Friday, July 25, 2014

The Trouble With Film Adaptations

So back when I was smiting evil over in Westmere, I took some of the resident blu-ray collection out for a spin, and one of the ones I watched was the Stanley Kubric adaptation of Lolita.

It was..... not bad. It definitely had its merits, I didn't think that it was possible for a story about a filthy paedophile despoiling his 12 year old stepdaughter to be funny, and yet there were definitely moments that appealed enough to my dark sense of humour, black as the ace of clubs as it is, to make me giggle a bit (not the despoiling bits mind you, those were just kind of weird, it was the parts in the build-up to those bits that were the humerous ones) - "Ohhh you man!" has become something of a personal meme to me.

(Before I continue I think I ought to put this in some context so that no-one jumps to the wrong conclusions. "Ohhh you man!" is a line said by the very much a grown adult Charlotte Haze as the guy she's crazy for gives her a bit of affection. It took off with me because the whole sequence is just so hilariously fifties, or possibly late-forties.)

Its probably a testament to just how good of a film-maker Stanley Kubric was. A large part of it is because this particular adaptation was a quite light-hearted take on the story. I'm not sure I agree with this choice, if I were making it I would definitely make it grim and disturbing like its source material, but then at the same time I also fully understand that a grim and disturbing accurate take on the story would almost certainly mean that the film would never be greenlit. Although then again they did make not one, but two Human Centipede films, so you never know...

Anyway, the reason why I mention all of this in this blog is because watching the film made me really think about film adaptations of books, and how I'm not sure they're really ever a good idea (Peter Jackson and the ones that made the Rowling adaptations got lucky). See, part of what makes Lolita such an entertaining and intriguing read is that its all told from the point of view of Humbert Humbert, and his narration constantly tries to convince you, the reader, that he is in fact just an innocent victim and not, in fact, the filthy paedophile that he actually is. But that relies on, well, narration being the primary storytelling element, and that just doesn't work in a film adaptation. Because films are visual based things, and all the narration in the world won't stop there being a visual element of what's going on, which causes the whole idea of the narrator trying to convince you of their point of view. Because if you're seeing what's actually happening then it won't make a difference what you think. Its like seeing someone stab someone to death, then have the murderer tell you they didn't do it and it was all an elaborate attempt to frame them - you know it isn't, because you've just seen them brutally kill the person with your own eyes.

And that's just one example. There are lots of other little neat storytelling tricks and techniques you can do in a book that you just can't do in a film, and more than a few that you can do, but can't do well. And so inevitably when they go off to make a film adaptation of a book, all those little tricks that they can't do in a film get lost in translation, and with them a very important part of what made the story 'good' in the first place. And I think that might be why almost all film adaptations of books are never as good as the books themselves.

Of course, that being said it definitely cuts both ways -  there are plenty of storytelling tricks that you can do in a film (or TV show for that matter) that you can't in a book - sure that epic battle scene might sound pretty cool in the book its in, but seeing rank upon rank of noble warriors crash into the horde of evil, bellowing their war-cries, pennants and banners fluttering in the wind, and hearing the rousing speech the hero gives, and the crashes and crunches and schwings and tinks and pangs of battle, with massive catapult-hurled projectiles raining down in earth-shattering impacts, and brilliantly-rendered monsters getting stuck in left right and centre, with a thrilling orchestral score in the background, all rendered in eye-watering HD (maybe even 3-D) and eardrum-watering THX surround sound is enough to give you goose-bumps. And don't get me started on the eye-candy factor...

Anyway, that's just my twisted ramblings. I could be totally mad.

The next librarything will be on the 14th of August. No, I don't know what will be happening there yet. Maybe another one where we all eat chips...

And that's all for now then. Try not to have a school/tirtiary term that's too soul-crushing.


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Ace Of Clubs

Hi Welcome to the blog of the Mangere Bridge Teen Book Club. We call ourselves Ace of Clubs. We meet once a month, normally on the third Thursday 4.30pm @ Mangere Bridge Library. We talk about books, hang out and have random fun. This blog will tell you what we have been up to, what is coming up and of course lots of stuff about books. All teens are welcome so if you are around come along and join us.