Tag Archives: Movies

Why Butcher Novels with Film Adaptations?

“The subject of reading, of absorbing and interpreting, of assimilating the book’s narrative into the narrative of our lives, becomes inextricable from the text. There are schools of literary theory that focus, with varying degrees of complexity, on reader response and the “event” of reading. But the underlying concept is simple. Reading isn’t passive absorption; it’s an active rewriting based on who you are, where you are, how old you are and, possibly, whether or not it rained that morning. […]

The question remains: Why reduce these novels that grow so much bigger than their 1,000-odd pages into 2 1/2-hour movies, plays and ballets?

In her 1926 essay The Cinema, Virginia Woolf is obsessed with this problem. In reference to some of the earliest film adaptations of Anna Karenina, Woolf considers how strange it is to see someone else’s face imposed on a character that “the brain knows almost entirely by the inside of her mind.”

Woolf’s issue is how much film relies on visual distillation – “A kiss is love. … Death is a hearse” – when our experience of reading is just the opposite. Literary love is so much more than visual; the depicted relationship must travel along a twisting autobiographical pathway of ex-lovers and daydreams to make any sense to us at all. So why subject these great works of literature to such diminishing distortions?”

From: theglobeandmail.com/arts/theatre-and-performance/dancing-into-anna-kareninas-mind/article24007703/?service=mobile

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Living in a Screen World

We are spending too much time in front of various screens, instead of reading books, to the detriment of our brains.

“To illustrate the neurological effect of this imbalance, we can adapt Marshall McLuhan’s ideas about “hot” and “cool” media: the screen delivers its communication piping hot, in fully cooked messages. If it’s a tree, it looks like a tree — no decoding required. Moreover, the screen delivers fully formed stories, with actors, sets and all other manner of visual stimuli and narrative embellishments — no imagination required. Reading a book, however, demands all kinds of brain work: decode the words; imagine the look and sound of the story; and be responsive enough that conflict, suspense and climax are made emotionally satisfying without a musical score and well-crafted editing. And might this emotional satisfaction teach our brains that hard work is rewarding?” 

“If de Saussure were alive today, I suspect he’d approve of mashing up semiotic theory and neurobiology, since he argued that it’s in the brain that the signifier (the word) is combined with the signified (what the word represents) and meaning is made. Today, neuroscientists have extended that notion exponentially: because “the neurons that fire together, wire together,” we know this meaning-making process affects the brain’s physical structure and shapes our behaviours and our proclivities. It follows logically that living in a screen-filled world, without the brain-training afforded by habitual reading, is undermining [ our ] ability to accurately decode the details and nuances of the written word”.

From: m.thespec.com/opinion-story/5204679-all-i-want-for-christmas-is-semiotics/

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Visual [il]literacy

What happens when students watch movie adaptations of literary works?

“Increasingly in contemporary […]  schooling, great store is placed on what is described as “visual literacy”. The appropriation of the word literacy is wrong. Film is an entirely different form and does not, and never can, help reading and writing skills.” …

“Visual literacy should not be confused with substantial textual knowledge. That requires students to understand language, how it works, how we read it, comprehend it and write about it in clear, unambiguous, grammatical English. There is nothing literary, as far as traditional skills are concerned, in watching a movie.” …

“Watching a film is an easy option. The result? A generation of “screeners” – as scholar Dale Spender calls the screen-besotted generation – who are being impoverished by an emphasis on film and not literary texts.”

From: theaustralian.com.au

The Need for Book News

“We know the top songs on the radio and the movies in theaters. Why don’t we know what books are the latest on the shelves? …

Imagine if books were discarded because of lack of readership. We wouldn’t be left with many books and the ones we would be left with would be “Twilight” fan fiction. “Fifty Shades of Grey,” I’m referring to you. Quality literature and peoples’ interest in it is fading fast.

