In the forward to the book, Tressell writes that he ‘wished to describe the relations existing between the workmen and their employers, the attitudes and feelings of these two classes towards each other; the conditions of the workers during the different seasons of the year; their circumstances when at work and out of employment: Their pleasures, their intellectual outlook, their religious and political opinions and ideals’.
There is so much contained within the original novel, that our challenge has been to reduce it down to a mere 120 pages. In order to produce a successful adaptation, we need to find a subjective shortcut through the source material, and impose a strong cinematic narrative—replacing the literary political discourse with visual, allegorical storytelling.
We also are paying due care and attention to stop the didactic nature of the novel from affecting the emotional narrative of our adaptation—as Samuel Goldwyn famously said, ‘if you want to send a message, use Western Union’. We believe Tressell is at his strongest as a writer when using his characters’ fight for survival to show us the state of things, rather than when writing a political tract.
We aim to deliver an adaptation that we feel stays true to Tressell’s intentions; if we are too reverential towards the material we will be undone by the sheer wandering scale of it all. We intend to draw attention only to the aspects of the argument that still ring true for an audience today. Our priority is to deliver an adaption that can be achieved on a modest budget whilst carrying the astounding human spirit of the novel to a new audience.
Above all else, we are focussed on delivering a story that elicits an emotional response in our audience. We know that if we can create a story based on the characters that Tressell created, the experiences he observed, then we can be sure of an adaption the man himself would be proud to call his own.