Tuesday 24 April 2007

A Little More Electronic

What, I hear you cry, this picture is of non-books. It's not even of Nature. What's going on? Well, I'm afraid today's blog entry has catapaulted itself into the late-twentieth century (let's not get ahead of ourselves) and is going to address Digitally Viewable Doodahs. Ok, I don't know what DVD stands for, but it might as well be that.

Take a closer look at the DVDs. Can you spot a theme? A theme which supports my claim to be stuck-in-a-book?

Yep, you're righ
t - they're all adaptations of books, or biopics of authors. Or both. Oddly, though I have some scruples about adaptations (yes, I am a purist - it's just called standards, honest), it is these films to which I return time and again. Perhaps because the plots/characters will come from people who genuinely prize writing? I know absurdly little about the goings-on of scriptwriters in Hollywood, and what I do know has been gleaned from PG Wodehouse and Stephen Leacock, neither of whom are renowned for their strict veracity. Still, I can't help thinking the endings to some of these films would have been different, had they started life in a scriptwriter's office.

In case the photograph is too small, here's a list of those featured:
The Hours - had mixed reviews, but it's probably my favouri
te film. Perhaps not an entirely reliable depiction of Woolf, but Kidman's role is far from the only focus of this film. An astonishingly good cast.
84 Charing Cross Road - I know Janice has been writing about Helene Hanff - and this film is so RIGHT for the book; it has the same atmosphere. Cosy, bookish, gentle, wonderful.
The Secret Garden
- (see pic) the first film I ever saw in the cinema, on my 7th birthday. Still love it, and brings back so many childhood memories.
Pride and Prejudice - the 1995 BBC version, none of your 2005 film nonsense. Davies writes a wonderful
script, with the sadly novel idea of using Austen's dialogue. If only more adaptors would pay heed. Jennifer Ehle IS Lizzie.
Possession - speaking of Jennifer Ehle... This adaptation is AS Byatt's novel is probably a little lowbrow compared to the tome itself, but, do you know, I coped with that.
The Camomile Lawn - more Jennifer Ehle, but as you've never seen her before... and the most mismatched hair/eyebrows combination in film history.
I Capture the Castle - (see pic) a beautiful film which made me fall in love with the novel all over again - another one of my favourites, though it did omit one of my favourite lines: "Noble deeds and hot baths are the best cure for depression."
The Shipping Forecast - *hangs head in shame* I
haven't read the book... but strange film.
Finding Neverland - not an adaptation, but a biopic of JM Barrie. Again, not always accurate, but great fun and extremely moving.
Rebecca - Hitchcock's iconic production does everything one could want from an adaptation. And it's in black and white, so makes me feel clever.
Sylvia - another biopic, which doesn't delve particularly subtly into t
he Ted/Sylvia relationship, and wasn't allowed to quote her poetry, but does feature the cutest child ever, as Frieda.
Harry Potter x 3 - more good fun, and so many stars in the cast that it's practically a galaxy. If only Daniel Radcliffe could ACT...
My House in Umbria - Maggie Smith is wonderful in this adaptation of a novel by William Trevor, which I hadn't heard of, let alone read.
The Chronicles of Narnia - (see pic, ahem) I grew up watching these, and won't hear a word against them. The beavers are REAL, ok? Beavers are seven foot tall, I'm sure. And the White Witch was terrifying.
Carrington - haven't seen this yet... but the 18 rating is putting me off...
Not in picture:

Also have Iris, a brilliant turn by Judi Dench as Iris Murdoch, and Brief Encounter, from Coward's play 'Still Life', but they're not here at present...


  1. Agree with you about Narnia, the fish the Beavers catch is my favorite meal in literature. Do see Carrington. Believe it or not, it was the first screenplay I read at the start of my story analysis career, way back in 1972. I mmistakenly thought all screenplays would be that good! Was I ever disappointed. But I think you'll like the film.

  2. I loved Carrington & from what I had read (Dora Carrington's diaries & Frances Partridge's)it was fairly accurate. Marvellous acting & photography. You must watch it NOW!!

  3. Surely mention of Dame J is reason enough to bring on that photo we all know and love, the one of you and your best mate Dame J?

  4. Ah, but having fooled everyone that I look like the picture in the top left, I don't want to disabuse people...

  5. Yes I must add my voice to the crowd and say do see Carrington -- it is a great film and the dialogue uses many of the real words of Strachey and Carrington. I've recently blogged about Oscar and Lucinda -- I thought that was a very good one, and though the ending was somewhat changed I felt it still worked extremely well.

  6. Simon - do get hold of a film called The Dead. It is newly out on DVD and is based on one of Joyce's stories in the Dubliners. I just KNOW you will love it, it is right up your street. I have blogged about it if you do a search on Random J. Elaine

  7. Dear Simon,

    I'm working on a typology of the Austen films for publication, and enjoying myself mightily. I've been writing about adaptatoins on my blog: Ellen and Jim have a blog, too!

    I like your choices and see we are on a wave length.

    I'd like to qualify something you said: you imply the 1995 _P&P_ was almost unique or novel for following Austen's language. Not so. If you really value the 1995 _P&P_ for closely following Austen's language, you might prefer the 1979 _P&P_ -- available in the US nowadays on a DVD (it comes in a packaged set).

    Weldon really used Austen's language and it comes trippingly off the tongues of all the actors and actresses. Elizabeth Garvie is perfect as Elizabeth Bennet in my view, and the casting for the other parts and subtle acting is very effective. Some is on location too.

    In fact, Davies was much influenced by Weldon's script.

    Ellen Moody

  8. Carrington is certainly worth reading, although perhaps the satirical references to proto-constructionism are a little too under-developed.

  9. In the Weldon adaptation Fay W gave Mr Bennett's line to Mary 'my dear you have entertained us enough' to MRS Bennett. Enough said I think

  10. There was a movie called A Bear Named Winnie that was based on the true story of a Canadian soldier, enroute to World War I from Winnipeg, who adopts an orphaned bear cub at White River Ontario. It is named Winnie (for Winnipeg) and eventually ends up at the London Zoo where it became the inspiration for A.A.Milne's Winnie The Pooh stories

  11. Simon I do hope you're doing some revising and not watching TV all day long...am I sounding like your mother:-)
    I must do more "watching"...if only I didn't have to ring up a child to tell me how to get the DVD working.

  12. Drat...dovegreyknitter again!

  13. Love your choice of movies! I don't like watching the Harry Potter movies though, due to the horrendous acting (only liked Ron Weasley's character but he can be annoying at times). As for Secret Garden, it's fantastic. I've yet to watch the others...will check them out on ebay. :)


I've now moved to www.stuckinabook.com, and all my old posts are over there too - do come and say hello :)

I probably won't see your comment here, I'm afraid, but all my archive posts can also be found at www.stuckinabook.com.