We have become a society that is focused on watching images on screens instead of allowing images to be formed in our minds from words. In my opinion, it is important to know what is going on in the world in terms of news and pop culture. However, most news doesn’t seem to include books. Many of today’s movies and TV shows are based off of novels, showing the impact they have beyond the literary scope. People may feel weighed down when they read page after page in a book, but without good writers to write screenplays for movies and scripts for TV shows, there wouldn’t be any. The basis for everything stems from the ability to write and to write well. This is why we need to enlighten ourselves and acknowledge the work that is going unnoticed in the book industry.”

From: http://www.dailycampus.com/focus/the-dog-ear-contemporary-authors-matter-1.2993410#.USabJ3JMLC0

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Literary movie adaptations no replacement for novels

A student “says he prefers watching films to reading novels.

He argues that watching a movie is more interesting than reading a novel.

“Reading is boring and sometimes when my teacher is reading a novel, I do not follow well,” Mponye says.

He also says it saves time to follow a story condensed in a movie, other than reading 500 pages of a novel.

Many young people today prefer watching television and using computer to reading. Educationists argue that parents and teachers should serve as models by reading and value reading culture.

[…] a literature teacher […] says he always reads the novels together with his students. But after reading, he ensures that they watch the movie.

“Students pay more attention to movies than during reading sessions in class. It also breaks monotony of appearing before them in class,” Kigongo explains.

“However, movies should not be allowed to replace novels or books […]

It is believed that access to more books leads to language and literacy development. These reading materials should arouse the children’s passion for reading.

They should have interesting topics, simple grammar and exciting diction to instill a love for reading.

This love cannot be forced upon any one; instead, it can be nurtured. …

The American Association of Pediatrics advises parents to read to their children right from a tender age.

When a child reads a book, for instance, it stimulates the brain, the muscles, eyes and sense of smell and touch through turning pages.

In addition, their cognitive, social and emotional abilities are improved.”

From: newvision.co.ug

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Why novelists love and hate Hollywood

“The private, personal goal of the novelist in Hollywood is to successfully adapt their best prose for the silver screen.

Hollywood income was money that compelled writers like Faulker, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Aldous Huxley to try their hands at screenwriting. But Fitzgerald had problems with the studio system of the 1930s because he virtually had no control over what happened to what he wrote. As an employee at MGM, he was just another scenario-writing cog in the massive machine … A screenwriter must relinquish a significant amount of control. The novelist, whose craft is largely defined by the vibrancy and specificity of detail, is naturally resistant to surrendering their right to micromanage.”

From: http://highbrowmagazine.com/1469-why-faulkner-fitzgerald-and-other-literary-luminaries-hated-hollywood

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Hollywood and war propaganda

“Propaganda soon became the industry rallying cry. As the US laid battle plans, Variety reported that film companies “dealing entirely with Uncle Sam’s preparations for war” were elated over the fact that the government was planning to review films “suitable to promoting the proper propaganda” for army and navy recruiting.

Political film censorship was rampant during this time.

This intense censorship climate was exacerbated by Wilson’s signing of the Espionage Act in June 1917, which attacked any forms of speech construed as critical of the war. Under such conditions, several film figures were arrested.

The most infamous and telling World War I film censorship case was the banning of the independent Revolutionary War picture The Spirit of ’76. Produced by Robert Goldstein (an original investor in Griffith’s 1915 pro-slavery blockbuster The Birth of a Nation), the feature became the center of government attacks after being suppressed by Chicago censors in May 1917, just a month prior to the signing of the Espionage Act. Although Goldstein regained control of the film for Los Angeles, Spirit of ’76 was soon confiscated by the Department of Justice and its producer charged with espionage.”


Something Red for Valentine’s Day

I thought it only fitting to pick something red on Valentine’s Day, so I went for Reds, Warren Beatty’s classic film. I remember watching it as a kid, and am happy to report that it holds its ground.

Fascinating roster of witnesses, some very high profile, and familiar names make this movie irresistible. At a time it came out, with Ronald Reagan on the throne, it was thought audacious of Beatty to release it and predictions of it falling into oblivion were quick to follow. Well, were they wrong! The movie is ranked among ten best.

It is about politics, but it has an important message that outlives any political strifes: hope, and what happens to people when hope dies and all that’s left is hype.