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I prefer...

  • ...generally films to books
    1 (16.7%)
  • ...generally books to films
    4 (66.7%)
  • ...generally beer and then we'll see whatever else you may've got there
    1 (16.7%)

Total Members Voted: 6

Topic: Films and Books (Read 5941 times)

  • ersi
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Films and Books
Sometimes they make both a book and a film out of the same story, such as all Michael Crichton or all Stephen King...

This thread is to share and discuss literature and cinematography as art forms and personal passion, not as mere entertainment. List your favourites and discuss :)


MY BOOKS TOP 5

Mika Waltari, Sinuhe
Milan Kundera, Immortality
W.S.Maugham, Of Human Bondage
Ghazali, Niche of Lights
Vidyaranya, Panchadasi


MY FILMS TOP 5

Miyazaki, Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi
Chaplin, City Lights
Kromanov, Põrgupõhja uus vanapagan (1964)
Nair, Salaam Bombay
Petersen, Das Boot (1981 original, not the lengthened director's cut)


COMMENTS

In my list, the books Sinuhe and Of Human Bondage have made it to film. I have seen the films Sinuhe by Michael Curtiz, 1954, and the British Of Human Bondage from 1934. While re-written well into self-contained films, they are necessarily limited compared to the books. The novels are true epics and cannot be properly transferred to film (unless one is ready for lengthy soap-operatic TV series).

Among films in my list, I have heard that Das Boot was originally a novel, but I haven't read it. Põrgupõhja uus vanapagan is a novella by the most celebrated Estonian author Tammsaare, based on Estonian folk tales. The film version is by one of the very few Estonian directors who is worth to be called a director at all. Estonian cinematography in general never was worth watching, but Kromanov almost has a touch of Ingmar Bergman. Estonian writers are generally recommendable though.

  • Frenzie
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Re: Films and Books
Reply #1
Some Stephen King movie adaptations are really quite good, such as Stand By Me (The Body), Apt Pupil, and Secret Window. I hear The Shawshank Redemption is good as well, but I've only read the novella.

I'm not entirely sure what "mere entertainment" is. Certainly Stephen King could be subjected to literary analysis, although I have my doubts about Chrichton. Perhaps mere entertainment is the reason I don't have a TV. :)

  • ersi
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Re: Films and Books
Reply #2
Among Stephen King stuff, I overwhelmingly prefer Misery. Shawshank the movie is non-different from the French Le comte de Monte Cristo (1961) which I am very familiar with. Both are decent productions, but the dramatic points of suspense are utterly predictable and the films mirror each other perfectly in dramatic essence. Shawshank looks like a copy.

Another film I intensely like cinematographically is Kubrick's The Shining, but I have heard Stephen King himself wasn't too fond of this one. I read somewhere that in King's book there were tons of well-elaborated creepy ghost characters, but Kubrick dropped them all and only left humans. I happen to prefer the way Kubrick did it. I can clearly see how Kubrick displays the human characters as puppets pulled around by their own subconscious motives until only shadows and wrecks are left, and this definitely works better for me than actual ghosts and fairies in the walls of the house.

  • Macallan
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Re: Films and Books
Reply #3
Any book that can be turned into a 90 minute movie without losing much probably isn't worth it :right:

That said, most books I like tend to be unfilmable ( in my opinion at least ) anyway - things like Eco's Focault's Pendulum or The Prague Cemetery - you'd end up with 5 or so 3h monstrosities, each,  that would be incomprehensible unless watched in order and in quick succession. And even then, it's still Eco :left:

  • Frenzie
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Re: Films and Books
Reply #4
Among Stephen King stuff, I overwhelmingly prefer Misery.

Oh, that's a good one. But in that case you might want to check out some of the Bachman books.

Shawshank looks like a copy.

I didn't have a Monte Cristo déjà vu while reading the novella -- Tolstoy, on the other hand... ;) For that matter, I have no idea how true that 1961 movie was to the novel either.

I read somewhere that in King's book there were tons of well-elaborated creepy ghost characters, but Kubrick dropped them all and only left humans.

That sounds like nonsense to me. Kubrick kept most of the manifestations and whether you interpret them as Jack's own madness or as actual ghosts is up to the reader/viewer either way. I actually thought the movie was more susceptible to a ghostly interpretation because of the changes made to the Grady character as well as stuff like windows magically moving around, on top of mostly ignoring the effects of Jack's destructive alcoholism. Then again, in both the book and the movie Grady is the one who lets Jack out of that pantry. In both cases you could dismiss that as yet more unreliable narration, but one wonders how Jack managed to get out if he only imagined Grady.


