Also has the movie: The Talented Mr. Ripley

Written by Patricia Highsmith in 1955, The Talented Mr. It is not easy to define Tom Ripley, the anti-hero of Ripley’s novel: he is a cultured, communicative, intelligent, attractive, passionate, fast young man; On the other hand, he is a cynical, sensitive, secretive, selfish, lonely, and unhappy serial killer. Since its writing, this complex character has turned into interesting material for the cinema. The Ripley series has been adapted for film many times with different directors and actors, and a new series adaptation to be written and directed by Steven Zaillian is in the works. The most striking of these adaptations is the 1999 film The Talented Mr. Ripley – The Talented Mr. Ripley.

The Talented Mr. Ripley: The Struggle for Existence

Trying to survive in 1950s New York by doing petty scams, Tom Ripley meets wealthy businessman Herbert Greenleaf while playing the piano in a Princeton University jacket he borrowed during a ‘a party. Herbert thinks Tom is a friend of his son Dickie, who lives in Italy and has no intention of returning home. He asks her to go to Italy to persuade his son to come back. All expenses will also be covered. Tom, who has neither dated Princeton nor met Dickie, still accepts the offer. After arriving in Italy, Tom befriends Dickie and his girlfriend, Marge, and admires Dickie, who is living the life he wants. After a while, Dickie begins to feel uncomfortable with this friendship, which continues to grow, and wants to break off the relationship. But by killing him, Tom will have Dickie’s identity and life.

Evil and reflection

Although the story of criminals is more interesting to the reader or audience, classic detective stories focus on detectives illuminating crimes. However, Highsmith does the opposite in the Ripley series: he shares with us the motivation to commit the murders and the lure of evil by following the murderer. Highsmith’s ability to see and embody evil in people and events is fueled by the dynamics of pessimistic thinking, for evil always remains somewhere, and if the necessary conditions are met, it will emerge in a moment. trigger. Tom Ripley stands at the end of that scale, in a distinctive spot.

We’re looking at someone who looks pathetic on the outside, whose talents are wasted, so we often sympathize with Tom throughout the show and movie, want him out of the situation he’s in find and take his side. Minghella clarifies these symptoms when he portrays Tom in the film. She transforms him into a more appropriate anti-hero for today’s age, aware of his fragility. As the author calculates despite his personal depressions, an opportunist who wants to skip status but a closed inner world, the film reveals Ripley’s complex and ambivalent emotional world and heightens his empathy with the audience. Yet the essence of both Ripleys is the same: an unpredictable killer whose main concern is to protect himself and the world he has created, who, even if he has no qualms about murdering, will. without hesitation if necessary. Tom is someone who does not hesitate to follow his impulses recklessly, often unconsciously. When he arrived in Italy, he told Meredith, whom he had met at passport control, that his name was Dickie. While watching Dickie and Marge from afar through binoculars, he looks at Dickie and says “that’s my face”, secretly wearing his clothes. He doesn’t like the truth, he conceals it; He is not afraid to reflect his own reality.

The essence of Ripley’s murder is that her identity is not enough for her and the solution-oriented defense mechanism predominates in her mind in response to the confusion created by this. While he enjoys traveling and spending time with Dickie, his pent up emotions reactivate those defense mechanisms when things turn around. He even says in one scene that he might commit a crime in Dickie’s name. This illicit urge to search for connections is actually an assurance in Tom’s mind that he is constantly looking for but not finding for their relationship. Later, he realizes that he wants to have all those social statuses and favors that he shares as a friend, not to be excluded. By killing Dickie, he gains his identity, his life, as well as a social status that he will never be able to achieve. “I always thought it was better to be a fake than a real person.

” says. This is the main reason for his love for Europe. He conceives himself from scratch in this place where there is no trace left of his past; He wants to be someone new, there is no nothing he can do about it.

In describing Dickie, Highsmith pays homage to the beauty of his life and his body, without mentioning his flaws. Marge tells Tom that Dickie is like the sun, warming everyone he blesses, but when he goes elsewhere the weather turns cold. Minghella, on the other hand, reveals Dickie’s weaknesses and selfishness with the additions he made to the script, turning him into someone who is still attractive, charismatic, but flawed. This transformation contributes to the film in two ways: first, the tension Tom and Dickie felt on the boat that culminated in the murder has a realistic basis, and the chain of events set in motion by that murder and Tom’s fall in the finale becomes significant. . On the other hand, the gender identity crisis hidden in the novel is also revealed.

Gender identity crisis

The homoerotic relationships between men, felt but not evoked in Patricia Highsmith’s novels since her first novel Strangers on a Train, are also felt in the Ripley series. (**) Minghella, on the other hand, places this sexual tension at one of the film’s focal points, pointing out that Tom is drawn to Dickie’s sexual attraction. He reinforces this with such memorable scenes as Dickie playing chess naked in the bathtub and Tom dressed in his clothes next to him, or Tom’s embrace of Dickie’s bloodied body after the murder. Not only that, it expands the character of Peter, who has little space in the book, to make him Tom’s implied partner by the end of the film. But Tom will again prioritize his status over his sexual identity the first time he gets in trouble. Let’s open a parenthesis here: Starting from the fact that we live in a world concerned with transforming queer identity into pathology, it is not a good induction to make the first link that comes to mind between Tom’s repressed sexuality and the murders he commits. Tom’s murder is not because of his sexual identity, his inability to achieve his desires, his jealousy or his insult, but his efforts to maintain his new identity. The fact that he killed his friends, Freddie, who was trying to figure out the events, without hesitation, supports him.

Social pressures aren’t the only reason Tom cleverly conceals his sexual identity and inhibits his desires, aside from wanting to get into the tub during the chess scene. In a crisis of sexual identity when homosexuality was a taboo, Tom also claims the “normality” of the identity that he engages in and then seizes. In the novel series, we see a push for a heterosexual orientation, just as he tears apart his old identity and embraces the new as he kills Dickie. Although Highsmith married Tom for the remainder of the series, the sexual tension between the men also remains. Minghella, on the other hand, points out the dysfunction of this forced effort, leaving Tom alone at the end of the film. Even though the first adaptation of the same novel by René Clément in 1960, Raging Sun – Plein Soleil is a very successful adaptation in terms of atmosphere, it seems very problematic from today’s view, with its moralizing finale and completely ignoring depression. Ripley’s sexuality.


To sum up, we can say that Anthony Minghella has analyzed the universe of the author and the novel well, and that he has signed a modern adaptation by breaking the closed structure of the book with the touches he has brought to the ‘story. It also manages to create a very lively and strong atmosphere with beaches, cafes, streets and jazz clubs. As Highsmith wraps up her novel with Ripley’s success, Minghella crushes Tom’s hopes in a corner. Whispering to herself that with false identities, she might continue her life on better terms, but that she won’t get rid of this feeling of “nobody” in her.

“I’ve always thought it’s better to be a fake someone than a real person.”(**) Highsmith, when asked if Ripley is gay, says he’s not gay, that he might be bisexual at best, but to make a definition, he’s asexual.

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