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Posts Tagged ‘movie’


Hello Blogosphere!  It sure has been a while since I’ve written on this blog.  A couple of quick updates…

  • I have been doing a ton of writing this year.  Several essays, a couple of short stories, and of course, my middle grade novel.  I may not reach my yearly goal of 12 personal essays, but I’m not too far off.
  • I am finish up my children’s novel for Nanowrimothis year and I am almost done!  I will finish Nano successfully for the first time this year.
  • My weight loss blog is doing very well.  I have lost 127 pounds with only 46 more to go.
  • My overall health is great.

Now, onto what I really wanted to write about today…

catching fire

I saw the new Hunger Games movie last night.  I am a huge fan of the books, which I re-read in preparation to see this movie.  Anyone who has read my blog in the past knows that I am definitely an advocate of reading the book before seeing the movie.

That said, let me start my review.

Any time a book is adapted for the screen, there will be changes in how the story is told.  Film is a completely different medium, after all.  Events that can take pages or chapters to describe in a book can be done more effectively with imagery and music in film.  Conversely, a character’s inner dialogue, which can be so revealing in a book, can often be lost in film. Some film makers often use voice-overs to fill that gap, but done poorly, voice-overs can ruin an otherwise good movie.  Francis Lawrence did not use voice-overs, thankfully.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.  I thought it was a good adaptation from book to screen.  There were changes, of course, but I thought they were very true to the source material.  I think anyone who is a fan of the books will love it.  Anyone who hasn’t read the books but liked the first movie, I think will like it as well.  But be prepared, this is not your typical feel-good, holiday movie.  This movie is very emotional and has a very mixed ending.  Some good, some bad, a lot of heart-break, and a cliffhanger. Overall, I give the movie 4 out of 5 stars.

*******SPOILER ALERT BELOW!!**********

Some things that I thought were lost in this retelling:

  • Katniss’s inner dialogue and the way she analyzes each situation or thinks through the problem at hand.  Don’t get me wrong, Jennifer Lawrence does a fantastic job, but it’s hard to translate that inner struggle sometimes.
  • A sense of time.  The film sometimes felt a little rushed.  There was no sense of the time that had passed between events.  In the book there were 6 months between the 74th Hunger Games and the victory tour, A couple more months between the tour and the announcement of 75th HG, the Quarter Quell.   Then a few more months until the actual games themselves.  In total, between the 74th HG and the 75th, there was a full year.
  •  We lost the wedding dress montage.  Thankfully.  In the book, a lot of prep goes into Katniss & Peeta’s engagement and wedding.  The citizens of Panem have the chance to vote on her wedding dress and there is an entire episode where she is filmed trying on dress after dress.  Thankfully, unlike the citizens of Panem, we were spared that spectacle.
  • We lost the preparation Peeta, Haymitch, and Katniss did before the games.  We also lost learning more about the other tributes through the research Peeta & Katniss did ahead of time.

That said, I do not think any of this distracted from the quality of the movie, particularly if you have not read the books.

What I loved about the movie:

  • Nothing was sugar-coated. Katniss is clearly suffering from PTSD from the last games throughout the movie.
  • The emotional connection she feels towards her family, Gale, Peeta, the other tributes, Cinna, and other people she cares about is palatable.   This keeps the movie from being just an action film.
  • I love the inclusion of showing events from Snow’s p.o.v. and Heavensbee’s p.o.v.  I think that adds a real depth to the film and ratchets up the tension.
  • Conversations with her sister.  They are few and far between in the movie, but when they do happen, you can see the connection they share.  You also know that her sister is quite clearly becoming her own person and does not need Katniss to protect her any more.
  • The friendships she begins to form with the other tributes during the games.  They work together and save each other over and over.  At one point she turns to Peeta and asks, “How are we ever going to be able to kill these people.”
  • The scene in District 11 when Peeta & Katniss speak about Thresh & Rue.  Very emotional.

