It’s going to be a good year for movies.
If you’ve read any of my previous blogs and columns, I’m sure you know I’m a bit of an enthusiast. It’s been a tradition in my family since I can remember and movies have always been my escape and my comfort during bad times.
Well, that and books. And that is exactly why I’m excited about this year in movies.
Last year, “The Rum Diary” finally came to theatres after years of being “in the works” and I was fit to be tied when the end result, after so long waiting eagerly for the adaptation, was completely and utterly unsatisfactory.
I love “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” The movie was exactly what I pictured while reading the book even if a few things had been changed, and I still pop it in every now and then, especially if someone mentions they have never had the pleasure.
“The Rum Diary,” on the other hand, was a mockery of its epic inspiration. I really felt that it tried too hard to be another “Fear and Loathing” and anyone who’s read the book knows that it has a completely different feel. Not to mention Depp completely wrote out one of the main characters and some of the most memorable scenes.
Now, there are three books that I have read more times than I can count: “The Rum Diary,” “On the Road,” and “The Great Gatsby.”
In 2012, I will have the opportunity to see the two on that list on the big screen.
First, there’s “On the Road.” Jack Kerouac wrote this book in three weeks almost immediately following the adventures represented in its pages, so it’s not surprising no one has jumped at trying to adapt it for audiences. It’s bawdy, belligerent and quite often falls into pure train of thought.
However, the themes present in the book - the search for “it,” the crazed youth seeking adventure, love and friendship and the disillusionment that often follows - are making a comeback in this day and age when everyone’s trying to figure out what defines us.
I think I can even look past Kristen Stewart as Marylou, primarily because I think it will be easier for her to play a drug-addled, ahem, promiscuous woman than the innocent teen she’s been trying to force for the last four years.
More importantly, if you haven’t seen the preview for “The Great Gatsby,” stop reading this for a minute and jump on a computer: it’s amazing.
I’ve always appreciated Baz Lurhmann’s work ( “Moulin Rouge” is in my top five movies of all time) and I’m interested to see what he’ll do with this next endeavour. He’s already adapted one piece of writing - “Romeo + Juliet” ) in which he presented a modern interpretation while using the original dialogue.
With “The Great Gatsby,” he has an entirely different challenge, and already critics have jumped at the chance to ridicule the preview.
The biggest criticism comes from the music driving the ad. There are two songs used: “No Church in the Wild” by Kanye West and Jay-Z, and a cover of Bono’s by Jack White of the White Stripes.
Most comments I’ve seen on the good old interwebs have come from die-hard fans of the book and go something like this:
“OMG, I love this book and it takes place in the Jazz age and there’s no Jazz and there’s auto tune and they’re just trying to sell tickets and get a younger crowd to pay for it by putting in rappers and it’s ruining my book and blah blah blah ...”
Well, you know what? I hate to break it to you people of the internet but, yes, they are trying to sell tickets. They’re trying to make money, just like the rest of us, and if using modern music and that darn autotuning gets the younger generation to spend $10 on an adaptation of one of the greatest books ever written instead of the latest - and thankfully last - “Twilight” installment, I say good on ya, sirs!
However, that isn’t even my biggest problem with this particular criticism.
Reading a novel is a deeply personal experience and, more often than not, the author doesn’t provide a track-list in the footnotes. Times change, people change, but the themes and the characters stay the same. If it takes an updated soundtrack to get across the raw emotion of the novel, then so be it.
Personally, I had tingles throughout the entire preview. Although the songs weren’t period representations, the emotion that they evoked were perfect and an hour hasn’t gone by today that I haven’t replayed the preview in my mind (I’ve also watched the preview five times on YouTube, um, hold on one second, I’ll be right back .... OK, make that six times).
Everyone has a right to their own interpretation, that’s the joy of art in every medium, and everyone has a right to make a prediction.
But, anyone who refuses to see this movie because they’re mad that the music isn’t to their liking, or any movie for that matter, you’re missing out because of your inane prejudice. And if you discourage someone from seeing it who maybe hasn’t read the book, you’re doing a great disservice to that person.
Because, who knows? Maybe seeing this movie will get them to read the book and have that same joy we had our first, second or third times through. That person might even be turned on to the joys of reading just because a movie showed them the possibilities.
So before you pass judgement on a film based on what you view as the “right” way to adapt a novel, I would encourage you to pick up “The Great Gatsby” once again and take another look at the final paragraph, re-think its meaning, and remember:
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
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