia, Cousin Lymon, and Marvin Macy are willing to do to each other.
The film will also use props to enhance the quality of the production. The café will be designed using props. At the café’s main counter are props of bottles of moonshine. I will also use fake blood as a prop in the film. Particularly in the final scene where Ms. Amelia and Marvin have their ultimate confrontation. As the fight goes on, the characters will bleed, and this will highlight the grueling and medieval nature of the battle. The blood will show the deep hatred between Marvin and Ms. Amelia. I will also use a prop for Marvin’s guitar. The story of the guitar will be that Marvin used to play before he changed and married Ms. Amelia. When the marriage ends, the only thing Marvin takes with him is the guitar. The guitar will symbolize Marvin’s character development throughout the story.
Music will also be key to delivering a film that can be recognized as a Southern product. The music I would use for this film would mostly be Southern blues to
emphasize the genre of the film. Ideally, the songs would be about violence, loneliness
, and love. I would also use Marvin Macy’s guitar, and he would sing songs of violence
and revenge to set the tone for the final confrontation between him and Ms. Amelia. At
the end of the film, the music from the chain gang will play, and its music will be a
ballad of the conflict between Ms. Amelia and Marvin Macy, and Cousin Lymon’s
The main conflict of the film is between Ms. Amelia and Marvin Macy. Marvin Macy has just gotten out of prison, and he blames Ms. Amelia’s violent behavior during their marriage for his predicament. When he returns, he is out to destroy Ms. Amelia, to whom he had given his hear and property, and she reciprocated with chasing him out of her home. Ms. Amelia, on the other hand, wants to purge Marvin Macy out of her life, this time permanently. Marvin Macy’s charm had started to pull Cousin Lymon away from Ms. Amelia, effectively ruining the happiness that Ms. Amelia enjoyed with Cousin Lymon. What I want to achieve in this conflict is to let the viewers decide who between Marvin and Ms. Amelia in on the right. Both are deeply flawed characters who are at loggerheads with each other. It is from this conflict that the themes of
love and violence that are characteristic of Southern literature emerge. A minor conflict in the film is between Cousin Lymon and Ms. Amelia. Cousin Lymon, taken by Marvin Macy’s charm, changes his allegiances and joins Marvin to destroy Ms. Amelia. Additionally, Marvin Macy and his brother Henry Macy have a conflict. Marvin Macy is not happy that his brother remained friends with Ms. Amelia after what Ms. Amelia had put him through.
The conflict between Ms. Amelia and Marvin Macy is resolved toward the end of the film. The two of them decide to have a boxing match. Ms. Amelia convinces Marvin that if she wins, then Marvin would have to leave and never come back. The day of the fight comes, and the two set upon each other. After a grueling fight, Cousin Lymon helps Marvin by tripping Ms. Amelia. This act also ends the conflict between Cousin Lymon and Ms. Amelia, because Cousin Lymon eventually shows on whose side he is on.
After losing the fight, Ms. Amelia is resigned to her fate and rues her mistake in loving Cousin Lymon and opening herself up to the world. She closes the café and recedes into the upstairs rooms forever. The story will end with Ms. Amelia looking from her window away from the town. Her house is now ramshackle of its former self, and her look is disheveled. The townspeople are in groups gossiping in hushed tones. Marvin Macy is sitting at the train tracks with a large suitcase, and Cousin Lymon is nowhere to be seen. An injured Ms. Amelia closes her window and drinks the last bottle of liquor from the café.