I really enjoyed the movie.  That said, I was not jazzed with the ending.  I know that it was pretty true to the book, and it was a hook to get you into the 4th movie, whenever that is released, but I still found it unsettling.  The Lord of the Rings Trilogy had cliff hanger endings as well, but they always ended on a somewhat hopeful note.  Francis Lawrence could take a page out of Peter Jackson’s playbook and give us a little more to hold onto.  I’m not saying have a happy ending, but this is the start of the revolution.  Ending the Capitol’s stranglehold on the districts, while complicated emotionally, is a good thing.

Yes, the movie ends with Katniss, Finnick, and Beetee being rescued from the arena, while Peeta & Johanna are captured by the Capitol.  District 12 is in ashes.  Thousands are dead.  Everything is in disarray.  But the revolution has begun and there are hints that the citizens of Panem can really hope they are able turn the tide and take control of their own fates. That, at least, is something to hold onto.

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So, the Oscars start in 20 minutes.  I saw all but one of the movies nominated.  I have not seen Beast of the Southern Dawn, which I am disappointed about.  I really wanted to see that.  So, real quick, here are my predictions for the top 6.

Best Movie: Silver Linings Playbook

Best Female Actor in a Leading Role: Jennifer Lawrence

Best Male Actor in a Leading Role: Daniel Day Lewis

Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role:  Anne Hathaway

Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role: Robert Di Nero

Best Director: Ben Affleck David O Russell

I saw Les Mis today.  Spectacular movie, but way to freaking long.  It’s not their fault entirely.  Victor Hugo’s original work was over 1600 pages.  But Silver Linings Playbook has just stuck with me.

Anyway, enjoy the show!  Hopefully, I can get some tweets in!  🙂

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This weekend I downloaded on iTunes and watched the movie Melancholia.  I love odd movies and this movie seemed to fit the bill.  I opted to purchase the movie outright instead of renting it.  I have rented movies from iTunes before only to purchase the movie a couple of days later.  I just knew that I would like this movie, so I figured why waste the money, just purchase it now.  My sister tells people that the longer, stranger, and boringer the movie is, the more likely it is I will love it.  In fact, if there is any way a movie can be made so it is like watching an historical documentary, omg I love it!

Well, OK maybe that’s not entirely true, but I do love a variety of movies.

So, what did I think of Melancholia?

 

Let’s just say I should have rented it.  What went wrong you ask?  The visuals were stunning.  The storyline was potentially fascinating, giant planet (Melancholia)  headed towards earth, supposedly only to do a fly-by and not crash into earth, we promise, pinky-swear, right hand up to God.  Insert compelling cast of characters and watch their lives unravel as the clock ticks down to the inevitable outcome and bam you have a hit.  Potentially awesome movie.  Except it wasn’t.

Why didn’t it live up to the hype?  Characters.  The creators of this movie took a potential win and threw it into the path of Melancholia by creating a host of characters I simply could not care about.  And that is supremely disappointing because I was disposed to love this movie.  Instead I found myself praying Melancholia would smash into Earth just so the movie would end.

My brother disagrees with me and thinks it was a great character study about the two sisters.  The one who spent the movie as the solid, stable sister holding the whole family together who falls apart at the end versus the crazy sister who pulls it all together at the end.  Yeah, that could be interesting if I cared enough about the two sisters to even remember their names for this post.

Which brings me to the point of my post.  Creating believable characters that people can care about.  I’m not talking about making people love your characters, because let’s face it, there are a lot of pretty unlikeable characters in literature, movies and TV.

When writing characters, however, you have to give your readers something to hold onto to, that ephemeral quality that your readers can identify with that draws them into the story.  Generally, this is easy to do with protagonists.  For example, Harry Potter, the lonely orphan child in the cupboard under the stairs, treated badly by his Aunt, Uncle and cousin, who longed for a better life with the loving parents he never knew who also happens to be the greatest wizard the world will ever know.  Compelling right?  I suppose a lesser author could have mucked that up, but thankfully, on the 7th day, God created JK Rowling.

But just as important as creating great protagonists, an author must create a believable, complex antagonist that we can love to hate.  Let’s face it.  Where would Harry be without he-who-must-not-be-named aka Voldemort.

