Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Book or The Movie?

Unless you loathe reading (and therefore don't read), I'm sure most of you would agree that the book is almost always better. I finished reading "Lolita" yesterday and spent most of this morning watching Stanley Kubrick's "Lolita." I was actually quite pleased with the movie, particularly the casting--Sue Lyon who played an entirely believable young yet sexy Lolita. The film also stayed quite true to the book which surely satisfies fans of the novel (I'm still not sure if I fall into that category) but what the film does lack is a glimpse into the mind of our perverted protagonist. Since the film is not narrated by HH (as, I believe, the 1997 version is), the audience never knows the intimate thoughts of our thoughtful pedophile, hence they never fully realize how wicked he truly is. This was probably an intentional move made by Kubrick, as it takes out some of the shock-value of the story. A tale of sex between a young girl and a man thrice her age was surely shocking enough for the 1962 America that this film was released to. It proved to be shocking enough for me, who, 50 years later, is living in an era of reality TV, internet porn, and HBO.

And now I am quite ready to put Lolita behind me. I have begun another novel, this one also dealing with tortured love, Garcia Marquez's "Love in the Time of Cholera." From the book jacket, I can tell you that this is a story of lovers separated and (fifty-one years, nine months, and four days) later reunited. I am sold.

But back to the topic at hand. I am curious if there are any movies out there that you thought were actually BETTER than the book. I can think of two offhand. The first I haven't either read or seen in years--but still my vote would be for Wladyslaw Szpilman's memoir, "The Pianist." I remember the book being good, but lacking the imagery and horror portrayed in the film. The scene in which the Nazi throws the paraplegic grandfather out the window for not standing up on command still haunts me.

In second place, I would like to nominate the Oscar winning film "Slumdog Millionaire" that outshines the (quite good) book it is based off of, Vikas Swarup's "Q&A." Perhaps I am biased since I saw the movie first and it is currently one of my favorite films, but I find the cinematography breathtaking. One of my friend's commented that you could freeze any frame of that film and have a beautiful [and intimate] photo of India. It's true. The story told in both the novel and the movie is beautiful and original, but the book reads more like a series of short stories and lacks the string that ties everything together--long lost love. Finally, I am sucker for the film's music, particularly the song and dancing scene during the closing credits. That's just something a book, no matter how good, can do.

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