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Author Topic: Books to Movies
Adam Masterman
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I'm no purist, sometimes its a great idea, and sometimes the movie is better than the book, even with good books. The Princess Bride worked far better as a movie, because its characters were so visually and linguisticaly distinctive (Viciny's slight lisp, Fezzic's massive proportions and deep baritone, Max's jewish accent).

Other times the book and the movie are both good, for very different reasons. The Shining, as a novel, is a very powerful account of an ordinary man going slowly, horrifically insane. The movie starts with a man whose insanity is there right from the beginning, just waiting to be revealed. You never sympathize with Jack (one never sympathizes with any character in a Kubrick film), but the terrifying presence of the Overlook, to the point where many think of it as a character in of itself, is masterful. Best horror film ever.

Also by Kubrick, A Clockwork Orange ends up being a very different film than the book, both in theme and in style. I never personally cared for either, but I recognize the artistic merits of both.

Someone mentioned Dune as being a bad movie, which I disagree with, but it is a very different vision than Herbert's. Lynch's film is powerful and strange in its own right, but it was too far from the mood and purpose of the original. For all of its originality and verve(I love the design of the spacer's guild) Dune fans deserve a Jackson-esque faithful adaptation. I love Oliver Stone, but I wouldn't want him to turn my favorite novel into an "Oliver Stone".

Two of my favorite books were made into bad movies starring Brad Pitt: Seven Years in Tibet and Legends of the Fall. Both movies had their moments (the scenes of old Lhasa in the former were, according to refugees I talked to, perfect), but the essential character of the books were sacrificed to more hackneyed cliches. In Seven Years, a great pre-freudian adventure yarn becomes an ode to theraputic healing. In Legends, a nearly perfect oral history is bogged down with embarrassing native american spiritualism and misplaced romanticism. Incidentally, Daruma, if you are reading this, I'm still waiting for you to read Legends of the Fall. I have a strong suspicion that you and I will agree that it is THE american novel. Anyway...

The Harry Potter franchise is slaughtering the books, which are way better suited to a television series (her chapters are written like episodes, with a mini-conflict and resolution, and big season finale final chapters). LOTR, as I implied, was done extremely well, though not in a way that could challenge the primacy of the books (rightfully, IMO).


Before I ramble on, anyone want to comment on those, or add new ones? Oh, before I forget, the television series of The Stand was awesome, true to the book but brought it alive in such a memorable way, great performances by Sinise, Walston, and others (even Rob Lowe is good!).

Adam

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Daruma28
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Before reading your post, I would have said what I tell everyone whenever discussing this topic: The Shining is the only instance where I liked the movie better than the book.

As for Legends of the Fall...I LOVE that movie. Saw it in the theatre, and own the DVD. Didn't even know it was a book. Who is the author, because I would definitely like to read it -- however, I DO hate reading books AFTER having seen the movie. Instead a "pure" vision in my minds eye of how characters should look based on the author's descriptions, I'm stuck visualizing the actor/actress in the role of the movie I have already seen.

As for LOTR - well, I really enjoyed the trilogy, they came pretty damn close. I can't really complain, as I'm sure in another directors/producers hands, could have absolutely RUINED the story for me - but Jackson did a good job.

The only character I did NOT like in the movie was the creepy Matrix villain as Elrond.

At least we weren't subjected to Keanu Reeves as Aragorn... [LOL]

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Jesse
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The Shawshank Redemption was a good deal better than the original short story.

Dune was visually very well done. Ignoring the issue of accuracy (Fremen without hoods!!! Your water is for the Tribe.), they did an excellent job on the costumes and the sets, and the camera work was great.

The alterations in the plot left a far less compelling story.

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kenmeer livermaile
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"Dune was visually very well done. Ignoring the issue of accuracy (Fremen without hoods!!! Your water is for the Tribe.), they did an excellent job on the costumes and the sets, and the camera work was great. The alterations in the plot left a far less compelling story."

To say the least. No one who hadn't read the book understood the movie. But yeah, great visual evocation.

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Tom_paines_ghost
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Blade Runner was a far bette rmovie than a book.

I think the visuals of Dune were too much for filmmaking; and the internal portion of it ill served b the voiceovers.

So, was decker a replicant?