Let me give you two examples of compelling antagonists that I think have that “it” factor that can help draw the reader in and add a level of depth to your story.

Voldemort – Harry Potter Books

Voldemort is the quintessential evil bad guy, but not just because he did evil things.  Yes, he did do bad things.  He killed Harry’s parents and tried to destroy the wizarding world all the while plotting Harry’s demise.  Evil, evil man, yes.

But what makes Voldemort a great antagonist is his humanity.  All of the things we can identify with in Harry also exist in Voldemort.  Like Harry, he was an orphan child, alone in the world, hoping for a better future.  Like Harry, he finds out that he is special because he can do magic.  Like Harry, he can speak to snakes.  Like Harry, he was the greatest wizard of his day.  Harry even identifies with Voldemort on a certain level and struggles with his own identity trying to figure out how he could have so much in common with his nemesis.  He struggles to grasp how they can have such similarities and yet be so different.  What makes Harry good versus what makes Voldemort evil?  Who is to say Harry won’t end up going down the same path?

Voldemort is great not because he helps Harry overcome evil in the world, but because he helps Harry overcome the evil inside himself.

Dr. Hannibal Lecter – Silence of the Lambs

Do I really need to say anything about him?  Creepy, genius, eats his victims, strange moral center, a truly scary person.  Why do we like him so much?  Even now, just thinking about him, my skin is crawling.

Dr. Lecter is intelligent and refined.  He speaks calmly and slowly, looking you directly in the eye.  He studied psychiatry and thus knows human behavior and how to manipulate people.  He knows what he does and what he says repulses and frightens you, but his behavior draws you in and disarms you nonetheless.  He treats you with respect, so you are inclined to offer the same respect to him.  And then he calmly and brutally kills you and eats your liver with a side of fava beans a nice chianti.

This makes him one of the scariest characters in literature and the movies.  But what really makes him a great antagonist is that he can be all these things and show deference and respect to Clarrise Starling.  He challenges her to think about the evidence in a major unsolved string of murders and helps her catch the killer.  All the while, he is able to compel her to share very intimate details of her psyche.  Nonetheless, when he escapes custody, Clarrise is certain he will not come after her because, as she says, “he would consider that rude.”  And he confirms this by telling her he does not “plan to pay her a visit because the world is more interesting with her in it.”

So the scariest person you have ever met, who has managed to get inside your head and learn what makes you tick, and  has let you know what he is capable of doing to you is walking the streets free as a can be but  says he respects you enough to leave you alone.  I would never sleep again.  In fact, after writing this, I might not sleep tonight.

 

It is vitally important to make sure your readers or viewers care about your characters.  The characters are why we read the story, or see the movie.  The characters tell the story.  The characters help us care about your story.  It is through the eyes of your characters that we sometimes find out something about our own lives.  They don’t always have to be likable, but I think they always need to be great.

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Forgive Me Father for I Have Sinned

Yes, yes, I broke one of my own rules. I committed the cardinal sin of seeing a movie BEFORE I read the book. I know. The shame of it all.

The minute I could download on iTunes the movie Never Let Me Go, I did. I saw the trailer somewhere and I thought the story looked very compelling. I am also a fan of Carey Mulligan and enjoyed her acting in the movies An Education and Pride and Prejudice. Plus, it takes place in England, and since I have already expressed my deep appreciation of all things British, it was a win-win-win as far as I was concerned.

Just so you know, I do plan to discuss the plot of the story a little and the differences between the movie and the book, so if you would prefer not to know until you have had the chance to check them out yourself, stop reading now and come back to this post later.

I enjoyed the movie, even the creepy “reveal” scene where one of the teachers tells the children their true purpose in life, (more on that later).

Well, I finally read the book this week. True to form, I was not disappointed, the book was much better than the movie. Better mostly because of added depth and detail of the story, characters and their relationship to each other.

I loved the movie, but there was so much ground they did not cover, I think if I had read the book first, I may not have liked the the movie as much as I did.