Any book that can be turned into a 90 minute movie without losing much probably isn't worth it :right:

That said, most books I like tend to be unfilmable ( in my opinion at least ) anyway - things like Eco's Focault's Pendulum or The Prague Cemetery - you'd end up with 5 or so 3h monstrosities, each,  that would be incomprehensible unless watched in order and in quick succession. And even then, it's still Eco :left:

That's why the King movie adaptations I mentioned are based on short novellas of no more than a hundred pages.

  • ersi
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Re: Films and Books
Reply #5
Umberto Eco is quite lively, but I've been most impressed by Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities, an essentially non-narrative allegory. Unfilmable text animates imagination most effectively.

  • tt92
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Re: Films and Books
Reply #6
Who would have thought that "The French Lieutenant's Woman" was filmable.

  • Belfrager
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Re: Films and Books
Reply #7
I think that one of the most difficult books to film was Patrick Suskind's Das Parfum.
It was done and the film was not too much bad but at an infinite distance from the book's quality.

In a book "a beautiful woman" is each reader's idea, the mental representation each reader has about what is a beautiful woman.
In a movie it's that particular woman and nothing else.
Some goes with all the rest, there's no way a movie to be better than a good book.

But there are many more things to watch in a movie than how it reproduced some book story/argument.
A matter of attitude.

  • ersi
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Re: Films and Books
Reply #8

I think that one of the most difficult books to film was Patrick Suskind's Das Parfum.
It was done and the film was not too much bad but at an infinite distance from the book's quality.

In a book "a beautiful woman" is each reader's idea, the mental representation each reader has about what is a beautiful woman.
In a movie it's that particular woman and nothing else.

Was the book more about the perfume or about the beautiful woman? :) (I have neither seen the film or read the book.)

  • Belfrager
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Re: Films and Books
Reply #9
Was the book more about the perfume or about the beautiful woman?  :)  (I have neither seen the film or read the book.)

About capturing the perfume of beauty, the perfume of a beautiful woman.
It's an astonishing book that describes odor as never before making the reader actually smell it.
A matter of attitude.

  • ersi
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Re: Films and Books
Reply #10

It's an astonishing book that describes odor as never before making the reader actually smell it.

I hope this is not the only idea of the book. I look for many things in books. I want to see something distinctive and unique, even though usually I end up finding similarities with what I am already familiar with. At the same time I think about what is not being said and I think how it fits with what is being said. In short, I want to see a complete universe, nothing less. Some books manage to outline a universe in a small page count, even though I am not afraid of multi-tome epics either.

Films, on the other hand, should be properly captivating, visually and story-wise. Film moves at its own pace, there's no turning back pages when watching a film (well, there is rewind, but if I am forced to use it, it's either not a good film or there's no good environment for watching). Films represent thinking and feeling done for the viewer, whereas with books there's always the opportunity to think things through from many angles. Of course there are literary genres that get totally ruined when approached too analytically, e.g. crime or adventure, but these are very film-like and this is precisely my point.

Maybe I should have included theatre too in the title? Has anyone here been to theatre this century?

  • ersi
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Re: Films and Books
Reply #11
The last year was better than ever for Estonian film. I am only mentioning the most prominent one: Tangerines, a both Golden Globe and Oscar nominee this year. These nominations have never happened to an Estonian film before.

The film is a collaboration with Georgia (as in Gruzia, Sakhartvelo). The director is Georgian. The lead actor is Estonian. The language is mostly Russian.

The story is about an Estonian village in Abkhazia during the war of Abkhazia, a conflict between Georgia and Russia during the breakup of the Soviet Union. The themes are loyalty, morale, and ethnic pride in an armed conflict, and doing the right thing while being caught in between.

My verdict: The themes are very well developed in the script (dialogue-wise) and sensibly enough paced in the film. I would have preferred better coordinated choreography in staging the critical battle. Gives you some nice scenes of the country, if you dig the paysage genre, along with a hint of the essence of humanity in general.

The film was made cheaply, just to get the script enacted at whatever cost because everybody involved was convinced it was brilliant. Unexpectedly it has become a commercial success too. All in all a good watch, though nothing too original.

  • jax
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Re: Films and Books
Reply #12
I will have a look for it. And yes, the Estonian minority in Abkhazia was news to me, that a century ago 1% of the population was Estonian. Interesting.