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Adam Masterman
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Legends of the Fall was written by Jim Harrison, IMO our best living author. Its short, only about a 100 pages (pithy) , usually published in collection volumes, and is absolutely garunteed to knock your socks off. I had already seen the movie and really liked it, and was still unprepared for how awesome the book is. You'll never believe me till you read it, so get cracking! (its hard to find, you'll need a big bookstore, or order from amazon)

Since we are on the subject of Dune and David Lynch, anyone here a Twin Peaks fan? I'm thinking of buying season one on dvd ($75.00) just based on what I've heard (never watched it). Is it worth it?

Adam

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Tom_paines_ghost
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I really hated turning the "Wierding Way" into a tech thing.

Patrick Stewart made great Gurney Halleck

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0Megabyte
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Yes. I loathed the tech stuff.

The worst thing I saw them do in the movie was change the entirety of the point, having Muad'dib have some sort of technology blueprints or whatever from the Atreides, which they used to make a form of sonic weaponry which they used to defeat the empire?!

They totally got rid of the rather historically accurate idea of the nomadic people whose survival skills allowed them to possess much greater skills then the longstanding and ever-victorious and thus "soft" armies of an empire. I mean, I read about this sort of thing in history books.

But instead, they got rid of it.

Ugh.

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ngthagg
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Jesse: Right on! Shawshank Redemption is always the first movie that pops into my head when this subject comes up. Forrest Gump is the second.

Here's a couple that might be controversial: X-Men and Spiderman. If we can consider a series of comic books as regular books, then these two movies took wildly divergent storylines and characters and used only the essence.

Finally, I submit Peter Pan and Robin Hood (the Disney movies) are better than their source novels.

ngthagg

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kenmeer livermaile
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"Finally, I submit Peter Pan and Robin Hood (the Disney movies) are better than their source novels."

Aye -- or at least probably -- for we have no idea of how the original books or plays registered upon their audiences.

But the originals contained sublime passages that were as good in themselves as any subsequent transmogrifications.

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seekingprometheus
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I may generate hate for some of these comments, but...

I've long maintained that Stephen King movies are better than the books. (This could have to do with the fact that I can't stand his novels, whereas I find the movies tolerable to decent).

About a Boy was IMO a very good movie that came from an absolute shyte book (never again will I subject myself to Hornby drivel).

A couple of excellent movies from excellent books: Fight Club and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I might even venture that the Fight Club movie was better than the book.

And the kicker: The Lord of the Ring movies, IMHO, were slightly less boring than those interminable, soporific books. I swear I'd have switched places with Frodo by the middle of the third book--as there is no way that his quest was more fatiguing than the "Fellowship of the Trying to Wade Through These Unending Tomes". See Clerks 2 for a delightful and concise review of the LOTR by Randall. Let the exclamations of hatred begin...

p.s. I liked The Hobbit, although I thought it also suffered far too timid editing.

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The Drake
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"Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" was better than Blade Runner.
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Tom_paines_ghost
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Glad you liked the story, individual taste is a wonderful thing.

Do you think Decker was a replicant in Blade Runner?

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Eric
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Adam --
I agree somewhat on the Harry Potter movies. A TV series faithful to the books would by necessity run too long (like a daytime soap), so I think the movies are a decent compromise. But I agree 100% on The Stand. It's my favorite King book by far, and the TV mini-series was near perfect. They even included the Monster Shouter!

Jesse --
You're spot-on about Shawshank Redemption. I enjoyed the short story, but was blown away by the movie.

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Adam Masterman
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Yes, the monster shouter. The length let them put in so many small touches and details like that, no movie could have come close to capturing the book so well.

Most people assume that a movie treatment is always the better option, because television generally runs on a smaller budget and has lower production values. And often they are right, especially when a story needs to be overly manipulated to make it work on television. With Harry Potter, however, the stories are already structured like a television series, with a nice balance between larger continuity and episodic plots. It really would have been the way to go.

My highschool english teacher, while not committing the full blasphemy of calling the movie BETTER than the original, always maintained that Mel Gibson's Hamlet was the best film version. Personally I prefered Kenneth Branaugh's version.

I loved Jim Caveizel (msp?) in The Count of Monte Christo. Never bothered to wade through the book, anyone able to compare the two?

