Friday, January 1, 2010

First Post of 2010!

Rather than reminisce and make myself feel old (I was in HIGH SCHOOL at the beginning of the decade) or talk about "resolutions" (I'll leave that to Karen Denise, who is hosting a contest about them) that are cliche and bore my one or two readers to death, I thought I would talk about something controversial.Movies that I like better than the books.

I got the idea from reading this blog post, in which ten movies that the blog writer considered better than their written counterparts are listed. I am only going to discuss five movies today, and I am also going to explain WHY I think the movies are better in a little bit of detail.

I will give the disclaimer that, in general, I like the written work better. One in awhile, however, I feel that the movie surpasses the book, and here are five such instances, for me:

1. Bram Stoker's Dracula

I'm not going to lie - I never quite finished Bram Stoker's actual novel. Were I to re-read Stoker's work in its' entirety, my opinion might differ. I had trouble finishing the novel, however, because I didn't particularly like Stoker's writing style, and I definitely did not care for the epistolary style he adopted with the diary and letter excerpts. Epistolary works are not my favorite - they have to be very carefully done for me to like them.

The movie, on the other hand, was beautiful and grotesque. Seeing the lush landscapes and beautiful costumes was a treat for my eyes. And the changes that the script made to Stoker's written work were favorable to me. I liked the backstory that they gave to Count Dracula. I liked the romance, and the fact that the movie gave the monster something of a heart, and even a choice as to whether or not to be horrible. He chose horrible, which is so much of what made the movie a horror movie.

In essence, the movie spoke to me in a way that the book did not.

2. Breakfast at Tiffany's

Don't get me wrong - I like Truman Capote's short story. He created a fantastic character with Holly Golightly, and I can understand why he was upset that his character wasn't portrayed by someone like Marilyn Monroe. Audrey Hepburn WAS too classy to be Capote's Holly. Yet no one who has seen the movie can deny that Audrey's Holly was entrancing and beautiful and delicate and wonderful.

I suppose I should admit that I am biased with respect to this movie/book combination, as well, for I adore Audrey Hepburn. Thus far, I have always enjoyed seeing her in a movie (admittedly, I have not seen all of them). She was a terrific actress, and turned "Breakfast at Tiffany's" into a different creation, but one that is beautiful all the same.

I simply adore Audrey Hepburn's Holly Golightly too much to wish that the movie production had been made without her, and therefore, been a more faithful adaptation of Capote's work.

3. The Secret of Nimh

I read this book and saw this movie when I was a child, but even then, I was struck by the fact that I enjoyed the movie more. I honestly cannot remember why. I know that I liked both the book AND the movie, but I liked the movie more. I read profusely as a child (much more than I do now), so I still trust the judgment.

4. Troy

This movie is one that I am somewhat ambivalent about. As a former Classical scholar, of course, I am in love with the "Iliad." There is no question about that - were the "Iliad" a person rather than a work of literature, I would make love to it. The story, the characters, the history, the mythology, in this work are so interesting, and so well put together, that anyone who has no appreciation for it whatsoever and was aware of its' existence is a moron.

I do like the movie in and of its' own right, and consider it better as an adaptation that people today will: 1. want to watch, and 2. be able to relate to.

See, one of the problems with the "Iliad," which I can admit, despite my fervor for the work, is that it's old. The people who go: "Um...duh I haven't seen that. It's not even in color" when referring to movies are, of course, going to have problems when trying to read the "Iliad." I think "Troy" does a good job of taking a monstrous work, and paring it down, while also making it more relatable to a modern audience.

The fact is, guys, Achilles didn't love Briseis. He was just pissed Agammemnon took her away because she was his war prize. Women were property to these dudes, especially the women from a different city.

Achilles was, on the other hand, a major asshole. The movie tried to make him a bit more likeable, but he was. Most guys were. Even Odysseus (I'm sorry, but going around philandering with goddesses and other women while your wife desperately staves off suitors and would-be rapists is fucked up. He may be smart, but by my standards, Odysseus is far, far, far from the ideal husband).

