Blog in 02 2012.
You might have heard Sean Penn chirping up about the Falkland Islands and Anglo-Argentine relations of late. If you haven’t, it’s been quite funny. The man’s clearly a buffoon.
And now he’s written an article in the Guardian about his views. It’s a good read, if you like unintelligible International Relations essays written by angry students who’ve drunk too much tea.
This is my favourite passage. (And not just because he spelt Argentinean wrong either.)
‘As my statement came to an end, I felt it appropriate to address my personal belief in the necessity for diplomacy to resolve a deeply held Argentinian conviction of ancestry and sovereignty that was being denied an international forum. Given that I was a guest in this country, whose own voice on an intractable UK position had been so nominally heard internationally, it seems to me that the fair respect from a gracious visitor was to comment.’
The rest is peppered with classic moments like that. Prepare to be confused.
Book: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Film: Rebecca, directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Not many directors are as distinctive as Hitchcock, so this his first Hollywood film was always going to step out from the shadow of the (perfectly decent) book. In a good way. Can Daphne Du Maurier have imagined Mrs Danvers was quite so chilling and kinky as Judith Anderson made her? Or that Jack Favell was as magnificently caddish as George Sanders?
Book: Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
Film: Bridget Jones’s Diary, directed by Sharon Maguire
You’d have thought Helen Fielding’s sharp, knowing, laugh-out-loud funny writing would be a gift to any screenwriter. Shame, then, that the people who adapted Bridget Jones’s Diary into a film decided to blunt the edges of the dialogue and ramp up the slapstick. (Not to mention giving poor old Colin Firth the worst pre-kiss line since Andie MacDowell simpered ‘Is it still raining? I hadn’t noticed’ at the end of Four Weddings.)
The end result’s a movie that’s about as funny as being dumped for someone younger and thinner than you, and as subtle as an ample bottom zooming down a fireman’s pole.
I Am Legend: the book (a 1954 horror novel by Richard Matheson)
Trailblazing in its day, this book introduced the concept of human extinction by zombie-like disease (and inspired Romero’s cult classic Night of the Living Dead). (Spoiler alert) Robert Neville’s the last human on earth. Captured by the zombies/vampires who’ve taken over the world, he realises they’re in fact sentient, intelligent beings. He’s the monster with morals that don’t apply anymore: a relic of a bygone age who must die so society can move forward. The book ends with his affecting last words: ‘[I am] a new superstition entering the unassailable fortress of forever. I am legend.’
I Am Legend: the film (a 2007 Will Smith-vehicle)
Robert Neville is the last man on earth. He races around in a sports car, chased by feral vampires. Hang on – he’s not the last man on earth. He finds a cure for the disease and randomly sacrifices himself, becoming (you’ve guessed it) legend. Or not.
This week, all week, we'll be posting blogs about good books that spawned bad films. Or bad books that produced good films. It's all a matter of opinion. First up, it's two different interpretations of Atonement.
Book: Atonement, by Ian McEwan
Film: Atonement, directed by Joe Wright
A film that fancies itself no end, from the close-up of typewriter letters thwacking into paper to that gratuitous long take at Dunkirk. And one that exposes what’s wrong with the book. Why should I care about two people I barely know anything about? Or give the time of day to a narrator who’s an inveterate liar?
Atonement the book wallows in its own postmodern take on storytelling: it’s smug and unsatisfying. Whereas Atonement the film leaves out any academic posturing on the subjectivity of truth. It’s a good old-fashioned story (with a beginning, middle and an end), where the atmospheric surroundings are brought to life. After watching the film, I wanted to re-read the book.