Major Differences:

The first major difference was the love triangle. In the book, the love triangle is not nearly as pronounced as it was the movie. From the beginning of the movie practically, you feel an acute sense of injustice at the fact that Ruth pre-empts Kathy as Tommy’s girlfriend. Kathy is noticeably heartbroken and forever relegated to the role of third wheel.

In the book, Kathy is Tommy’s friend and does not really express romantic interest or heartbreak for much of the story. The relationship is much more complex and there is more of a slow, life-long growth towards a romantic interest than the perpetual yearnings of young unrequited love.

In both the book and the movie, Ruth betrays Kathy. In the movie, the betraying primarily revolves around Tommy. In the book, while the ultimate betrayal revolved around Tommy, Ruth’s betrayal is much more constant. Ruth is a “frienemy” in every sense of the word. She includes Kathy as one of her intimates and then later betrays her very early on. This continues throughout the story at Hailsham and the Cottages. But she also does care about Kathy, probably as much as she cares about anyone. When one of Kathy’s favorite possessions goes missing, Ruth, unbeknown to Kathy, recruits both male and female students to try to find it.

The big reveal, the astonishing plot of the both the book and the movie is that these children are clones created to donate their vital organs to keep “regular” people alive. They do not live past their mid-late 20s, although no specific age is given, and once they have made 3-4 donations, they die, or “complete” as they say in the story. The book and movie handle this very differently as well. In the movie, one of the teachers tells the children in a big dramatic scene and the children are stunned and horrified.

In the book, there is more of a slow build to this. In the book, the children always know that their job is to make donations, that is why they were created. They just aren’t told upfront what those donations will be. The reality is being revealed to them slowly a bit at a time, so it is not a huge shock when one of their teachers agonizes over whether to tell them the truth. As in the movie, she tells them, “you’re being told and not told” the truth of the purpose of your lives. So, by the time the truth is revealed to them, while the teacher struggles with the truth, the children are much more accepting. That is the horror of the book, not how stunned the kids are of their fate, but that their reaction is almost, “Yes, we know this, we will donate our vital organs until we die. You’re not telling us anything we do not already know.” That’s not to say the kids do not later try to find ways to put off their donations, or that they maybe do not dream of having a different kind of life, but they do not try to completely thwart the system.

The second big reveal comes right before the end. The kids talk about how they were trained at Hailsham to create art and write poems to “reveal their souls.” Tommy is one of the big proponents of this since he thinks it will allow the powers that be to look into his soul to show that he and Kathy are truly in love and therefore worthy of having their donations put off for a while. In both the book and the movie, it is revealed when they ask for a deferral that they were encouraged to create art not to reveal their souls, but to prove that they souls at all. To prove that they were, in fact, “all but human,” as their former teacher Miss Emily puts it. In the book it is left at that. In the movie, of course, so much more is revealed about how the clones are viewed by society as a whole and why Hailsham existed and why it ultimately closed.

One thing the movie did better than the book. The final scene where Kathy reflects on her life before she is set to begin her donations. She asks if in the end, where the lives of the donors any different than that of the people they help. She surmises, that after all, they all complete. Maybe none of them really understood the meaning of their lives or felt they had enough time. I found that insight to be touching and was noticeably absent from the book.

Obviously, I enjoyed the book so much more than the movie. I still enjoyed the movie, and I’m very glad that I downloaded it. This book, however, had so much depth and consequence, that I think you cannot get away with just watching the movie. I highly recommend both.

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I have to start this review with a bit of a confession.  I had placed this book on my ‘not-to-be-read-under-any-circumstances’  list  because I thought it was yet another vampire book.  I am not really a fan of the whole vampire genre.  See, when I was a teen, vampires were, well…scary.  They could be seductive, but only as a means to lure you in so they could kill you.  Vampires were not true romantic interests.  They were deadly.  To be feared and vanquished.  preferably with a swift, sharp stake in the heart followed immediately by decapitation.

The reason Buffy the Vampire Slayer was terrific (the movie, not the series) was because she killed vampires.  But this is also the point at which vampires started becoming romanticized. 