Believe it or not, the is a film version of The Brothers Karamazov, starring William Shatner! Unfortunately for Captain Kirk/Aloysha, it didn't even approach the artistry of the novel (which may not even be possible). Still, points for trying.

Adam

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Eric
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quote:
Believe it or not, the is a film version of The Brothers Karamazov, starring William Shatner!
I never thought much of Shatner as an actor until I started watching "Boston Legal". Still not great acting, but he's great in that role.
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0Megabyte
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The Brothers Karamozov, with William Shatner.

Please tell me he wasn't Ivan. Please.

I mean, I can just imagine the scene from the chapter Rebellion. That'd be... well. That'd be something.

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Eric
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"You...Russian bastard...you've...killed Dad!"
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seekingprometheus
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The Count of Monte Cristo is better as a book. The greater developoment of the psyche of the lead character is really missing in the movie (which I thought was good). The book and the movie differ on several counts, some of them very integral to the story.

I put both book and movie in the same bin: Good, but not Great. Readers of the book watch the movie with that classic plaint: "Hey, that didn't happen in the book! And what happened to the (insert important missing element here)?!"

I'd recommend reading the book, but to be honest--this might be the one and only book I've ever read where an abridged version might be the way to go.

I know I've sounded this tune before (more in jest than seriously when referring to Tolkien above), but the unabridged version of The Count of MC is ridiculously unedited. Literally hundreds of pages at a time deviate from the storyline in florid, desultory subnovels that end up having nothing to do with the plot of the book. If I've lost creditability with someone due to my little LOTR diatribe, just read an introduction before you choose a version--the one I read (and then snobbishly--and foolishly--dismissed) talked about how Dumas wrote before editing roles had developed, and that it is virtually universally agreed that the book suffers for it.

(By the way, as a reader, this is actually a very rare criticism for me. There are perhaps half a dozen or so books that I have thought really suffered from lack of trimming--and it's a pure coincidence that two of those select few happen to have been discussed here).

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kenmeer livermaile
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There are books that are so popular and so good they get movies made of them several times. Nabokov's "Lolita", for example. The movies (which I haven't seen) may be very good, but they can only be at best an impression built on the plotline. Oh, the events in the book all nicely translate into cinema, and voice-overs will handle the protagonist's instrospections.... but Lolita was about written language most of all.

It is rather like making a movie of Hamlet but writing your own dialogue.

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flydye45
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Dune was also done in a TV series which was a much more faithful adaptation, though less technically and visually stunning. Worth the time spent watching if only to compare it to Lynch (Visually great, storywise, crap)

The one I think of is Jurassic Park. While an interesting book in it's own right, the movie took a lot of liberties which made it different but just as interesting.

Monte Cristo had multiple versions. The TV version with Richard Chaimberlain was much truer to the original story, though some shortcuts were made and the slave girl was removed.

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0Megabyte
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flydye: Yeah, I agree with your view of the Dune miniseries.

Visually... I could tell the backgrounds were not even bluescreens but just paper sheets or something like that. I wasn't really impressed. At all. What's her name, the girl Muad'dib marries, yeah, Chani, was hot in that one though.

Anyway... storylinewise, yes, it was much closer, as it was longer. I still don't believe the look of either of them. They don't look the way I envisioned them in my mind.

Though, the way I envisioned in my mind was a much more literal medieval/future setting, with a more stark mixture of the two elements. Go figure.

The sequel for that, Children of Dune, had vastly superior special effects, and I think did an impressive job of pulling the story together.

Now if only there was a series for God Emperor of Dune...

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seekingprometheus
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Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is another interesting case.

I wouldn't go so far as to compare movie to book, but I thought the special effects of the film were an excellent contribution. I'm thinking here particularly of the animated pictograph shorts representing selections from the actual Guide--kind of added sizzle to the humor IMO.

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Adam Masterman
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Anyone read Kazanzakas's "Last Temptation of Christ"? I liked the movie, never read the book.

