Monday, December 24, 2007

Cahiers ou Cinema?

I like to spend my lunch hour drinking with NCOs, people with further education, religious scholars, that sort of thing. Conversation ranges widely, with owl etiquette and myself as frequent reference points.

Recently the Spirit of Radio 4 descended upon us and led to a discussion of whether the original book is always better than the film adaptation, with particular reference to Trainspotting.

I thought a more interesting question was why call either version Trainspotting unless you wanted to introduce the wrapped-sandwich community to skag, turps, fast music and Scottish culture, but as usual I was wrong.

Our conclusion, after scant consideration of little evidence, was that the book is always better. At which point we thought about it a bit more, and reached the following more comprehensive assessment.

The book is better than the film, with the following exceptions:

1. Films of Stephen King novels are better than the books, unless the films have the words "Stephen King's" in the title;

2. The same goes for Philip K Dick and in fact almost any piece of science fiction (see the Solaris debate I had with myself);

3. Our Man in Havana; and

4. Hardcore porn (that was my idea).

Unlike Radio 4 we are open to informed dissent, so fire away all you Christmas objectors.


The Birdwatcher said...

Disagree about No 4. Just as a play on radio is better than on the tele so using your imagination is better than having it done for you, so to speak.

No Good Boyo said...

Welcome, and Merry Xmas, Mr Goyt!

I agree with you on radio plays - think of Welles's War of the Worlds - but the comparison I was making was not One's Own Warped Imagination vs Lesbian Spank Inferno II, but rather between the cinematic splendour of LSI II and the bald shooting script.

Gyppo Byard said...

Why is the shooting script (sic) bald? Or had it just been shaved?

M C Ward said...

Shooting script - how apt a technical term.

May I suggest The Da Vinci Code as an example of a work of art where it is impossible to discern which is worse, the paper or the celluloid version?

No Good Boyo said...

Indeed, chaps. The Code struck me as a fun page-turner if you're a). dim b). like genre cliche-spotting. People who've also read the other two volumes of the Templar saga need a slap and a library card. The film sounded simply unenjoyable unless you relish Ian McKellen's annual making of himself a fool.

Gorilla Bananas said...

Spartacus wasn't as great a film as people thought, but it was a whole lot better than that boring old bumph written by Plutarch.

Aku said...

I say books are better because it allows me to appear more of an intellect - it shows I've actually read a book. Wow.

In best case there's no point in arguing which one is better because the book and the film are both individual pieces or art. Then again I can never be asked to read a book after I've seen the film. It ruins the fun when you can't use your imagination in the same way any more.

Nwdls said...

Endaf Emlyn makes a good go of it with Un Nos Ola Leuad, but I much preferred the b-movie Un Norse Ola Leuad made the following year to cash in on a successful formula but re-focusing slightly from an unhappy return to an unhappy childhood to a sole Viking's night-time raids on Bethesda's ale-houses.

Morover it proves the point that a screen adaptation has to destroy the original text and re-create it almost indistinguishably to better it.

Anonymous said...

I'd be tempted to add Harry Potter. Not that the films are better than the books, it's just that the books aren't all that much better than the films. Before I'd read the seventh installment I could never remember whether I knew a story from having seen it or having read it.

Ian Plenderleith said...

Eric Spitznagel's 'Fast Forward: Confessions of a Porn Screenwriter' tells of his endeavours in the field. It seems that most actors choose to pretty much ignore the script, as Christy Canyon admits in her dull autiobiography 'Lights, Camera, Sex!' Spitznagel kindly includes one of his own scripts, 'Butt Crazy!' which ends with the marvellous stage direction: "Lloyd quickly disrobes, and begins eating out Stacey from behind. After a heart-stopping bout of foreplay, they fuck like greased weasels."

Which is easily more entertaining than anything I've ever seen in a hard core porn film. Though, for reasons of research, I will continue to seek that elusive combination of wit and eroticism that will hopefully lead to the ultimate dual hedonism of hysterical, uncontrolled laughter coupled simultaneously with a frothing, spine-bucking sexual climax.

I'll keep you posted.

No Good Boyo said...

Herr Pop, your library is a source of envy to all Mankind, and I wish you well with your researcg. Mr Spitznagel, apart from having the best name ever, is a master of Wildean prose and clearly wasted on two-up action, pulling trains and peeling the durian.

Ordo, the moment will come when everyone over the age of 15 who's read/watched Harry Potter products will wake up in the night screaming and never stop. The noise will end all known life. This was Rowling's plan.

Nwdls, you've given me a Proustian moment there. Endaf Emlyn was the soundtrack to my wispy youth. Salem, Swllt a Naw, bliss. And I pity any Viking fucker to tries to get busy in the Oak, frankly.