Thursday, August 21, 2008

Coming in Late in the Game...A Century Late

Thanks to a link at Booksquare, I came across Cinema stole my favourite books on the UK Guardian book blog. The subtitle to David Barnett's screed is:
I expended time and imagination to absorb these stories. Why should people be entitled to think they know them without putting in any effort?
He writes:
Can there be anything worse than lovingly engaging with a couple of hundred thousand words of prose over perhaps two or three weeks, drinking in the author's dialogue and descriptions, creating your own vision of the work in the privacy of your head, only to have every man and his dog (special offer on Tuesdays at your local Odeon) blast your intellectual ownership of the book out of the water after spending 90 minutes slobbing out in front of a cinema screen?
First of all, for someone who (apparently) makes his living by writing about books, Barnett is an awfully slow reader. Two to three weeks to read just one book?

Second, he's weighing in late, by about 100 years. The first film version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was made in 1912, and viewers only had to slob out for 12 minutes. L. Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and sequels, adapted the series to film in 1908 and 1914. Greta Garbo starred in Anna Karenina in 1935; the film is #42 in the American Film Institute's 100 Years...100 Passions list of top love stories in American cinema.

Third, if Barnett thinks movie adaptations of books are so dumb (he cites "The Watchmen" as a major offender), why doesn't he just, you know, stay home and read?


Christine Fletcher said...

How does making a movie out of a book "blast your intellectual ownership out of the water"?

He still "owns" his experience with the book. Unless the movie theater dosed his soda with some kind of amnesiac drug.

Bella Stander said...

Good point, Christine! I quoted your 2nd graf in a comment on Barnett's blog.