No wait, I’m wrong…Bram Stoker beat Buffy to it about a century earlier.  But even he had the sense to have his heroin’s love for the Dracula cure him of his vampirism before his death and thus allow him to attain salvation.  Buffy’s edge, she was  funnier, cooler, and had a keener fashion sense while kicking butt.

Since the movie  Bram Stoker’s Dracula, I have done my level best to avoid all vampire movies.  Well, except for that one time my sister tricked me into watching Dusk Til Dawn, which she promised me was definitely not a vampire movie.  I believed her.  Then  they get to the bar and some woman was dancing on a table.  That’s when my sister says to me, “Oh by the way, I lied.  This is a vampire movie.”   It was horrible.

Then Twilight happened.  And Edward happened.  Suddenly, vampires are  boyfriends.  I did read the Twilight series and see all of the movies.  I thought the Twilight series was OK, but I really still have a hard time thinking of Edward as an appropriate boyfriend.  And Bella wanting to become a vampire?  Um, no. 

A couple of weeks ago my teenage step-niece forced me to watch the trailer for the movie The Hunger Games at the same time letting me know she absolutely had  to see this movie and would I please, please, please take her to see it if her parents wouldn’t.  Yeah, I’m that kind of aunt. 

So, I rolled my eyes and prepared myself and watched the trailer.  When it was over, I was confused.  I said, “I thought this was about Vampires.”

Of course she looked at me like I was nuts and responded, “Duh, no, why would you think that?”

Well, because in my crazy adult mind, I was thinking Hunger = Hunger for Blood = Vampires.  Silly me.

Knowing that The Hunger Games had nothing to do with vampires increased by a factor of ten at least the likelihood I would read the book and see the movie.  So, I had her play the trailer again and I decided I needed to investigate this book further. Yes, of course I wanted to see the movie.   And since I have already established the “read the book before you see the movie” rule, I read the book.  Saturday, in fact.  I finished the second book yesterday and already have th third one on my kindle app.

Review:

I loved it.  I read the first two in one day each, which says a lot.  I love reading.  I consider myself and avid reader.  I am just a slow reader, so I do not put myself into the category of voracious reader.  For me to read a book in one day is a pretty big deal. 

The story was riveting enough to hold my attention and make me ignore all the shiny things the world has to offer, (TV, video games, the internet, etc)  The characters were believable and sympathetic.  The plot was creative and original.  The conclusion was difficult to sum up in one or two words.  Suzanne Collins masterfully gives you the ending you want, but still leaves you feeling that everything is still all wrong.  Kind of like in Stephen King’s the Stand.  The climax of the book has the “good” people destroying all of the “evil” people.  Yet at the end of the book, the citizens of the new society start locking their doors and distrusting one another. 

********Warning!  Spoiler Alert********

I am not going to give a summary of the book’s plot.  Many other sites do a much better, more succinct job than I could.  I want to talk about a couple of themes that spoke to me in the book.  This may have the effect of giving away some of the plot, so if you haven’t read the book or just want to see the movie, stop reading now.

Social Commentary:

The book is so much more than a young adult novel.  This book is a solid work of social commentary.  It is about as much a young adult novel as Lord of the Flies, The Crucible, and Animal Farm, which I read in 8th, 9th and 10th grade.  This only increases my respect for this book.  I do not know that the author meant it as social commentary, but it is.  The book critiques our obsession with reality TV, living in a war-like society, the control imposed by a dictatorial government, class warfare, and fear.

Control:

The Capitol city of Panem controls its citizens several ways, not the least of which is the Hunger Games themselves.  Travel is not permitted between districts, so residents never have a chance to get to know anything about their fellow countrymen.  The only thing they know about the people in the other districts is what service they provide.  District 12, Katniss Everdeen’s district, is known for coal mining.  Katniss’s ally Rue is from district 11, which produces fruits.  The only way anyone ever gets to know people from other areas of the country is during the Hunger Games, where the children of each district meet and then prepare to kill one another.  The only thing anyone ever really learns about other districts is what the region produces.  They know little about he people or how the districts’ local governments are administered.  This keeps the citizens divided, unable to organize an effective revolt, distrustful of each other, and fearful.

