Sunday, 16 December 2012

Never judge a book by its movie - J. W. Eagan

It’s very cold here now. The snow’s gone but it’s cold nevertheless. And grey. Very winter-like. I am so not complaining. I love the winter. It’s the most romantic of seasons in my book.

Chunky clothes, comfort food, vin chaud.  Bracing walks, visions of snow-filled fields and sparkly lights everywhere. The days dragging themselves awake and scurrying back under the covers almost as quickly.  Seriously romantic.

All you need is a little Ella in the air, a good book in the hand, and winter is truly a delight.  On days like this, one of my greatest joys is starting and finishing a book in one afternoon. Indeed, I’ve just had one of my more perfect days. Cuddled up to two (very warm) cats, sipping some steaming coffee, and said music filling my flat, I read Edith Wharton’s The Old Maid. Not a romantic read in the traditional sense, for sure. More tragic, really. Although the profound beauty of a mother’s love is never far from real romance. Self-sacrifice, lost love, pure misery.  It’s all there.
Of course, I couldn’t help but read the whole with Betty Davis in mind. I don’t normally watch a film before reading the book.  Possibly for this reason.  In this case, I only recently realised the link between the two.

I cried hard at the end, even though I knew what would happen. Inspired by such sacrifice. In awe of the lengths one human being can go to for another. True romance.
I never cried so hard watching the film.  It moved me, but nothing more.  And it turns out to have been a fairly faithful rendering of the book. Although I’m not sure Betty Davis could ever be as plain as Charlotte was meant to be. Still I insist with my bah humbug about film renderings of books. 
Films lack the sparkle a book inspires in my head. Reading is such a personal thing. Your own imagination is allowed to – indeed encouraged to – give free rein to its fullest capacity. I don't doubt that a film-maker wants to reproduce his/her own imagined version of the book.  But essentially such banalities as time, money and sales will always take priority. And are always guaranteed to dull the sparkle of imagination.
I'm certainly not anti-cinema.  Just a cautious film buff.  I saw Skyfall.  And I loved it.  Even though I saw it in French. Dear ole James. It was delightful. On so many levels. I will of course have to go back and see him, I mean it, in English. To get the real romance of it all.
Now there's a book I’ve never read.  OO7.  Ian Fleming. I don't know if I could after all this time. But who would I think of, I wonder, if I did? Mmm a nice dilemma to mull over on a cold winter's night...


  1. Bette Davis makes me cry like no one does! I never realized that film is based on an Edith Wharton book which is a tragedy because I love Edith Wharton! What a lovely post!

  2. You've been nominated!

    1. Thanking you kindly! I've done the biz. V interesting initiative :0)