  • ersi
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Re: Films and Books
Reply #13
Surely you knew that Russia was an actual empire. Even Norway still retains some possessions that qualify as colonies, such as Finnmark and Svalbard. With Russia, similarly, there's a heartland, and then there are possessions with different indigenous ethnicities, different climates, and different laws to provide either a sense of autonomy to the locals or incentive to people to populate sparsely inhabited areas. Different degrees of autonomy were enacted in e.g. Czarist Finland, Baltic countries, and Tatarstan, while there were at various times incentives declared to move to Siberia and some areas of Caucasus, including Abkhazia. That's how the Estonian villages cropped up in Abkhazia.

For a literary geopolitical overview of Czarist Russia perhaps Jaan Kross' Keisri hull (The Czar's Madman) is worth reading. As I earlier said in this thread, Estonian writers are generally worth reading. Kross happens to be one of whom nobody says a bad word, a writer known best for epic well-researched historical novels.

  • Emdek
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  • Otter
Re: Films and Books
Reply #14
@jax, in Soviet Russia the government decides where you want to live.
Sad but true, and as noted by ersi it was not a novum, but continuation of previous methods for repressing subjects (related).

On topic, some of my favorite books:


I also like some other books written by Lem and Zajdel (all of them, although best ones have common leitmotif) and other authors of that genre, I've added Under the Dome more like filler, to have five entries with unique authors. ;-)
Nadszedł już czas, najwyższy czas, nienawiść zniszczyć w sobie.
The time has come, the high time, to destroy hatred in oneself.

  • ersi
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Re: Films and Books
Reply #15
On Czarist Russia, I can also warmly recommend Chaadaev's A Journey from St. Peterburg to Moscow, which I have read. It's a travel-book with plenty of humanist critical sociopolitical commentary. This book was banned in Czarist Russia. Another interesting work about Russia that I have unfortunately not read is Zamyatin's We, an anti-Bolshevist dystopia, a precursor of both Brave New World and 1984. Naturally, Zamyatin was also banned, published in Soviet Union only in 1988.

Censorship is something weirdly dear to Russian administration of any era. They cannot live without it even now.

Chaadaev is an interesting figure. While he was routinely cited in Soviet Union as a critic of the Czarist regime (which is true), having read him, I noticed something more. He is a visionary fatalist who observes that Russia has a mere reactionary role in the world. Russia is forever doomed to backwardness in comparison with other nations. Attempts to emulate and achieve a greatness similar to other nations will always either fall short or miss the mark. At failures and dissatisfying incomplete successes, Russians indulge in wallowing in self-pity and finger-pointing. The positive role Russia has in the world is to serve as an example what not to be like.

Pretty harsh view about one's own nation, isn't it?

  • string
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Re: Films and Books
Reply #16
I've travelled from Moscow to St Petersberg (by train) but not the other way round - a story in itself that one.

Anyway the reason to reply to your note is to defend the Russians in what I thought an endearing aspect which is to be able to laugh at themselves. When I first went there it was at the time when depreciation of the rouble was at its worse, the rouble being significantly less at the end of a 4 day trip than at the beginning, and  when paying in US Dollars was more or less the norm for a foreign visitor and $20, for example,  would buy you the most wonderful meal with all the food and drink you could sensibly consume.  Also at that time it was so sad to see lines of people standing at the side of roads trying to sell their second-hand clothes, all the more so because those people were clearly the middle class whose financial world had collapsed and had previously been used to relatively better times.

In all of that, the humour I encountered amongst the Russians I worked with was normally about (topically) queues, scarcity of items in shops, and in fact the things which most of us would not really joke about in front of foreigners.

I'm sorry to see their world collapsing again.

  • ersi
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Re: Films and Books
Reply #17
Looks like there was recommendation of sorts of 13th Warrior, a movie that I let pass by around the time of its release. Now I saw it and, eww, what a load of garbage. On every level. Not only is it plotless and pointless, it doesn't even momentarily provide anything to look at, a pretty landscape, anything culturally insightful or at least correct about Vikings. Nothing at all. You can only like it if you like to see battles (very poorly coordinated in this film) or laugh at silly manners and beliefs of ancient times (all details of which are grossly false in this film, perhaps deliberately, to no artistic effect).

Some amazing features of the film include:

  • No character development whatsoever

  • The main character is totally irrelevant to the plot, but this doesn't matter, because there's no plot development either, just battles and threat of battles at regular intervals

  • Vikings live next to Neanderthals

  • Neanderthals have superior numbers, superior culture (advanced religion with elaborate system of sacrifices) and superior strategy (horses for war, while Vikings only have horses for transport), but they get annihilated anyway

  • There are feeble hints to the Beowulf myth (the Viking leader's name sounds approximately like Beowulf, the Neanderthal cavalry looks like a dragon from afar), but this is irrelevant too, because there is no occasion for any of the themes that the myth is about, so no real connection



13th Warrior is not just a film, but apparently also a book by Michael Crichton, which makes it topical to this thread. Michael Crichton is in good terms with the film industry. Every novel of his gets consistently filmatised in a big way, by a big studio, with some big star actors and directors involved. IMDB presents around hundred projects with his involvement. In the cinema arena, but only Jurassic Park looks like a notable achievement among those.

