I watched Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy last night – the film with Gary Oldman not the TV series with the wonderful Alec Guinness. I found the DVD in the remaindered section at Tesco and despite early misgivings born of experience thought it was worth a punt at a fiver.
As with many films of books I really love – it was a huge disappointment. I felt like a wet weekend afterwards and I had no choccy or popcorn to take away the pain – I’m on yet another expedition to discover the lost territory of the waistline.
It doesn’t help that I’m a very visual reader and have scenes and characters already mocked up so it’s the mismatch between the film of the book that’s running in my head and the by-blow that appears on the screen that causes a critical running commentary:
“That’s not right; it didn’t happen like that in the book; she would never have said that line in that way” and so on.
It’s not that I’m asking for scene by scene, word by word accuracy. I accept that the media are different and the audiences too.
It’s just the crassness of it all sometimes. For example, in TTSS here we have a double-agent, a mole who is virtually invisible as a character throughout the whole film until his unmasking when we are asked to accept him as a key character yet learn nothing of his motives – the reasons for betraying his country and comrades that are fundamental to the plot. There again…what plot? It’s absence was greatly lamented.
I wonder whether, with films of the classics, the more complicated yet still comprehensible language of the age is thought to be some sort of barrier to understanding? Do the long words and precision of speech have to be over-simplified and “modernised” for the audience? No, we’re not idiots who don’t know the difference between the 18th and 21st centuries. Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility pulls it off wonderfully well without recourse to kindergarten-land. It is one of my fave classics that has translated well.
I could go on, but I won’t because now I can feel a diatribe about remakes of classic films coming on. I mean why would anyone want to make a remake of The Italian Job or…
I’m off to pick up a paintbrush.