The Latin American journalist Isabel Allende, who wrote the bestseller on which the film, "The House of the Spirits" is based (the movie starring Jeremy Irons, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Vanessa Redgrave and Wynona Ryder has had mixed reviews), was so disenchanted with certain Hollywood suits that the film almost didn't get made. "When the book was first published," says she, "I had several offers to do the movie, but I was so horrified by the people. Everything they said sounded so flamboyant and artificial. No one seemed to have a grasp on reality. So I told my agent I wanted no more contact with directors or producers and that I didn't want to make the movie."
Then along came Bille August, the Ingmar Bergman protege, and Allende changed her tune. "After seeing Bille's movie, 'Pelle the Conqueror,' and discussing "The House of the Spirits" with him, within half an hour I knew he was the one." And watching the picture being made was a moving experience for Allende. "Not only did it bring back memories," she says, "but now when I think of my grandmother, I don't think of my real one -- I always think of Meryl Streep, who plays her in the movie. It's a wonderful feeling." Meryl must feel pretty good about it too, because she's had the best reviews of anyone concerned.