A Splendiferous Movie/Based on a Great Book/That Is Actually BETTER than the Novel!

sorabji.com: Reasons to be cheerful: A Splendiferous Movie/Based on a Great Book/That Is Actually BETTER than the Novel!

By R.C. on Thursday, April 15, 1999 - 03:01 am:

    "The English Patient" -- the book & the movie.

    I saw it when it first came out in 1996. Acutally went to a theatre & laid my $$ down & sat there in that cool, dark room/surrounded by strangers /& allowed myself to share in the common experience of being swept up in a story along with a bunch of people I didn't know/& listening to the various sniffles at certain very poignant points during the film/& the final collective sigh of release after the final frame/like the sound in a church after the final 'Amen' signaling the end of a prayer. And the rustling of tissues being dug out from pockets & purses & handkerchiefs being offered as the credits rolled & everyone just sat there/emotionally spent & deeply enriched by everything we had see transpire on that 40 ft. screen. And for the 1st time in a long time/I felt again what it was to be part of a world/to have shared an intimacy w/other people that did not require explaining.

    Yesterday nite/I rented the movie & watched it again alone. And picked up on a hundred little nuances I missed the 1st time... The allusion to a homosexual realtionship btwn the young Bedouin & one of the English explorers. The way Katherine practically threw herself at that mysterious Count from the moment she met him/how she flirted w/him constantly & imposed her presence on him every chance she got. How I shd've suspected from the 1st that Katherine & her husband were working for the British gov't. (Nobody but royalty had their own planes in those times).

    And today I went to the library & got the novel. And was shocked to see how much the movie deviated from it. But in the best ways possible. That marvelous scene in the film/my favorite scene/where Kip (the Sikh landmine-hunter) leaves a trail of tiny lanterns for Hana (the nurse)/then takes her to that bombed-out church & rigs up a harness for her & lights the flare & hoists her up to see the frescos at the top of the walls. In the novel/Kip performed that dazzling bit of charity for an old English archaeologist/one of a group recruited during the war effort to identify ancient ruins that might be suitably adapted as barracks or weapons depots or hospitals for the troops. It was also an act of charity in the novel/but for different reasons/& insignificant to the story as a whole. A throw-away scene in the book/vs. the breathtaking romantic declaration of that scene btwn Hanna & Kip in the movie. But how incredibly effective that one little change was/the substitution of one character for another in precisely the same scene (save for the addtition of the lanterns).

    That is what good screenplay adaptations are all abt. Not being true to the letter of the book/& not constructing whole scenes out of nowhere for the movie. But remaining true to the spirit of the novel/rearranging characters & motives & dialogue here & there/in ways that the author himself cd certainly have invented/if he'd been thinking in terms of film rather than literature.

    This book is one of the most lyrical & beautiful novels I have ever read. Read it for yrself. And watch the movie -- it is absolutely dazzling! War movies bore me (except for "The Deer Hunter" & "Apocalypse Now")/but it is not a film abt war. It is a film abt the persistence of memory/& how love can unexpectedly save us even from the ravages of war & death. Some nite when you're depsondent abt romantic love & it's endless limitations/watch this movie. It will inspire you & renew yr hope in movies/& the power they have to magnify the human experience & make us reinvent our dreams.

By Gee on Thursday, April 15, 1999 - 06:01 am:

    hmm. The person who wrote that book teaches at my school.

By Wow on Thursday, April 15, 1999 - 12:00 pm:

    York U in Toronto? For some reason, I thought you were English.

By Gee on Friday, April 16, 1999 - 03:49 am:

    Well...that's not as bad as being labeled an American, at least. =o)

By Wow on Friday, April 16, 1999 - 09:51 am:

    I thought you were English because your posts, as near as I could remember, seemed to be in the wee hours of the A.M., so I just thought you were working in GMT.

    That's all.


By Gee on Saturday, April 17, 1999 - 03:54 am:


    One little american put-down and I get a "geez"?


By Wow on Saturday, April 17, 1999 - 09:27 am:

    It wasn't about american put-downs. I just thought you were mad because I didn't know you were Canadian.


By Gee on Sunday, April 18, 1999 - 04:50 am:

    Couldn't you tell from the mountie in my closet?

    His name is Benton.

By Wow on Sunday, April 18, 1999 - 08:01 am:

    I wondered where that was coming from:

    "When I'm calling yooou ooo-ooo-ooo



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