Perhaps the most interesting book/movie relationship I've ever seen is King's Secret Window, Secret Garden. *spoiler alert*


What they do in the movie is change the ending from the book. If you had read the book, everything is going along just like the book, and then the ending is totally different. The shocking ending from the book is that, after the protagonist is killed, a letter appears from his psychotic alter-ego, suggesting that somehow the guy WAS real, and not just a schizophrenic delusion. In the movie, the protagonist isn't killed, but instead kills his ex-wife and her new husband, and basically gets away with it. The cool thing is that this new ending is foreshadowed throughout the whole movie. The alter-ego character keeps imploring Johnny Depp's character to change the ending of his story to the version the alter ego suppossedly wrote. Several times he quotes a line about "helping himself to another ear of corn. Soon, the truth would be a mystery, even to him." Its only at the end of the movie, as Johnny Depp acts this very scene out, that we (the audience) realize that the alter-ego character was breaking the third wall the whole time, talking about how the ending was changed from the original story. You would only get it if you had read the story, otherwise it would just be a straightforward creepy thriller. But putting that in was such a cool nod to his (King's) fans, a suprise ending when you thought you knew the ending, made doubly cool because it had been mentioned explicitly all throughout the movie.

Adam

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KnightEnder
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I loved the movie Legend of the Fall.

Generally I think books are far superior to movies. But the Princess Bride is probably a good example. Jurasic Park was better as a movie. I can't think of many movies that were better than the book, though. My boys both disagree. They are both shallow.

KE

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KnightEnder
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Hey, Fly, I just read them all and turns out we agree on something- Jurasic Park. Though I can't stand Dune or the Tolken books or movies. But then I can't stand U2 or Rush. All that is sacriligious to some people. They feel about that the way I feel about people that don't like the Beatles and John Wayne movies.

I loved the movie The Count of Monte Cristo. Not so much the sandwiches of the same name at Chilis. [Wink]

KE

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0Megabyte
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Hmm. Anyone see that Eragon movie yet?

I did... with the little kids in my family, because I had to. I'd have rather seen Apocalypto.

But anyway, well... I wasn't impressed. At all. Ick.

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KnightEnder
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I just watched "Harvey" with Jimmy Stewart and can anyone tell me why in "Field of Dreams" Keving Constners character tells his daughter (she's watching Harvey on their television) that Dowd (Jimmy Stewarts character) is a "bad man"? I think he says "bad", he might say "sick".

Now I have to watch Field of Dreams again. Good movie but it always makes me cry.

KE

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KnightEnder
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SPOILERS***Field of Dreams****Harvey****

I think I figured it out. I was explaining Field of Dreams to my mom, she's never seen it, and I realized that Kevin's character waw 'hearing voices' and he thought he was going crazy like Jimmy's character. But Jimmy's character wasn't going crazy.

Telling my mom about, about the interaction between him and his father, it started me crying. I've got to get some more Zoloft. Real feelings are too intense. [Crying] [Cool] [Smile]

KE

[ December 18, 2006, 11:42 AM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]

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Carlotta
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Dune only made sense to people who had read the book. I watched the entire multi-disk movie twice, really didn't get it, and then read the book and it made more sense.

I thought Narnia was better than the books in some ways. The movie lost the undertone of british humor that is present in the books, but gave the world of Narnia more of a sense of largeness to the events. The books just have a smaller feel to them, if that makes any sense.

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Politius
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the one i can think of off the top of my head that was a great book as a kid and a great movie was

"James and the Giant Peach."

That was a great one imho

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KnightEnder
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I read Narnia as a kid, before I was old enough to realize it was Christian propoganda and I can't imagine a movie being any larger. The cup and bowls that never get empty and which let you eat or drink anything you wanted? That blew my mind. Oh, so did the Lion King.

PS, even after I knew what it was I read it to my boys. Good writing is good writing.

James and the Giant Peach was an excellent movie, I didn't read the book.

KE

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Britster
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A friend of mine has a great saying,

"The movie was a better movie than the book was a book" or vice versa

As so many of you have said, different stories work better in different formats. The Shawshank Redemption was a much better movie than the short story was a good short story. However, Legends of the Fall was a much better book than the movie was a movie.

Books and Movies are two very different mediums, and it's very difficult to compare the two. I think it's best to look at the story itself, and how the medium presents it best.

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Daruma28
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KE - what do you mean by "propaganda?"

Is the chronicles of Narnia meant to convert non-believers to Chritianity?

Or is it merely a fantasy story told using Christian allegory and metaphors?

Do you consider much of OSC's writings to be "Mormon Propaganda?"

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KnightEnder
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No.

