18 July 2012

Books On Film

When books are turned into movies there are two possibilities: 1) The movie is a made into a separate artistic endeavor and can be viewed on its own merits; or 2) The film makers are too slavish to the text and the film ends up a needless retread that is only there to milk $ from the party faithful.

Could have been so good.

The 1986 film version of Umberto Eco's 1980 novel The Name of the Rose is an example where the film manages to stray just far enough. The novel is a basic whodunit set in an Italian monastery in 1327.  The novel is at its core a Sherlock Holmes book wearing robes. The plot involves several murders inside the walls of the monastery that are linked to a shocking mystery buried within the walls of the monk's library.

The movie involves Sean Connery as an Italian Monk and Christian Slater as his side-kick. Below is the first 9 minutes of the film. Just look at it. Really.


The book is darkly humorous and the movie manages to stray more into silly territory, but it works. If you're going to make this movie and make it borderline hilarious, put 007 in there. Just look at the poster:

"Who, in the name of God, is getting away with murder?" Indeed. That poster and the clip above do not really seem to go together. If I told you that this was a film where you see an under the legal age Christian Slater naked, where monks kill each other in gruesome and strange ways, where the plot hinges on Plato and a labyrinth...you would tell me I'm full of shit.

If I said that it was the little-known sequel to The Princess Bride, you'd believe me.

It's a shame that the film is no longer on Netflix streaming, but it is available on disc. I highly recommend a night in with it. And you should also read the book. It's quick, smart, and manages to keep you slightly in the dark to the outcome.

There are so many book films these days that it's hard to weed out the crap. What are some other book to film adaptations that you would endorse?