Copyright © First Look Pictures






A Map of the World
by Jane Hamilton

"Jane Hamilton has removed all doubt that she belongs among the major writers of our time."--San Francisco Chronicle

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  • About the Book

    From the author of the widely acclaimed The Book of Ruth comes a harrowing, heartbreaking drama about a rural American family and a disastrous event that forever changes their lives.

    The Goodwins, Howard, Alice, and their little girls, Emma and Claire, live on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. Although suspiciously regarded by their neighbors as "that hippie couple" because of their well-educated, urban background, Howard and Alice believe they have found a source of emotional strength in the farm, he tending the barn while Alice works as a nurse in the local elementary school.

    But their peaceful life is shattered one day when a neighbor's two-year-old daughter drowns in the Goodwins' pond while under Alice's care. Tormented by the accident, Alice descends even further into darkness when she is accused of sexually abusing of a student at the elementary school. Soon, Alice is arrested, incarcerated, and as good as convicted in the eyes of a suspicious community. As a child, Alice designed her own map of the world to find her bearings. Now, as an adult, she must find her way again, through a maze of lies, doubt and ill will.

    A vivid human drama of guilt and betrayal, A Map of the World chronicles the intricate geographies of the human heart and all its mysterious, uncharted terrain. The result is a piercing drama about family bonds and a disappearing rural American life.

    "Stunning prose and unforgettable characters . . . an enthralling tale of guilt, betrayal, and the terrifying ways our lives can spin out of control." --Entertainment Weekly

    "It takes a writer of rare power and discipline to carry off an achievement like A Map of the World. Hamilton proves here that she is one of the best." --Newsweek

    "Ms. Hamilton has done a nimble job of showing us how precarious the illusion of safety and security really is." --The New York Times

    "Hamilton's chillingly accurate prose keeps her fine novel buoyant. She is superb in her observation of the natural world and in her examination of psychological nuance." --The Washington Post

    About the Author

    Jane Hamilton lives, works, and writes in an orchard farmhouse in Wisconsin. Her short stories have appeared in Harper's magazine, and her first book, The Book of Ruth, was awarded the 1989 PEN/Hemingway Foundation Award for best first novel. Seven years after its publication, The Book of Ruth was chosen for the Oprah Book Club, giving it a second life. In 1994 Hamilton published A Map of the World which became an international best seller, and in 1998, The Short History of a Prince, which won the Heartland Prize for Fiction, and was shortlisted for Britain's Orange Prize.

    About the Film

    Now a major motion picture from First Look Pictures, starring Sigourney Weaver, Julianne Moore, and David Strathairn.

    ". . . arguably the richest and most challenging role of her career. . . . Under Scott Elliott's perceptive direction, Weaver responds with a luminous portrayal that misses no nuances or implications. . . . Alice requires nothing less than a heroic portrayal--and that is precisely what Weaver gives her." --Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times

    ". . . her performance in this film may be the best of her career. . . . I think Weaver is a very good bet for an Oscar nomination." --Roger Ebert, Roger Ebert & The Movies

    ". . . a surprisingly gripping and moving experience. . . a vivid starring performance by Sigourney Weaver--and skillful direction by first-time helmer Scott Elliott." --NY Post

    Producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall invited OBIE-winning theater director Scott Elliott to direct the film of A MAP OF THE WORLD after seeing his work in 1996 at the American stage premiere of Arthur Miller's "The Ride Down Mt. Morgan." One of New York theater's brightest young talents, Elliott immediately accepted. He loved Jane Hamilton's novel (voted one of the 10 best novels of 1994 by Entertainment Weekly, People, Miami Herald and Publishers Weekly), but commitments to direct two Broadway plays meant that he could not focus on the project for seven months.

    Formerly an actor, Elliott earned a degree in film and psychology from New York University before he began directing theater. All these elements finally coalesced to propel Elliott into film. "Scott always wanted to be a film director. This material is the perfect project to make the first step," says Kennedy who, with Marshall and Elliott, held creative discussions which led to the writing of the screenplay.

    Elliott and his writer friend Peter Hedges holed themselves up for a month, and Hedges completed the screenplay in the spring of 1997. Hedges, who adapted his novel What's Eating Gilbert Grape for the screen, says, "One of Scott's great gifts is that he sees what's possible where other people don't. He has clear ideas." In adapting the novel of A Map of the World, they tried not to overwrite the piece. Hedges explains, "The power of this is in its silences and implications."

    Elliott concurs. "It's a real human drama. It has no effects, it's really bare, very spare, and it's about the people. That's why I got excited about doing it because that's what appeals to me about directing."

    Author Jane Hamilton was impressed by the adaptation. "I think the script is a very good distillation. I was very pleased with it. Cinematically, the ending works. Interestingly enough, it was the same ending that I had in the first 20 drafts of my novel, so I felt they were very in tune with it. It couldn't have ended better."

    "While it's a very tragic story, it's also a human comedy," says Elliott. "Alice's sense of humor, joie de vivre and spirit is what really gets her through. Our brains operate in such a way that allow us to live through the worst of things and bounce back so that we're able to go on with life. When you have a solid sense of humor, you're always able to triumph over the worst kinds of tragedies."

    A Cinerenta Filmproduktion of a Kennedy/Marshall Production, A MAP OF THE WORLD is produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, Co-produced by Lisa Niedenthal, with Willi Bär serving as Executive Producer. Worldwide sales are being handled by Overseas Filmgroup.



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