Thursday, February 26, 2004

Climate, Topography, Literature and Movies

I have little bit of advice for everyone who contemplates watching some of this years' (or future) "Oscar" contenders.

If you are to watch expensive "Oscar"-oriented adaptation of the literary bestseller, never, and I repeat never, read the novel beforehand.

Even if the movie adaptation happens to be faithful to the literary source, you are bound to be disappointed in one way or another.

Novels usually have hundreds of pages of text and often deal with the events spanning years, decades and dozens of characters. It is simply impossible to squeeze all that into 120-150 minutes of film. So, some subplots, characters and situations are to be erased.

Even those characters kept on the screen look like cardboard copies of those on the paper. Novelist can write detailed history for each of them; screenwriter can describe character only in broadest of terms. As a result, what used to be fascinating and intriguing character in the novel turns into simplistic cliché in the film.

When you read about certain character, you often create a certain picture in your head. When you finally see this character on screen being played by Hollywood star or some character actor that appears in dozens of movies each year, there isn't any suspension of disbelief – you know that you are watching Hollywood blockbuster instead of being drawn into story. Impression gets even worse if certain character you liked in the book is being played by an actor or actress you can't stand.

Last but not least, knowing what would happen to characters doesn't do much for enjoyment in the movie.

On the other hand, most Hollywood's literary adaptations are usually not very faithful to the source. That usually doesn't make them much better. On the contrary, lack of creativity in modern Hollywood is less insulting when it is covered by someone else's literary talent.


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