Poor Things director responds to Glasgow snub from Alasdair Gray book

The 2023 film starring Emma Stone has already scooped top awards.

Poor Things director says Glasgow snub wouldn’t make Alasdair Gray ‘happy’ Searchlight Pictures

The director of award-winning film Poor Things says Scottish novelist Alasdair Gray “wouldn’t be happy” about Scotland not being the setting of the movie.

The 2023 film, an adaption of Gray’s 1992 novel, has already scooped prizes with Emma Stone winning Best Actress at the Critics Choice Awards for her role as Bella Baxter.

The plot follows Bella after she is brought back to life by the scientist Dr Godwin Baxter who has her brain swapped with that of her unborn foetus, resulting in her having the mind of an infant.

The box-office hit, also starring Willem Dafoe, is mainly set in London despite the novel being set in late-Victorian Glasgow and having central themes of Scotland and its political history.

Poor Things poster

Director Yorgos Lanthimos visited Gray in 2012 before his death in 2019 to discuss the novel and was taken on a tour of Glasgow by the author.

Lanthimos said the writer gave him his ‘blessing’ to adapt his novel in to a film.

The Greek filmmaker, who also made the 2018 film The Favourite, admits Gray probably ‘wouldn’t be very happy’ that the film’s central setting was moved to London.

He told Little White Lies magazine: “Well, I think Alasdair probably wouldn’t be very happy about that, because he was a very proud Scotsman.

“But we give [Godwin] Baxter some of his character, and a Scottish accent – Alasdair was also a great inspiration for Willem [Dafoe] as a presence, so we filtered that through him.

“In the novel, the Scottish issue feels like a different part of the book, and I felt it would just be like trying to make two different films if I tried to put it into this version of the story.

“Once we decided that the point of view of the film was going to be Bella’s, and it was going to be her story and her journey, and working with an American cast, it just made more sense to contract things.”

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