The Film And Novel Versions Of "The Fountainhead"

1314 words - 5 pages

The Fountainhead, published in 1943, was Ayn Rand's first great success as a writer. The four part novel, often heralded as one of the greatest American novels, was released on film in theaters in 1949. Rand wrote the screenplay for the film, condensing it where it was necessary and altering the story line to fit a film format. In a way what she chose to edit is an important insight into what ought to be seen as the most crucial pieces to the plot of The Fountainhead. She selected characters, themes, and plot lines to retain while making the difficult choice of selecting the disposable to fit time requirements. Although each of the traditionally regarded main characters, Peter Keating, Ellsworth Toohey, Gail Wynand, and Howard Roark, are given screen time in the film they are given far less focus than they are in the novel. The film raises Dominique Francon's role to new heights, giving her far more screen time than some of the other seemingly more significant characters. Her importance in The Fountainhead is shown through a new light when set beside the film. She is a primary character second only to Roark and perhaps even more interesting because her growth isn't shown in back story, but is given in a constant progression throughout the piece.

Dominique Francon is the heroine of The Fountainhead and proclaimed by Rand as "the woman for a man like Howard Roark." Dominique bridges each of the main characters in a clearly defined line and her encounters with each mark her growth towards being ideal woman for Roark. In the novel she heavily overlaps each individual character's story and walks away from them towards the next necessary lesson. While married to Peter Keating she enlightens him to what he will eventually discover on his own; he lacks any sense of identity whatsoever. By being with Keating Dominique is setting a barrier between herself on Roark who offers her the same type of enlightenment. In the film Keating is a smaller stepping stone for Dominique. He was a shield, a way to hinder herself from embracing any greatness she might possess. She sets him aside easily enough when Wynand terminates her relationship with him.

Her background and education make Dominique a prized bride, as Keating's mother realizes early on in the novel, for any upcoming architects. Marrying her is a symbol of conventional greatness like the Beaux-Arts scholarship or his offer of a place at Francon & Heyer. Keating sacrifices his own happiness for career ambition when he chooses to marry Dominique, but it is not much of a sacrifice. It would have taken far more of a toll on him to marry his true love and defy the basic order he has let his life take. Instead of representing Keating's struggle between assigned destiny and chosen destiny as it is in the novel, the film shows it through Dominique. By offering no particular reason for her to be engaged to Keating we can assume she is simply burying herself in her last name which is what he sees as her...

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