Craig Lucas | The Dying Gaul
Classic Film and Television Home Page
Craig Lucas is a leading playwright and scriptwriter. He is now
directing his own writing, both on stage and in film.
Some common subjects and approaches in the films of Craig Lucas:
- Strong plotting
- Metamorphosis of characters across gender lines
- Impersonation, usually of a lover
An Emphasis on Strong Plotting
Craig Lucas is unusual in his technique. While he has made a career
as a "literary" writer, his works use approaches different
from the much-promoted anti-plot ideas dominant among literary critics.
Lucas' dramas are full of plot. His plots are beautifully constructed,
intricate, and full of meaningful detail.
These plots connect Lucas to a long tradition of playwrights whose work
centers on well-constructed plots: the Renaissance drama of Shakespeare, Calderón and Moličre,
the 18th Century comedy of Sheridan and Goldsmith, and their
modern heirs in the comedy of manners of Wilde and Coward. Both
in Lucas, and in his illustrious predecessors, the plot has real
artistic value. Lucas' interest in exploring this theatrical tradition
helps give his work a timeless quality. It eschews current literary
fashions to develop important potentials of the drama.
Lucas is a bit like the science fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin.
Both authors create a rich flow of story, one that is arranged
into complex, beautiful patterns. They have defied the received
but moronic "wisdom" of their times that plot is unimportant.
The Dying Gaul
Links to Prelude to a Kiss
The Dying Gaul (2005) resembles Prelude to a Kiss
in its plotting.
Impersonation of a Lover. In both, people masquerade behind someone else's
identity. In both, the impersonation is of the hero's lover, and
is designed to worm its way into his trust and intimacy:
AIDS. Both stories also deal with AIDS. In both, the hero experiences
what happens when his lover is struck with the disease:
- Prelude to a Kiss uses fantasy, a seeming magic that is never explained
rationally, to work this impersonation.
- The Dying Gaul employs modern Internet technology.
Metamorphosis. However, The Dying Gaul too moves
immediately into the world of metaphor and the fabulous.
The hero has written a screenplay called "The Dying Gaul"
about his lover's decline and death. And this screenplay too will
undergo painful metamorphoses in the course of the film. This
metamorphosis will involve changes between male and female, and
transformations between gay and straight, just like the central
plot developments of Prelude to a Kiss. There is a reverse
order in the two works:
- In Prelude to a Kiss, this is metaphorical: The lover's sudden transformation
into a decaying old man represents the devastation wrecked by
AIDS, turning healthy young people into the dying.
- In The Dying Gaul, the AIDS is literal: the hero's lover has died of the
disease shortly before the film opens.
This intricate dance of plot echoes in Lucas' work is representative of his deep commitment
to plot as a writer.
- In Prelude to a Kiss, the heroine
moves from female to male, and the marriage transforms from a
straight to a (temporarily) gay relationship.
- In The Dying Gaul,
the screenplay's lover gets changed from male to female,
and the relationship from gay to straight.