So, how was Crhistmas and the New Year for you? Ate too much? Drank too much? Watched far too many old movies on TV? So did I – or at least, I ate and drank far too much. Still, as Meatloaf said, two out of three ain´t bad…. What I didn´t do was watch a lot of television, particularly not movies.
It´s one of the major argument provokers in our house. My husband is not the world´s most discriminate of viewers. In fact, he watches anything. I, on the other hand, am extremely fussy about what goes into my brain. These days I find I have to be; if something goes in, it invariably pushes something else out, and you never know what you might need. For instance, I used to speak quite a lot of French. Since we moved to Spain, I´ve worked at learning at least enough Spanish to get by, but the French has vanished. Must be my age.
Which brings me back to the question of movies. Apart from being extremely intolerant of rubbish, I can very rarely be persuaded to watch something that I have read. If pushed to do so, it invariably leads to huge upsets. Within five minutes, I´m sneering at the characterization. A little further in, I start making noises about how the plot is developing. Without meaning to (of course!) I tend to point out that the construction of the plot is all wrong, but in any event the ending is going to be …. Ooops, there´s another film spoiled! Or so my husband tells me.
So generally, I do try to stay clear of any movie where I have read the book. They are invariably either a disappointment or an annoyance or both. Even – or perhaps I should say, particularly – authors I like and admire come under this category. To my mind, Stephen King in particular never converts well to the screen. In fact, over the course of many years there are only two books that I can think of that were better in the flesh than on the page. Surprisingly, “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” is one of them. The novella was fine, not something that was ever going to be a consistent re-read for me, but perfectly OK. The film was wonderful. The other one was “The Wicker Man”, in both of its incarnations (although I do rather wish Nicolas Cage hadn´t bothered with the re-make. It was OK, but still a pale shadow of the original).
I´ve promised myself that I would read the novel “The Wicker Man” was based on for years, and over Christmas took the trouble to source it. I was bitterly disappointed. “The Ritual” just wasn´t what I had expected. To begin with, it was crammed with typos. Oh, I know. They creep past the most rigorous edit, but here they were unforgivable; could you really miss the fact that you had spelled one of the main characters name´s as “Gully” in the opening pages, when in the rest of the novel she was called “Gilly”? None of it really hung together, it felt as if it was a first – or to be charitable, second – draft. Certainly not a finished work. The characters were scrubby , the action just didn´t make sense.
Drat, drat and double drat.
Still, I shall persevere. I´ve seen the film of “The Bone Collector” and also saw an interview with the writer over Christmas. I didn´t believe in the film, but I did connect with what the author was saying about the writing process. I may, I think, buy a couple of the novels. Should make for an interesting evening next time the film is re-run….