Harold Pinter's adaptation of Proust's famous novel and based on "The Proust Screenplay" by the same author.
The Captive, originally published in 1923, tells the story of Marcel and Albertine, now kept by the narrator in his Paris home. This co-habitation is not based on love, nor even lust, but on the obsessive jealousy of Marcel based on his almost psycopathic fear of Albertine's lesbian proclivities. By this point in the novel, Marcel has removed himself from society and is content to remain for the most part in his room. Albertine, living in an adjoining room, is allowed out of the house only with a chaperon and to destinations decided in advance by Marcel. It is the ironic twist that Proust puts on the idea of imprisonment that forms the backbone of this part of the novel. Not only is Albertine kept prisoner by Marcel, but Marcel is no less the prisoner of his own obsession.
It can arguably be stated that each of the parts of the novel corresponds to one of the senses. If this is the case, the Captive surely corresponds to the sense of hearing. It is while listening to Vinteuil's septet that Marcel realizes that art is more than the mechanical manipulation of ideas by color, words or music. Just as Vinteuil has created a complex musical form out of the "catchy" phrase so admired by Swann and Mme Verdurin's little group, Marcel awakens to the limitless possibilities of artistic expression. This epiphanic moment awakens in the narrator a desire to commit himself to the life of a writer. In order to accomplish this wish, he decides that he must end his affair with Albertine. Marcel's decision to part with Albertine on his own terms is thwarted when he learns that it is she who has made the final break and has left his apartment.
Thus begins The Fugitive (originally translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff, with a freight train full of poetic license, as The Sweet Cheat Gone). The Fugitive represents the most introspective part of a very introspective novel, and in it Proust's zeal for self-examination is pursued with un-relentless fervor as layer upon layer of the author's persona in exposed to the reader.
Marcel's world is turned up side down when he learns that Albertine has died in a riding accident. His obsession, so debilitating when his mistress was alive, continues unabated after her death and the narrator continues with his scrutiny of Albertine's private life as if she was still alive. He finally realizes that obsession cannot be eliminated by death and that relief can only come with the passsing of time and the ensuing state of oblivion. Although Albertine's memory has not been totally erased, the torment that she has caused Marcel diminishes greatly and he is able to resume his life and work.
However, it is a different world into which Marcel emerges after his long period of grief. Just as Marcel's personal life was changed by a freak accident, the social life in which he has emersed himself is going through social changes just as fundamental. The old aristocracy, becoming more and more deperate for cash, is falling prey to the easy lure of mariages of convenience in which aristocratic titles are exchanged for hefty dowries. His two friends, Gilberte Swann and Robert de Saint-Loup, are married to each other thus accomplishing what Charles Swann could never do - have his daughter received by the Duchess de Guermantes. Even more revolutionary, a simple seamstress (Jupien's niece) marries into the aristocracy forever destroying any romantic impressions that Marcel might still hold of the Guermantes and Meseglise Ways. Clearly Marcel's world is changing, but it is the change in his friend, Robert de Saint-Loup, that causes him the greatest pain as he realizes that even friendships are all too often broken by the passage of time.