Jean Antoine-Dunne’s lively and enriching study begins in a recognition of how important film has been to Derek Walcott. It is not merely that he made two films, The Rig, and The Haytian Earth, a script for To Die for Grenada and wrote film treatments of several of his plays such as Marie Laveau and Ti Jean, and also of his poetic epic Omeros, but that the whole of Walcott’s work, whether poetry, drama or painting, is infused with the sense of the filmic. As Jean Antoine-Dunne writes, “I see him as a film poet”.
This study, written with unrivalled access both to Walcott and his multiple library archives, moves in several directions. It comprises a record of Walcott’s work in film, extensively illustrated with his beautiful storyboards and quotations from this mostly unpublished work. It tracks Walcott’s own commentary on the place of film in his aesthetics and on his ideas about reaching the widest possible audiences. It focuses on those explicit moments in the texture of his work (Omeros in particular) where Walcott references film and the filmic. As such, the study proposes ways of rereading Walcott’s work – its narrative modes, imagery and construction – both through the work of Sergei Eisenstein and his conception of film montage, and Gilles Deleuze’s revisioning of Eisenstein in ways that make Deleuze’s discussion of historical discontinuities and hybrid forms particularly relevant to Caribbean aesthetics. Within a specifically Caribbean frame, this study has much enlightening to say about the connections between Walcott’s work and that of Édouard Glissant, Wilson Harris and Kamau Brathwaite.