EDIT: For a decisively better handling of Nordic-Arab contact, I recommend Mika Waltari's Mikael Hakim, a novel about a medieval Finnish character wandering around in Ottoman/Arab lands, making observations and stumbling upon adventures.
  • Last Edit: 2015-03-28, 14:39:30 by ersi

  • Belfrager
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Re: Films and Books
Reply #18
Looks like there was recommendation of sorts of 13th Warrior

Yes, an absolutely adequate film to the average poster, it shows them well what it is supposed to show, never to be considered as some seventh art's masterpiece.
Anyway, applying your criteria, I'm afraid you have to refrain yourself from watching 99,5% of Hollywood movies... :)
A matter of attitude.

  • ersi
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Re: Films and Books
Reply #19

Looks like there was recommendation of sorts of 13th Warrior

Yes, an absolutely adequate film to the average poster, it shows them well what it is supposed to show, never to be considered as some seventh art's masterpiece.

What was it supposed to show, in your opinion? For me it didn't work even as a parody of anything. Parodies are supposed to be funny to some extent. This one wasn't funny to any extent.


Anyway, applying your criteria, I'm afraid you have to refrain yourself from watching 99,5% of Hollywood movies... :)

It's about this much I haven't seen, yes. Ever since Independence Day I am deliberately (and pretty successfully) avoiding movies, particularly modern ones. I only occasionally seek out golden oldies.

  • Belfrager
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Re: Films and Books
Reply #20
What was it supposed to show, in your opinion?

One civilized man amongst barbarians. It could show it better, but what can one expect from barbarian movies...
As an American production, the objective is to level by the lowest possible level, so at the end they all get very friendly.
A matter of attitude.

  • ersi
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Re: Films and Books
Reply #21

As an American production, the objective is to level by the lowest possible level, so at the end they all get very friendly.

If it were so simple that the objective was to dumb everybody down to the lowest common denominator, they should all have become Neanderthals, but instead they slaughtered the Neanderthals. For that particular movie, I think the only aim was to make a movie because Michael Crichton had written a book and Michael Crichton's books are always made into movies.

  • jax
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Re: Films and Books
Reply #22
Looks like there was recommendation of sorts of 13th Warrior, a movie that I let pass by around the time of its release. Now I saw it and, eww, what a load of garbage. On every level. Not only is it plotless and pointless, it doesn't even momentarily provide anything to look at, a pretty landscape, anything culturally insightful or at least correct about Vikings. Nothing at all. You can only like it if you like to see battles (very poorly coordinated in this film) or laugh at silly manners and beliefs of ancient times (all details of which are grossly false in this film, perhaps deliberately, to no artistic effect).

The irony is that Crichton set out to disprove the claim that Beowulf is fundamentally dull, as the plot is (spoiler alert!) hero kills monster, hero kills monster's mother, hero becomes king and ultimately kills and is killed by a dragon. This incidentally is an inversion of the traditional Hollywood arc where the hero ultimately triumphs through adversity.

Retelling Beowulf seems a particular exercise, 13th Warrior is, if anything less weird than average. It has Vikings and Arabs (an anachronism, Vikings are later than Beowulf), even the "Neandertal" has a background. It was popular for a while to "naturalise" trolls, that trolls were folk memories of meeting Neandertals. Unrelated, in Dance of the Tiger Neandertals were called "white trolls" by some of our dark-skinned, slightly built, ancestors. A few years ago Beowulf was retold with Vikings, space travellers, and space aliens. Otherwise, since the 60's it has been popular to reimagine Beowulf from the viewpoint of Grendel.

Vikings have fared little better, including the current underwhelming Vikings TV drama. My favourite is When the Raven Flies, as an Icelandic Western/Samurai thriller setting works fine.

For Jaybro's viewing pleasure Angelina Jolie in her favourite role as monster mother,


  • Belfrager
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Re: Films and Books
Reply #23
they should all have become Neanderthals, but instead they slaughtered the Neanderthals.

I don't know why you are constantly mentioning Neanderthals.
A matter of attitude.

  • ersi
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Re: Films and Books
Reply #24

they should all have become Neanderthals, but instead they slaughtered the Neanderthals.

I don't know why you are constantly mentioning Neanderthals.

You saw 13th Warrior without noticing Neanderthals?