Wednesday, 27 July 2011

You Can't Beat a Good Read. Usually.


Do you prefer the spoken or written word when it comes to entertainment?

I’ve been a little single minded in the past when it comes to reading versus the silver screen or telly box. Greeting TV or film re-enactments of favourite books with a resounding ‘Pish!’, Think Steig Larrson’s words trounced upon when Lisbeth Salander came to life in movie form. But I’ve seen several instalments lately that have made me question my flippancy.

My usual reaction when someone recommends a film or TV show is ‘Oh, have you read the book?’, when Sky Atlantic showed the first episode of Game of Thrones, an adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice & Fire series, my kindle couldn’t download them fast enough for me. Cue inhalation of 4 x 1000+ page books. Granted that didn’t stop me watching the series, nor waiting with bated breath to see casting decisions or Producers’ renditions of George’s stellar tales & characters in series 2.

That wasn’t the first instance though, when True Blood started from episode 1 I was hooked. I read every word of Charlaine Harris’ books before the series was even halfway through. Now well into series 4 online I have to hand it to Alan Ball. While he has stayed true to the book, his character departures and visual mastery (Oh, Lord the visual mastery) have set his rendition on a par with if not better than the preceding books.

I have only once seen a film that, in my opinion, far outclassed the novel. Limitless starring Bradley Ridey* Cooper was based on an Irish Author Alan Glynn’s Dark Fields. Had I read the novel first I might be of another opinion, I’d also like to think that it wasn’t just the visuals that swayed my favour to the silver screen adaptation but the movie far outweighed the book. Start to finish. So it can be done.

There are of course examples of talent that transcend all media, take my favourite Director/Author/Producer/Genius Guierllmo del Toro. Pan’s Labyrinth, la Orfanato, Hellboy & even Blade. Beautiful, scaredy and just awesome. His book, The Strain, is the only book that truly terrified me. An amazingly engrossing and frightfully ‘realistic’ insight into the dark life of ruthless vampires. Picture Joey in Friends hiding The Shining in the freezer when he was too scared? I was worse.

On the whole I’m a words person, despite any misconceptions this post might leave you with. That’s not to say I don’t thoroughly enjoy a great movie. This year will also see the movie adaptation of The Help and One Day, two stand out novels that I’ve read in the past year. I‘ll await them with an open mind safe in the knowledge that Limitless has set a precedent that proves novels can translate and if not? Well there’s always the popcorn.

*not his actual middle name.

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