Considering the grand scope of the "Iliad," and all of the accompanying myths that are necessary to understand the "Iliad," I thought this movie was well done. With respect to modern audiences, filled with people who cannot comprehend why every human being can't just speak English to make things easier on them, I think that the movie is better than the epic poem.

More educated people, who have read the "Iliad," are going to comment on the fact that the timespan was miraculously short for a war, particularly the TEN YEARS the Trojan war is supposed to have been waged.

I'm ambivalent, but I enjoyed this movie.

5. Peter Pan

This entry isn't just with respect to the Disney movie, but to the idea of Peter Pan that I grew up with, and which I realized recently is mistook.

I thought Peter Pan was about a boy who doesn't want to grow up, and doesn't have to, because of the magical place that he lives in. I thought he was some statement about how being an adult is tough, and you shouldn't let the kid in you die, because then you won't have any fun in life.

Instead, when I actually read J.M. Barrie's play, I was overwhelmed with this feeling that Peter was not a good, Victorian boy. That he was cheating himself out of a lot, by not growing up, and would, in fact, if he chose never to leave Never Never Land, become a filthy, perverted pirate, intent on killing little boys for some reason, though he used to be one.

Reading the play was a disappointment because of the connotations Peter Pan has come to have in our society today.

I like J.M. Barrie's work, in general, I guess I just like the Peter Pan myth I grew up with more.

Those are my picks. Like I said earlier, you're welcome to disagree with them. Leave a comment, tell me why I'm wrong. Or tell me a movie that YOU think is better than the book.


Possum said...

I was in grade four at the start of the decade. =|

Like you, I never quite finished Dracula. I mean, I almost made it, but I didn't. I just got distracted one day, and I never went back. I can say this is the case with Interview with the Vampire, as well. But while I used to like the story of Dracula when I was younger (it scared me, but I liked it), I can honestly say Bram Stoker's Dracula was too much. Even when I was younger, I couldn't watch it. And when I tried to watch it recently, I had to stop. Maybe it's because I don't like horror movies, but this version had too much of a 'yuck' factor. Plus I really cannot stand Keanu Reeves.

I was halfway through reading Peter Pan (and enjoying it) but from what I did read of it, I didn't get the impression that Pete was tres awesome, like in the disney version. I agree with you.

But from the article you linked to, I agree with the Gone with the Wind movie/book. I mean, Gone with the Wind is one of my favorite movies. But I do have one problem ith it: One of the reasons why Rhett left Scarlett for good in the book HAPPENED in the movie. Plus the whole kids thing. -_-


Shelly Quade said...

Hi, Possum!

"I was in grade four at the start of the decade. =|"

Whoops...did I make you feel young? I didn't mean anything bad by my comment, I promise.

The movie "Bram Stoker's Dracula" is very intense. It's also very sexual - which makes sense, to me, as sex and vampires are often linked in the modern mythology. Still, I can see why someone might think it was too much.

With regards to Peter Pan - I liked reading it, I just didn't like Peter as much as I like him from Disney and other media sources. So it's cool to see that someone else is on the same page I am.

I cannot comment on "Gone With the Wind." The book kind of started boring me once I got halfway through, for some reason, and I've never seen the entire movie. I plan to, eventually, it just hasn't quite happened yet. Thank you for commenting on it, though. It's always nice to hear other people's perspectives.

Again, thanks for commenting! I really appreciate it!

Possum said...

No worries, you didn't make me feel young. It was just ratherweird to realize that, compared to you with "I was in HIGH SCHOOL at the beginning of the decade". Yes yes.

Yeah, I think one of the reasons why didn't like Bram Stoker's Dracula" is because of the sexual appeal. I mean, I understand vampires = sex (unless you're like, Twilight) but eh, I didn't care for Francis Ford Coppola's direction.

Gone with the Wind! It took me awhile to get through the movie but once I did, I read the book. I didn't want to read the book, as Scarlett embarrasing herself over a guy was embarrassing enough to watch, but I'm glad I did read it. It's good, overall. You should try it (again).

Anonymous said...

It will be great to watch Peter Pan, i have bought tickets from looking forward to it.