16 July 2013

Why film adaptations fail

EDIT: This particular answer on quora.com does a good job of describing why film adaptations usually disappoint readers: http://qr.ae/Ihtpz 

I recently watched To Kill A Mockingbird, the movie. Made two years after the book was written, the movie is Robert Mulligan’s take on the book. I was pleasantly surprised with the initial part of the movie. The first 45 minutes were wonderful. For all my dislike for film adaptations of popular novels, I loved these 45 minutes. Scout from the movie seemed very similar to Lee’s Scout; Jem was just as defiant; Dill was just as innocent and, Atticus was just as Atticus-y. 

But from that point on the movie, in my opinion, was a straight downhill ride. Tom Robinson’s court case is an important part of the book; but clearly, not the only part of the book. The film completely forgets Aunt Alexandra, Uncle Jack and many other things, which, contrary to popular opinion, are an integral part of the book. 

I was disappointed by a film adaptation yet again. Why is it that movies based on books always fail to impress the original readers? 

For example, every Harry Potter fan agrees to the fact that the movies are a very sad, sorry version of the books. They do a very poor job of conveying the complexity of the books. To a person who has only seen the movies, well, the good guy killed the bad guy and that is that. But for people who have read the entire series, there exists a long interval, which is filled with events, characters, and emotions. 

On a very fundamental level, I want the movie to stay true to the book. I want it to maintain every aspect down to the finest detail. I want the director to completely borrow the author’s vision. I want the movie to be a perfectly aligned track of the book. But that, rationally, can never happen.

Because basically, these movies strip down a book to its functional core, eliminate any part which doesn’t directly contribute to its understanding and then dramatize it. The worst bit is that the director enforces his creation onto viewers: his interpretation against that of the author, his imagination against those of the readers. I don’t want my image of the Great Hall tarnished by what someone else visualized it to be and I am sure others agree. The Atticus Finch in my head is not irritatingly pensive. A movie forces onto me its vision with an absolute air that is hard to shake off. Despite countless attempts, my mental Harry Potter resembles Daniel Radcliffe a bit too much for my liking. 

I know the simplest solution is that I choose not to watch further film adaptations of novels I enjoy reading. And that is why I am not watching The Fountainhead movie anytime soon.

12 July 2013

Wimbledon 2013

Thoughts post Wimbledon 2013:

I am a Federer fan. An all-out, no holds barred Federer fan. I sometimes wonder whether I follow tennis or whether I follow Roger Federer. So you can imagine my disappointment and my surprise when he lost in the second round at Wimbledon. Wimbledon, to me and to many others around the world, is the Holy Grail of tennis. It is tennis at its purest, sincerest and finest. Something about those grass courts, that dress code and the years of tradition brings out everyone’s best.

But before you knew what was happening, Federer lost in the second round. The unthinkable had happened. Before the first week was out, some of the finest names in the game were ousted by relatively obscure names. It has been called the ‘weird Wimbledon’ because of the sheer number of top guns who lost before the fourth round. I thought that probably this year, the Wimbledon was rigged. Could it be possible? But then, I rather have Federer lose than have Federer be accused of cheating. So, bad idea.

With my sole tennis hero being out of contention for the game’s finest honor, I was stupidly hoping that both Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic also lost. I mean, it was only fair: Nadal and Federer lose, so Murray and Djokovic should follow suit! A completely unexpected, new man wins. But that didn’t happen. Instead, we had them play the final.

I decided to support whoever swore less during the finals (see, I seriously am a hardcore Federer fan—I don’t know whom else to support in his absence!). So I watched the ‘Gentlemen’s Final 2013’ without supporting either players. I watched for tennis’ sake. I cheered whoever played better, which meant that I was praising both players’ shots and strategies. Oh, and for once, my brother and I didn’t fight during a Grand Slam final.

That, I realize, is the beauty of the game. One then begins to appreciate skill for skill’s sake; see sportsmanship in its purest and enjoy a game beyond its winners. The gates to the Centre Court are inscribed with lines from Rudyard Kipling’s historic poem: 

“If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same”. 

In today’s match, I felt that. I appreciated the pressure under which Murray played, with a constant reminder of 77 years of history. I appreciated Djokovic’s magnamity to praise Murray for handling this pressure and playing the way he did.

It is not just Wimbledon. Every game in its highest form exudes an aura of excellence, perfection and sportsmanship. It is just that today, in the absence of the compulsive habit to take sides did I appreciate it. So, as always, the Rolex ad has got it right: Wimbledon is where legends are made.

PS: No one can match Federer’s grace and dignity though. End of the day, it is peRFection for me!

As I post this I realize, that a lot remains same. The things I appreciated about Wimbledon last year are also what I do this year. I guess that's the thing with being one of the oldest tournaments!

11 July 2013

Wimbledon 2012

Thoughts post Wimbledon 2012:

Immaculate lawns, players in pristine whites, audiences at their finest and history at its tallest. Where else but for the Wimbledon Championships is this possible? As the most prestigious lawn tennis tournament enters its 136th year; it shows, as the ad goes, that there is more to the event that just prestige.

As the Rolex ad says, Wimbledon whites are more than just tradition, the green lawns more than just courts, games much more than wins and losses. What makes the Wimbledon so special can probably be demonstrated by drawing a parallel with the Ashes from cricket, the UEFA Championships from football, the NBA for basketball or just about every sport in its highest glory and spirit.

In its 136 years of existence since 1877 when there were just 22 people for the men’s draw, it has gradually established itself as a tournament which is titled as forever legendary. What makes it stand apart is the fact that in all these years not much has changed. The Queen of England still graces the All England Tennis Club with her presence, the whites remain, the grass courts are still kept the same and, spectators continue with their same strawberry and cream as they watch matches: the old charm is retained.

Only have the players changed from Rod Laver or Bjorn Borg or John McEnroe, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras or Roger Federer; or from Navratilova to the William sisters to Li Na. But the spirit of the game, the solemnity of the event, the sincerity of efforts, the beauty of the game, the weight of history remain, as inscribed in the gates to Centre Court with the lines

“If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same”.

Each game has its own Wimbledon, as in; every sport has one moment where who wins doesn’t matter, where playing precedes winning; where records are meant to be broken but the spirit of the game never is. And that is again what makes Wimbledon so great, the fact that it can translate into different games because at the end of the day it is greatness which is its hallmark, not a volley or blistering backhand.

It really doesn’t matter who won the finals on Sunday, because that is not what it is all about. Rather, it is like the Rolex ad:

When is greatness achieved?
Is it when you win your first tournament?
When you achieve a lifetime’s ambition
Or when you inspire others to be more
Or maybe when you ask yourself what is next?