Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Books to movies

Books into movies:
And a not-so-funny thing happened. The books began to change the movies. (André Bazin argued that the Italian neorealist school was really "the cinema of American literature.") And the movies began to change the books.

There was an element of mercy to this. Authors no longer had to lard their chapters with physical description in the manner of a Balzac or a Trollope; the fund of common visual reference bequeathed to us by movies (and later television) meant that we were all, writers and readers, on the same page. Except that the page itself was changing: Text was losing ground to image.

(I wonder how different Middlemarch would be were it written today.)

Bibliophiles fall back on the assurance that books alone can draw us into the human soul. Or, as theorist George Bluestone puts it, a film "can show us characters thinking, feeling, and speaking, but it cannot show us their thoughts and feelings."

Increasingly I find authors are afraid to show us thoughts and feelings, thinking it more clever if we're made to infer them from the characters' actions and words, from the juxtaposition of scenes. But what's wrong with clearly writing about what's inside a person's head? This is precisely why I like authors like, for example, Auster and Saramago and others think they're overrated.

Larry McMurtry:
And finally I'm going to thank all the booksellers of the world. Remember, "Brokeback Mountain" was a book before it was a movie. From the humblest paperback exchange to the masters of the great bookshops of the world. All are contributors to the survival of the culture of the book. A wonderful culture, which we mustn't lose.

We won't lose it, but it will evolve, again, and again.


rachel said...

And yet you don't like first person! Isa, you are inscrutable! ;)

kimbofo said...

You just said the 'M' word when you promised you wouldn't - at least not on this blog anyway! ;)

martha said...

I think books and films show us different things, but both of those things have a place. I can't imagine books going away, or films, but then, everything changes. Who knows how things will go?

Ella said...

I hate it when people talk about 'losing the culture of the book'. Nobody ever moans about 'losing the culture of the television' or 'losing the culture of the Internet'.