The interesting thing about mooks for me is that, if I have read the book before I watch the film, I almost always hate the film. The only exceptions to this are The Lord of the Rings series and The Song of Ice and Fire series which is being televised on HBO as The Game of Thrones. I suppose this is mostly because even if I notice the many details and stories that have been edited for the film/series adaptation, the presentation itself is so awesome that the objections fade out. The recent Hunger Games was another mook I enjoyed, having said that I did have issues with the editing and appreciated it only for the film’s sake and not as an adaptation. Harry Potter also comes to mind as one of the best known mook series – no doubt the books supersede the films but I did enjoy a few onscreen versions. The last two instalments of the lot was memorable and a tad emotional for those of us who had started reading them in school and then later maybe even took our children to watch the films. It was in many ways the end of an era.
There are films like Guy Ritchie’s versions of what he thinks is Sherlock Holmes, which being good entertainers, are not really literal adaptions, not even in spirit. The names are borrowed and there in ends the similarity. Tim Burton’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is another example, but it was wonderfully imaginative and the sets and conceptualisation was brilliant. Okay, so it had Johnny Depp in it and I have non-jD/DC slamming clause. Which is why I always wondered why they didn’t attempt the subsequent parts of Phillip Pullman’s film adaptation for His Dark Materials series as – I did enjoy the first (and sadly only) film called The Golden Compass based on Northern Lights (cue in Daniel Craig) and read the series afterwards. The books were really good so I am blaming Nicole Kidman’s expansive forehead for the series being shelved. Anna Karenina, the fairly recent mook was a bold adaptation of a classic, and for a Tolstoy lover, I was prepared to hate it. Surprisingly however, not only was the story kept intact the but the interpretation in terms of cinematic presentation was simply put – sublime. If you like the classics, this mook shouldn’t be missed.
When you think about Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance cycle (or don’t think of it at all if you have spared yourself so far), you can’t really decide which was more unfortunate, the books or the one film they managed to make before the producers realised the books were hopeless. Eragon as a book was tolerable only because the readers marvelled how a 13-15yr old boy could have written something like that, but the film sank like a fledging baby dragon without wings. However, as the writer got older and the books progressively worse, there was no saving the series. I read them all, ladies and gentlemen, as I cannot not finish a series – it’s my curse. I also blame Arundhati Maitra for making me read the first part and also making me buy the second. And might I remind her, my recommendations have been overly time consuming but never as disappointing (we will blame the Twilight saga on the one named Mishali Bhattacharjee, but then again her choice of reading material and television shows in those days were partly suspect.)
Speaking of medieval slow torture mechanisms there are other famous mooks which shouldn’t even be considered as either books or films. Case in point: The Twilight Saga. Yes, this is one of the worse series I have ever read and I know it’s grotesquely addictive as I had to read on after the first book mostly hoping that idiot woman died somehow (twitched herself to death, maybe?) and then later seeing the talentless Kristen Stewart bringing her expressionlessly to.. err, life (?) I suppose just added fuel to the fire – I knew she wouldn’t die but was curious to see if the director wrote a violent death scene into the script anyway just on account of being that pathetic. It does make for good entertainment by way of being so bad that it’s almost good. No, maybe not even then. Amusingly enough other than the first film, I have no recollection of how the other ones played out on screen. Oh, I did watch them, but I guess they were so forgettable, I just went ahead and forgot them! Bless my ageing memory! 😀 Having said that, the last and final (hallelujah!) instalment of the series is almost upon us. In a fortnight I’ll be in Cineworld queuing or more likely battling it out with thousands of hyper c(st)upid-struck teenagers yelping about Edward Cullen’s marble chest or Jacob’s err, doggy breath (who is to say, what catches someone’s fancy?) to watch Breaking Dawn Part II.
Life of Pi is another awaited mook, and this I have to watch not only because Ang Lee has taken the stern on this project but also because I need to know what other people have made of this layered, sometimes bewilderingly amazing book.
And then there are films which inspire me to read the book it’s adapted from and that is a truly wonderful thing. For me it means that the film is really good, and if that’s what the film looks like, imagine how the book will read?! The Help and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close are the last two films that inspired me to read the books. I realised both films were true to their source, as true as cinematically possible but I also wondered if this was because I was biased having already liked the films. In spite of my initial qualms about books like Lord of the Rings being adapted into films, I realise that not all adaptations are bad, and some even manage to give us a fresher perspective on the stories we read. Some however, are sacred and must, to me, remain only on paper. I suppose I am so possessive of my own imagination that I would not have someone else thrusting their vision onto mine.
Well, here’s to good books and better films and may they continue to be mutually inspirational, I know I am in good hands as long as people like Vikram Seth and Hilary Mantel continue weaving magic with words, but to those of you oblivious to the charms of the written word, may there be lots of good adaptations to entertain you in the future.