The film adaptation was originally to have been made by British director Jack Clayton , who was attached to the project around seven years before Polanski made it. Clayton returned to the project in the mids, and a rough draft script by Christopher Hampton was written while Clayton was preparing The Great Gatsby. By the time Clayton had delivered Gatsby to Paramount in March , he had learned from Robert Evans that Polanski was interested in the project and wanted to play the lead role. While Clayton was occupied preparing foreign language versions of Gatsby for the European market, Paramount studio head Barry Diller began negotiations with Polanski.
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Originally published in , the novel has been adapted into film in by Roman Polanski - who also played the main character. I saw the film adaptation several years ago, but only now read the book - the film follows the novel closely, with only a few minor differences. The previous tenant, a woman named Simone Choule, has attempted to commit suicide by throwing herself out of the window, leaving her furniture and belongings behind.
Trelkovsky feels an obligation to visit Simone in the hospital, but discovers that she is covered in bandages - and screams terribly when she sees him. Simone dies soon afterwards, and Trelkovsky resumes his life in her former apartment - but soon becomes embroiled in what he perceives to be a conspiracy against his life, designed by his neighbors. The Tenant is grotesque and surreal, but at the same time almost absurdly funny at times in a very juvenile way at one point Trelkovsky amuses himself with farting in public at regular intervals.
Trelkovsky himself is an interesting character. Although he is said to have a steady job, it is never described in great detail and it is unclear what he is actually doing. He has very few friends, and is not really a social person. Trelkovsky wants most to be simply left alone, but everything he does ends up disturbing and bothering his neighbors - who bang on his walls, ceiling and floor, and complain about him to the landlord.
Is Trelkovsky truly a victim of a complex conspiracy? Who is he, exactly? Trelkovsky is not a French name, as his landlord points out while interrogating him about his background - we learn that he was born in France, but nothing more.
It is possible that Topor wanted Trelkovsky to reflect his own background - that of a Polish Jew, a stranger in the country of his birth incidentally, Roman Polanski is also a Polish Jew who moved to Paris to live and work. That Trelkovsky is an outsider is obvious enough, but he himself also does not know who or what he is. Although he states that he is not a homosexual, he is unable to form a relationship with a woman; in fact he shows to be fascinated not with women, but with their bodies.
As the novel progresses, Trelkovsky sees an increasingly clear image of himself as an intruder - not only in the claustrophobic, kafkaesque apartment complex, but inside his own body. Although I saw the film and knew what was going to happen, I still enjoyed reading The Tenant - it is very short, and does what it aims to do well, without overstaying its welcome. I really recommend the film adaptation - I think that it is even better than the book, with just enough difference to make it true to the source material and enjoyable for those who have read it.
The Tenant by Roland Topor