Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Hypocrite

Have you ever felt like beating yourself up for having watched that abhorrently made movie out of that wonderful book you loved? Join the club. The world is full of us snobs who have continued torturing ourselves with the celluloid versions of Gone with the wind, Painted Veil and Memoirs of a Geisha, to name a few.

However, have you ever watched a movie, loved it, then read the book, loved the book even more, felt guilty for having loved the movie in the first place, and then ended up dissing the movie?

No? Meet me, the hypocritical book lover.

I must have watched My Fair Lady for the first time, when I was ten. I loved “Wouldn’t it be loverly”, Eliza Dolittle’s flower girl accent, Professor Higgins’ English Language Teaching (ELT) methods and Eliza’s outfit at the Embassy ball. It was a beautiful movie, and it gave The Sound of Music competition in occupying my mind space.

I read G. B. Shaw’s Pygmalion when I was seventeen. Quite late, one would say, for an ardent book lover. Shaw is a brilliant playwright, and I am just a minion complimenting the high priest. I was awestruck by the dialogues, the flow of the story, and, most of all, the ending.

They say, the ending really makes or breaks a movie. And, most of the movie remakes of books have endings suiting the palate of the viewing audience, which isn’t shared by the reading audience; which is one of the biggest reasons book lovers hate movie versions.

Pygmalion had a logical ending, albeit heartless. While it didn’t appeal to the romantic in me, it did capture my bookish-heart. The ending sounded right, the flower girl would never have been happy with Professor Higgins; it was too much of a force-fit to marry them off to each other.

And, I finally found the single biggest reason to hate the movie I had loved; the ending is so randomly romantic, fairy-taleish and filmy.

The rationalist in me has gone back and asked the question of why I did not see this “flaw” before, during all those years I fell over and over in love again with the scene where Audrey Hepburn gets together with Rex Harrison.

I am a biased judge of movies. I think I am qualified to judge a movie as bad because I am a book lover, like the type that thinks that it is too arty and classy to love anything beneath Ship of Theseus (which movie, for the record, I walked out of, while the monks traversed the sandy, wind-mill ridden roads for ten minutes). And, the minute I walk into a movie adaptation, I start looking for factual inaccuracies and non-adherence to the book, so that my point can be proven – a point that movie makers kill books and so should be banned from adapting books into movies.

It is sad that I do not have the openness to appreciate a piece of art for what it is, disengaging it from the fact that it might be an adaptation, and accepting that creative pieces should have voices of their own, even if they are adapted.

Someday, someone is going to write a book adaptation of a movie. Perhaps, it will be of a movie I love. Inception perhaps? I wonder what my reaction would be on reading that book.


Um viajante said...

Probably the cognitive dissonance would disappear if you consider each work in its own merit. Each form of art is different hence the reproduction cannot have identical effect. Filmmakers have made moviesfrom poems and even paintings too...define sticking to the script threre! If anything, in a film, the director may want a different ending from the author as he rightly has a different vision of how things should be. Maybe we should start expecting script differences and changes as the norm rather than exception.

Vijay Venkat Raghavan N said...

During a movie (don't remember which one) you once said "This is not true!!! This is not how it is in the book". I almost gave you my characteristic "Truth is not what is written in a book" - good I didn't say it :)

Shreya said...

VVR, yes good you didn't say it. Who knows where things would have been today? :P
Kavity, I loved 'Ship of Theseus'! Don't blame walking out on that admittedly less than gripping road journey. You must not have been in the right random frame of mind to accept the other randomness it had. Pfhhfaw!

Bihag Bhatt said...

Watch "Adaptation"! It's an amazing movie about adaptation of books in to movies!

Kandarp said...

Well, in all fairness, Professor Higgins says "Fetch me my slippers" (if I remember correctly) and retires to his 'solitude' by pulling the hat over his eyes. Then the movie ends.
Definitely doesn't convey romance to me, quite the contrary - it seems to make the point that he would never treat her as an equal, don't you think ?