At the Cannes Film Festival last month, the winner of the top prize, the Palme d’Or, was a French lesbian romance called Blue Is the Warmest Color. Turns out that it’s based on a graphic novel by Julie Maroh (which will be published in English this fall by Arsenal Pulp Press), making it the first film based on a comic to win the prestigious award.
Adèle Exarchopoulos, left, and Léa Seydoux in Blue Is the Warmest Color
According to the NY Times, the movie was “celebrated for its explicit sex scenes”, which were termed “exceptionally beautiful”. However, author Maroh has criticized those scenes as “uninformed, unconvincing, and pornographic”, saying that gay people would find them ridiculous and terming them fantasies for straight guys. (The director, Abdellatif Kechiche, is male.) She attributes the problem to not having any actual lesbians involved in the making of the film.
The question of how to translate authorial intent from the comic page to the screen is a complicated one, with a history that includes really bad superhero movies that barely nod to creators, Alan Moore’s famous demands to have his name removed entirely from projects based on his comic writing, and even successes, such as the Frank Miller-inspired movies Sin City and 300 or the Hellboy films. More often, I suspect, the creators shrug, accept any checks they might receive, and take comfort in the knowledge that their books are still there, unchanged.