But it is widely acknowledged that C.S. Lewis wrote his books to influence people towards Christianit for which he was a strong proponent.

If it was just a case of allegory and metaphors I wouldn't have mentioned it because living in a Christian society there are so many books like that that it wouldn't have been worth mentioning. However, knowing what I've seen on the History Channel and what I've read about C.S. Lewis it is pretty obvious what his motivations are. Although as I'm sure someone will point out; I can't see into C.S. Lewis's heart. Or rather I couldn't even if C.S. Lewis were still alive. And I'm sure C.S. Lewis never wrote; I am trying to subliminaly influence and indoctrinate children into Christianity. Tacitly maybe, but never blatantly, I'm sure.

Like I said; I loved the books, and I read them to my kids.

KE

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Daruma28
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Ok...just wasn't so sure by what you meant about "propaganda."

I loved the books as well - in fact, I JUST bought a used copy of the complete Chronicles in one hardcover book.

It's been over 20 years since I read them, and I intend to read it all again, just to see if it holds up as well to my adult mind as it enthralled and enchanted my 12 year old mind.

Because Tolkien sure withstood the test of time and maturity for me...

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Snowden
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Legends of the Fall was an agressively told tale of anarchists. There is something uniquely western about it, but in all of Harrison's books, the protagonists seem rootless. They aren't civic minded. They seem all so deep in wrestling with their own demons, usually tied to the death of a family member or love one, that their conflicts take on an insular feel.

Harrison writes stories about hard, lonely, horny, destructive men, rugged individuals who have loyal partners, but no real friends, and it always comes down to lone, or at most, clan violence. There is a feeling of war in Legends of the Fall, Tristan's clan against the world including god, and Alfred is a defector. To be honest, people like that spook Tristan. Those aren't city men. Or if they are, they are gangbangers. They aren't democrats. I don't even think that they are all domesticated. I like people who fight for something more honorable than revenge or lust, and family is too easy. Tristan is one of those guys who bends the world to them. A force of nature. A throwback to Achilles, but the problem is that I never thought he spent enough time thinking about what he could offer the world. There is something of a moral failure in that. I mean, think about how much of a better nation the US would have been if Tristan had gone into public service rather than Alfred. Or if Tristan had cared.

There is something of Steinbeck in Harrison. but without the humor or community awareness. In a toss up, I'll take Steinbeck, though Legends did remind me of East of Eden, and that's no mean comparison.

[ December 21, 2006, 07:54 AM: Message edited by: Snowden ]

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Wayward Son
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quote:
But it is widely acknowledged that C.S. Lewis wrote his books to influence people towards Christianity for which he was a strong proponent.
"Widely acknowledged?" C.S. Lewis actually admitted it in one of the books. I think it was the fourth one (can't remember which) where Aslan tells one of the characters something about getting to know him in Narnia so that "you will know me better in yours."

When I read that line, it pissed me off too, and I stopped reading the series. Although I did enjoying finishing the series when I was in college. [Smile]

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KnightEnder
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Thanks Wayward. Sometimes you know something in your heart and mind without having the quotes to back it up. Nor the time to research it and find them.

KE

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LoverOfJoy
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quote:
I think it was the fourth one (can't remember which) where Aslan tells one of the characters something about getting to know him in Narnia so that "you will know me better in yours."
I haven't read the series so I don't know the context of that quote but I wouldn't necessarily consider it a confession that the series is propoganda.

To be honest, when I read it, it made me think of a popular phrase in mormon if not christian culture. It's something like, "Live your life so that those who know you but don't know Him will want to know Him." I know I'm botching it but the basic principle is that we should be an example of Christ. When we are baptized we take upon us the name of Christ and those who know us better should know Christ better (because theoretically his and our characteristics are similar).

This is similar to a verse in the Book of Mormon:
Alma 5:14
quote:
And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?
That's how I interpreted the Aslan quote anyway. If Aslan represents God/goodness, then knowing him helps you recognize God/goodness in your life (or the life of whoever he was speaking to...he wasn't speaking directly to the reader, was he?

If that's propoganda, then all true Christians are themselves propoganda for Christ even if they don't overtly tell anyone they are christians. That's a pretty broad definition of propoganda.

In what way could an allegory of Christ not be propoganda by that definition?

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