Recently read Asimov’s Bicentennial Man. It reminded me of the movie
version I’d watched a long while ago. But only just. It amazed me how
much of change the story had undergone during the transition from novella
novella to movie script.
The movie by itself isn’t bad; the first half is quite sensitively
portrayed, sensitive enough to tug at your heartstrings. It meanders
in the second half, finally going where you never expected it to go,
and ending at an equally unpredictable stage. Andrew, the robot with
extra-wide positronic pathways can think and produce works of art,
ends up fascinated with humans and looks for family and togetherness,
falls in love with Little Miss’s granddaughter, opts for replacement of
his metallic parts with organic ones [he wants to know what
intercourse feels like], which finally results in his, well, end.
Uh-huh, I said and wished that an innocent Andrew hadn’t
metamorphosized into a very irritating Robin Williams. The movie tells
of an individual robot’s quest to make himself human, for purposes
very different from those mentioned in the book. The book spoke for
robotkind; the movie is more of a slice-of-life sort. The book deals
more with the aspect of endless life and an unprecedented incident
while the movie with the personal aspect of such an incident.
Which brings me to think: why on earth do filmmakers make movie
versions of books if they aren’t going to remain faithful to the
original? Doesn’t their version cease to be a version of the original
with the major changes they bring about in the storyline and script?
Like why at all say ‘Based on the novel by JK Rowling’ if you don’t
bother to stick to her entire story and simplify the whole thing to
something beyond recognition, add crazy-sounding spells for better
effect, fiddle with the way the characters are supposed to be
portrayed? Wouldn’t it be better to say “Inspired by” or “characters
and central storyline from”?
I very well understand the difficulty of fitting a 636-page tome into
two hours [westerners have shorter attention spans or what?], but why
at all make a movie of it? Why not a fixed-episode animated series on
prime time TV?
Hmm… I’m tempted to think that might help, but hey, it is always the
book that is preferred over the other versions. Like, show me one
person who preferred Deepa Mehta’s 1947-Earth to Bapsi Sidhwa’s
Ice-Candy Man. Or the Will Smith-starrer I, Robot over Asimov’s book
of the same name [At least the film says ‘based on characters created
by Isaac Asimov’.] Or anyone who says Orlando Bloom was just like
they’d imagined Legolas to be. You’ll find more people who say that
the Arwen-Strider romance was overdone in the movie.
Is the book preferred just ‘coz it is the original, and any subsequent
version seems like a cheap copy that leaves out some or the other
detail, or in most cases, a chunk of the story due to constraints
imposed by the other medium? The fact that we never are able to
appreciate remakes when we’ve seen the original corroborates this
But then, maybe not. I read the novelization [a novelisation, mind
you, the movie came first] of Manoj Night Shyamalan’s Sixth Sense and
found it more enjoyable than the film.
Maybe it is that while reading a book, we are able to skip the boring
parts and come back to the better parts while that is not really
possible in a movie.
The movie screen in your head shows the characters in terms of what
you already understand [heh, I always visualized Hagrid as a junglee
version of Putty Thing and Snape as a long-haired version of Fish Guy
from The Mask].
And lengthy monologues are less boring while we are reading them,
than while watching them. Ha, They’re planning to make a movie of The Da
Vinci Code. I wish them all the best. I really wonder how they are
going to get all the fact-explanation sessions in without boring the
pants off the audience. Will they show clips from The Passion of
But what takes the cake is the attempted movie version of Life of Pi.
The book is about how the lone survivor of a shipwreck drifts ashore
after more than two hundred days on a lifeboat in the Pacific. In the
company of a 450-pound Bengal tiger, a Grant’s zebra [with a broken
leg!], a hyena and a female orangutan, no less. The amount of blood
and gore they’d have to show… the hyena eats the zebra alive [the
process spreads over three days], kills the orangutan, feasts on the
carcass until it gets eaten by the tiger.
What’s more, dialogues are limited, and the text is filled more with
explanations for the protagonist’s deeds and animal behaviour.
“If you take the city of Tokyo, turn it upside down and shake it, you’d
be surprised as to how many animals you would get. Komodo dragons,
tigers, lions, leopards, and even an elephant or two. And they
thought… in the middle of a jungle… ha, simply laughable! What were
Exactly. What were they thinking?
[PS: the extract from Life Of Pi isnt the proper one, I don’t have my copy with me now. More authentic versions will be appreciated.
Neways, it feels so good to be back online, blogging.]