My friend the Author posted a review of The Road on her blog. I want to see the movie next year, the story line being moderately interesting and the cast interesting. Her review makes the story line even more appealing. (i.e., not just some post-apocalyptic meandering) The ’stuck’ part is my general philosophy: haven’t read the book? Don’t do it before seeing the movie. I’m looking forward to having a bit of free time around the holidays. After reading her review, I’m tempted to put it on my holiday reading list. But the movie’s coming out! What am I to do??
One of the most striking examples of why I cling to this Kinoweltanschauung ... L.A. Confidential The Movie. If you've never read the book, I recommend it in the strongest terms. It's huge. It's an epic work of modern American fiction. James Elroy writes brutally honestly. The violence was occasionally brutal. It's the first time I've ever had a "oh, god I can't look" moment while reading.
The film remains one of my all-time favorites. The multiple stories intertwine elegantly, an accomplishment few manage, much less manage well. It's a story of huge scope, with a cast of - if not thousands - hundreds. Yet the book is ... surprisingly different.
L.A. Confidential The Book is far more complicated than the movie. In an interview with Elroy, he expressed his enthusiasm for the quality of the screenplay, since he thought the novel was "just fucking un-adaptable". Thankfully he was wrong. The simplification of the story lines into the screen play is an example of the scriptwriter truly seeing the important events & facts. Rather like Lord of the Rings, where lines appear in the script in different places by different characters, but being artistically critical (rather then person-critical) are used where needed to make the screen play work.
The Mexican girl in the movie, who gets rescued by Exley, is indeed in the book as well, with a completely different role beyond "girl who gets rescued". Or Rollo Tommasi, who appears from a completely different direction (as Exley Sr. isn't dead in the book).
One is left realizing the film and the book are two very different creations using the same ingredients to achieve very different, if superficially similar, pieces. The movie, to be taken on its own merits, really needs to be seen without prior knowledge of the plot. Else one is left, sort of like Harry Potter, with the abrupt interruption your submersion into the story by realizing 'hey, that's not in the book'. It's easier to ignore things that are missing than things that have been added, no matter how effectively. Prisoner of Askaban being a good example: it wasn't just a matter of cutting things out, but how some integral information is put back in, done well, but a burp in the story flow, if one's already read the book.
One is, in the reverse, conflicted with the impact of the director's visual presentation versus your personal imagination. Having seen the movie version, I was left with the images of Guy Pierce, Russel Crowe and Kevin Spacey while reading L.A. Confidential. Whereas with Harry Potter or Master & Commander, I had a pretty clear picture from the books of what I thought the characters looked like before seeing the films. While I'm not so sure about Potter (having read Sorcerer's Stone a week before the movie), watching Lord of the Rings or Master & Commander was like putting on a jacket you are surprised to find fits so nicely: that's just how it ought to look, even if it's not how I had pictured it myself.
I've rarely been disappointed in a book, after enjoying a good movie. The reverse is, unfortunately, not true.
-- ed. - The Road got postponed to "some time in 2009" ... sigh ...
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