Class Warfare:

Class and economic disparity are a constant theme throughout the books.  Katniss Everdeen comes from the poorest neighborhood (the Seam) from the poorest of the twelve districts and lives in constant fear of death either by starvation or illness.  Katniss talks a lot in the book about how other people in her district have more than the people in the Seam as well as how much more the citizens from the richer districts have.  But that all changes when she gets to the capitol city and sees where the real wealth lies.  Through the games and her experiences int he capitol, we learn that all of the districts are under the thumb of the capitol city.  She learns of the real economic hardships of those she thinks have  so much more than her.  The family of her friend Peeta for example, own a bakery.  She assumes they are much more well-fed than the people from the Seam.  But Peeta let’s her know that even they cannot eat most of the bread and pastries they make.  From Rue, she learns that the people in her district are not allowed to eat the fruit they pick.  All of the districts exist to supply goods to support the lavish lifestyles of the Capitol.

Reality TV and War as Theatre:

Seems beyond belief that anyone would accept sending kids to fight and die every year in a reality tv show that everyone is forced to watch and cheer for.  Almost unreal that any society would be so masochistic and cruel.  Then I think of all of the reality shows that we watch.  We watch people destroy each other emotionally.  A chance at a modeling career, music contract to live with a group of people they don’t know or care about for eight weeks.  They eat disgusting food, live in unbearable conditions, form alliances, betray one another, and ruthlessly fight over money.  This is our entertainment.  That doesn’t even include what we watched at the height of the past two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  I clearly remember at the beginning of the Iraq war, the war was on 24/7.  Huge bombs and explosions went off day and night and the news was happy to report every moment of it.  At least Panem asked for new children each year.  Some of the military personnel serving have been re-deployed so many times they have been fighting in war for about a decade.  In the books, Katniss really breaks down from her experience in the arena.  It changes her and makes her a different person with a vastly different view of the world.  In a way, part of her will never leave the Hunger Games.  I cannot imagine her experience let alone being a young person in my late 20s or early 30s deployed to war zones for a third of my life.

Rage Against the Machine:

One word, defiance.  What teenager doesn’t relish being defiant.  Katniss is a strong, defiant young woman.  At first she does not know this herself, but it is apparent in every part of her being.  She refused to starve and flouted the rules of District 12 to survive.  She escapes beyond the fence every day to hunt, fish, and gather food for her family.  She will not let her sister participate in the Hunger Games and volunteers to take her place.  When Rue is killed, she openly mourns the loss on TV instead of celebrating the death of an opponent.  In her farewell salute to Rue she openly thumbs her nose to the powers that be.  Most importantly, she refused to let the Game Keepers have their way at the end of the first book when she and her friend Peeta, the last two survivors threaten suicide rather than fight each other. 

Love and the Courage to Hope:

Katniss’s actions come from a place of courage and love as much as it does from being defiant.  Everything from Katniss does, from hunting to standing in for her sister, shows this.  She helps Peeta because of the love of the people in his district, if not for Peeta himself.  Peeta did declare his love for Katniss just before the games started.  She was never sure if he was being truthful or if it was all a ploy for the cameras.  She was convinced he meant to kill her in the end.  But through the course of the games they fight for each other to save one another.  She played up the romance, even though she was never sure if it was a true romance, to help them both live.  In the end, their pact to eat poisonous berries to deny the Capitol their champion, paid off and they were both declared winners. 

Like I said, the book has the ending you want.  You cheer the main characters on.  You want both Katniss and Peeta to win.  It breaks your heart to think that Katniss and Peeta might have to fight each other to the death.  Both of them survive, but you’re still left feeling sullied for having even participated. 

I’m currently reading the third book and I’m going to see the movie tonight.  I promise a full review of the movie this weekend.

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Did that make you cringe?  Yeah, me too.

With Emmy-Oscar season upon us, I have been thinking a great deal about my love of movies, which often leads to thinking about my love of books.

