“Why should people pay good money to go out and see bad films when they can stay home and see bad television for nothing?” Samuel Goldwyn
I don’t go out to see movies very often. Once upon a time, in the long ago days before I had children and before I understood how rare a truly well-told story is, I went to the movies almost once a week! The only trouble is that most movies just didn’t tell stories as well as the books I read, and, gradually, I lost interest. That said, I did enjoy last year’s book-into-film portrayal of Charles Portis’s True Grit. As with a well-written book, well-written films are few and far between. I now save my free time only for movies I really think I’ll enjoy. As you may have guessed from my bookish background, I like to see books that are developed into films. Too often, though, the adaptations don’t translate well to film. I recently learned about three “literary” films, based on books or authors that are coming soon to a theater near you. The trailers are interesting, but we’ll reserve judgment as to what the actual films are like when they are released.
The first is an adaptation of Herge’s Tin Tin books. The books themselves are great fun. Written in a colorful, comic book style and depicting the adventures of a young reporter turned detective, Herge’s series of books take its readers on adventures all over the world with a very entertaining cast of characters.
I am optimistic about this film, and here’s why: My own sons, Tom and Huck are, sadly, not (yet) enthusiastic readers. Oh, they can and do read just fine. It’s just that they don’t often seem to enjoy any of the current books written for their age group. I must say, after reading a few of today’s books written for boys age 10-13, I rather agree with the boys that most of them are rubbish. As for the “classics,” one hazard of being the sons of an antiquarian bookseller and former English teacher is that your mother is always shoving the classics down your throat and, while admitting to the superiority of the writing and storytelling, you reject them out of hand because your mom says you should be reading them. There are a few exceptions to this in our house, of course, and one series of books which Tom and Huck have long been ready, willing, and eager to read is the Tin Tin books. They offer a lot of what young boys might like: crazy characters, exotic locales, treasure hunting and adventure, and lots and lots of illustration.
I was pleased and excited to find out that Steven Spielberg (who seems to take great joy in directing adventure films — Raiders of the Lost Ark) and Peter Jackson (who did a pretty good adaptation of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings a few years ago) are teaming up to produce this animated feature and to introduce Tin Tin to a new generation. I have my doubts about books being adapted into films, but if anyone could do justice to Tin Tin, it’s these two. Here’s the trailer:
Spielberg also has a hand in another book-into-film being released at Christmas. War Horse, based on the book of the same title by Michael Morpurgo.
Last but not least comes The Raven, featuring none other than John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe. I enjoy John Cusack as an actor, but I can’t really imagine him as Edgar Allan Poe. We’ll see how the final film is.
In any case, it’s nice to see Hollywood paying an extra bit of attention to books these days. Books provide the best content, hands down!
See you in the stacks!