Monday, January 31, 2005

Timeless theme from PBS

'Those whom heaven helps we call the sons of heaven. They do not learn this by learning. They do not work it by working. They do not reason it by using reason. To let understanding stop at what cannot be understood is a high attainment. Those who cannot do it will be destroyed on the lathe of heaven.'

"What If" films will always be with us: in the past few years, I've seen The Butterfly Effect and Lola rennt, both having the same thematic substance, and now once again The lathe of heaven on DVD. After seeing the PBS version (which has the expected low budget touches) with my brother & sister years ago, I read the book & thought it be Ursula K. Le Guin's best.

There were several favourite touches from the book that the movie could not fit in. When George turns all humans grey, his first thought was that maybe the loss of Abraham Lincoln & Martin Luther King wasn't such a bad price to pay never having had racial prejudice, but you could tell the disassociation between his thoughts & feelings. Later when he's at a restaurant putting African seasoning on his food, it drives home the metaphor or how the world had been thinned out, made bland, by all his 'effective dreams'. When he meet LeLache at the end, she comments, so this is the world you created with your dreams & he laughs/shrugs well it was the best i could do.

The DVD had few extras, but there was Ursula K. Le Guin's only interview ever with Bill Moyer. A bit over long, but some nice tidbits - The Lathe of Heaven was a translator's mistake. Lathes did not exist when the Taoist proverb came into existence; the movie was filmed in 12 days with the folks working 13-14 hour days. Was late, so did not watch the full 25 minute interview.

Under no circumstances watch the remake - only saw the last 10 minutes & hated that enough to avoid the rest of the film. The original has its flaws (micro-budget made for PBS sometimes shows through), but has enough substance to still be worth viewing.

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