I love to read.  I’m not a fast reader, nor would I qualify myself as a voracious reader.  But I feel comfortable saying that I probably read more than the average bear.

I also love the movies.  I do not limit myself there either.  I love the sappy rom-com as much I love heady, intellectual documentary or biopic.  I crowd into theaters with the masses to watch the big summer block-busters as quickly as I do to see the latest Oscar contender.

For me, reading books and watching movies are not necessarily mutually exclusive activities.  As any Twi-hard Potter-maniac will tell you, seeing the movie is simply the natural extension of reading the book.  I love having  stories and characters from books brought to life through movies.  Yes, there are always disappointments, the second Bridget Jones movie for example. But then movies such as Lord of the Rings are a wonder to behold.

So, imagine my horror when a friend said to me, “There’s no point in reading Lord of the Rings, there’s a movie now.  Besides, the books are too long anyway.”

My answer:  Read the book(s).  The book is always better than the movie.  I have never come across an instance where the movie was better than the book.  Never once.  Furthermore, reading  opens the creative center of the brain, forcing you to imagine the scenes and people in the stories.  Movies are fun, yes, but watching a movie lacks the interaction the reader has with the story and the author.

I also find that many movies based on books are not true to the book.  Plots are sometimes changed, characters changed or several characters are merged.

The problem with making a book into a movie is often time.  Movies cannot plod along plot points, description and dialogue, certainly not in a 90 minute period.  Fortunately, movies have many more devices to tell a story available to them that books do not.  Movies can use music and imagery to tell a story in a way text cannot convey.  I can forgive losing a character or a plot point if the story is told creatively or told in an interesting manner.

Let me give you two examples from two movies that I love.

Lord of the Rings:

The Lord of the Rings trilogy I think was brilliantly portrayed in the movie as written and directed by Peter Jackson.  Yes, some of the story was changed, but I thought he did a great job of distilling the main point of the movie down into an enjoyable movie experience.

One of the things I most enjoyed was how he used imagery to tell the story.  In the second movie, LOTR The Two Towers, the story begins with Gandalf falling in Khazad Dum to what is assumed his death.  There we find out that he fell, but did not die.  He fought the Belroq monster until he hits the water.  At which point, Frodo awakens from a dream.  Later in the movie, Strider, Legolas and Gimli meet Gandalf in the forest and then we learn the rest of the story, told partly through dialogue and partly through imagery.

In the book, the reader does not have any inclination that Gandolf will return until about almost the halfway point when Strider, Legolas and Gimli meet him in the forest.  He then explains in great detail what happened to him in Khazad Dum and beyond.

Here’s the problem…who has time for a 15-20 minute monologue in a movie?  The Lord of the Rings movies are already 2 1/2 to 3 hours long.

I love how Jackson handled that.  His use of imagery and dialogue did three things for me in this instance.

  • He dropped a hint that Gandalf was returning to the story.
  • His use of imagery – dream sequence at the begining of the movie connected it to the first movie reminding everyone about where we left off.
  • He condensed the monologue from the book into a 1 minute conversation that told Gandalf’s tale quickly to move the story along.

The Age of Innocence

I’ll start with this movie by stating the obvious, Martin Scorsese is a genius.  Of course, one expects someone to say that when refering to some of his other heavy hitting movies such as Goodfellas or Raging Bull or Taxi Driver.  All excellent movies without question.  The Age of Innocence, however, is one of my favorite book-to-movie adaptations.

First off, the adaptation from book-to-movie is the best I have ever seen.  To my recollection, Scorsese left out one character and kind of merged her with another character.  Then he glossed over the wedding and wedding breakfast scenes from the book.  Not crucial scenes in my opinion.

His use of imagery and voice over were just genius.  He brought to life the early 20th century with his use of color, scenery and costume.   His use of voice over captured the conservative sense of conformity and rigidity in the higher archical society that was turn of the century New York City.

He did what many film makers have tried to do for decades.  He took a piece of literature and successfully translated it from book to screen.

So, why read the book?  You tell me.

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