Sunday, 8 August 2010

Movie Adaptations

As a book lover I’m not too fussed about movie adaptations. I have an image of the characters from the book and an emotional attachment that the movie seldom delivers.

They are both very different mediums, and for the record (yeah, like you care) I LOVE going to the movies, but the experience provided by the book is in my opinion superior.

Two adaptations I watched recently brought all of this to mind. For both movies I had to wait until it arrived in DVD because my local cinema will only show films that appeal to the mass market and celebrity brain washed. Anything that requires a brain cell, fugeddaboutit. And as for them showing a movie with subtitles, you have a better chance of Katie Price becoming a nun. (Mmm, this is me wondering when one of her “books” will be adapted for the big screen. Gawd help us)

One was The Road. Fantastic book; I blogged about it last year, but the movie kinda left me with the overriding feeling of – what was the feckin’ point of that? It stuck very closely to the story of the book, which is fine, but gave me nothing new.

The driver for me through this book was the father/ son relationship and the horrific feeling that the boy was going to die. At times I had to put the book aside so that I could calm down before reading on. The movie gave me nothing of that. It was well made, well acted and suspenseful in parts but it just didn’t get my old heart beating with worry the way that the book did. Would it have been better had I not read the book first? Anybody out there who has watched the movie and not seen the book I’d love to hear from ya.

Another was – big clue at the top of this post – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. And this is where my theory falls down because this was a fantastic movie. Tense, atmospheric, well acted and beautifully filmed this film held me rapt from beginning to end. This is, of course, the Swedish version – in subtitles –  which brings me back to my earlier grump; does the Odeon chain think that the only movies worth showing are those made in English?

( As for rental stores, it makes me groan/ laugh every time I hire a movie from my local DVD store and the assistant warns me grimly, “This film has sub-titles.” I know, I know lots of people will probably not see the giant sticker on the cover and come in and complain when they start to watch the film and their poor wee brains can't keep up with words and pictures at the same point. Bless 'em.)

Sure, I was familiar with the plot and that detracted from my enjoyment - un peu - (don't ask why I put in some french when talking about a Swedish movie. It's my blog I can do whatever the feck I like) but nonetheless this is a wonderful piece of film-making. I hear that Hollywood is due to make its own version and how can they ignore it given the shitload of books that have been sold?

My advice for what it’s worth; watch the Swedish version before Hollywood ruins it.


  1. Will definitely watch the Swedish version, Michael - haven't seen it yet. We love the Swedish version of Wallender - nothing beats a film/TV programme in its original setting and language.

  2. I saw THE ROAD without reading the book first. I meant to read it, but my son told me it was excellent but not, well, exactly a happy ever after book! Anyway, I love Viggo. What I received most from the film was that intense, overwhelming desire on the part of the father for his son to survive. How much time he spends teaching him and giving him advice for the future. His desire for his son to survive goes beyond a father's love for a child (which is strong between the two)- I felt it was primal,genetic coding - a desire to have a part of himself survive. And how the son processes his father, how he gets annoyed and frustrated by the father's distrust of other humans - because he doesn't understand, as the father does, how other survivors' biological imperatives would destroy him, should the father let his guard down. Anyway, I thought it was a profound and very disturbing movie. it pushed my buttons in terms of what it would be like to be a survivor in a post-apocolyptic world. (i do live 7 miles from the White House...eeecks) Victor Frankel pondered these ideas in his book about surviving a concentration camp - he needed to understand why he lived when so many others didn't.

  3. Rosemary - come back and let me know what you think. Have you read the book?

    Thea - EXCELLENT response. Kinda makes me want to go back and re-watch the movie.

  4. Yes, have read the first book and about to start on the second. Will let you know what I think.

  5. Haven't seen either film so can't comment but just want to agree in principle with your preference for the reading over the movie experience. The book makes you part of its reality, with movies (even the brilliant ones) there's the (physical) separation between you and the medium as well as the fact that it's a shared experience. Some prefer that but I want that feeling of being lost and ceasing to exist in my own world.