Sunday, April 24, 2005

"Reading" a book after seeing the movie

I've noticed that after I see a film, and then read the book, I usually think less of the book than the movie. Deliverance i read years after seeing the movie & felt the book was nothing special. Same feeling when I finally read The Graduate after the Broadway production a few years ago.

Usually I have to learn something new when I read the book, so The Sweet Hereafter was well worth reading - partly because of the internal monologue style - but also because it filled in (fleshed out?) the movie.

The same was true for Death and the Maiden. Like Sweet Hereafter, i enjoyed the movie so much, I read the book and bought (or was treated) the the soundtrack.

Now I'm listening to The Quiet American and have to view it as superior both to the movie and to the other Greene novels I've read: Heart of the Matter and Travels with my Aunt (too slight to be worth a link). What jumps out at me beyond the richness of the characters is how foolish the French were for even being there. Why couldn't they see that the colonial empire was coming to an end? How was maintaining their presence in Indo-China helping them? Was is just pride of the empire that caused them to stay in Vietnam for 10 years longer than they should have and in Algeria for even longer. Obviously the same question occurs for the U.S. - why we paid 80% of the French effort when the colonial era was so clearly coming to an end. Nothing worse than being on the wrong side of history in a war.

I've finished listening to 2 tapes out of 5. Favourite bit of trivia so far is the Black Prince's slaughter of 3,000 civilians at Limoges. Not that familiar with his history, so appreciate how slyly Greene & his stand-in Thomas slipped in the ugly truth to contrast with the noble image afflicting the Quiet American Pyle.

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