The other day my film-bonkers work colleague tells me he’s going to see Ang Lee’s Life of Pi at his local multiplex. Drat. I’d very nearly managed to obliterate all knowledge of its existence from my mind. Similarly, a few weeks before Christmas whilst quietly minding my own business, I almost came a cropper crossing the road as I see Keira Knightly’s face come into view on the side of a passing bus, the words ‘Anna Karenina’ plastered by her side… gutted.
I’m not averse to film adaptations of books. Indeed, Lee’s adaptation of Yann Martel’s bestselling novel is probably a feast for the senses and I can’t really pass judgement until I remortgage my house for the cinema ticket. Best of all, the success of the film should surely mean a resurgence in popularity for the much-loved book? Excellent. That aside, I can’t help but feel like any of my best-loved books, be they classics or otherwise, are going to escape the poking, prodding and mangling around by production companies desperate to make a bit of moolah. Although Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy promises to be quite spectacular, how does one, fair-sized children’s book translate into three feature-length films? Cash-in much Pete?
It’s a rare day that I tootle around the web searching for my favourite books without either stumbling across the IMDb site or some dodgy Youtube telly clip first. Can no one come up with their own ideas anymore? As a smug bookworm I would say not. That the world’s greatest stories and ideas naturally come to us through great literature and that people in other industries draw inspiration from them is no surprise… I just can’t help but feel slightly violated by it all.
That said (and three hobbit films aside) I’ve discovered some great stories through lazy television watching and have been musing lately over the good, the bad and the ones I simply can’t bring myself to watch! (Please feel free to recommend!)…
The Crimson Petal and the White (BBC mini-series, 2011) Romola Garai’s performance in this series was completely provocative and captivating. I was ashamed I’d never heard of the 800 + page romp of a novel and its accomplished author, Michael Faber.
A Single Man (2009 film, directed by Tom Ford) A devastating, sublime portrait of grief and a world-class performance by Colin Firth. A rare moment when a film is just as good as the wonderful book that inspired it.
Book vs film
South Riding (BBC mini-series, 2011) The trailer for the TV adaptation intrigued, as did the countless blog reviews for Winifred Holtby’s rediscovered masterwork. The TV series was a good adaptation but the book was a bit of a slog. Perfectly evocative of the Yorkshire landscape but just too many characters for me to become invested in.
The Remains of the Day (1993 film, directed by James Ivory) I read Ishiguro’s wildly lauded novel during a very difficult time in my life and it really hit the spot. English country butler Stevens’ story pulls at the heartstrings and Anthony Hopkins’ interpretation is pitch-perfect.
To watch or not to watch?
The Woman in Black (2012 film, directed by James Watkins) Susan Hill’s ghost story absolutely petrified me. Although I’m sure the recent film adaptation starring Daniel Radcliffe is equally as terrifying, it strikes me as all a bit ‘Hollywood’ for my liking. And – isn’t the ending completely DIFFERENT to the book!? *shudder*
The Green Mile (1999 film, directed by Frank Darabont) I seem to be the only person in the whole wide world who hasn’t seen Darabont’s harrowing depiction of Stephen King’s serial novel. I read it last year and it brought a tear to my eye…not sure I can hack the film…..
What films/TV series have you stumbled across that are worth having a look at? I’m in danger of being a bit book-snobby about it all at times……one of my goals of 2013 might be to re-address the balance….