Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Motorcycle Diaries

Watching the movie adaptation of famous literary works have always disappointed me. Barring a few, I always found the experience of reading the book , is far superior and fulfilling to watching the film.

I wonder why. There could be multiple reasons. It could be my limitations...

When I read a book, I give the characters shape according to my understanding and likeliness. The places , people , the atmosphere, time are filled in automatically as per my requirement to give me a sense of being part of the plot. I dictate the tone, the voices to the wording given by the author, I dress them up. I have already visualized the physical , mental , emotional part of the character. I give them the shades of goodness and badness.

If the films does justice to this, that is , to my way of visualizing the novel, I come out satisfied. More often than not, it happens on the contrary.

What we see in the cinematic version of the book is the directors version of the understanding. It is his visualization of the book we get to see. It is his experience, and interpretation. They seldom match at the first time. I'm not suggesting that it is in correct. If you haven't read the book, you might still like it.

Reading a book, thus, become a personal experience. This is guided by multiple factors. It is your experience, your gender, your place of birth and being, your age, your knowledge and education , your growth as a reader ( yes, reading the same book at different ages of your life gives you very different perspective). While cinematic version of popular fiction could be less complicated ( and we are not discussing them), the literary genre fiction for adaptation will be challenging.

Watching "The motorcycle Diaries" made me think in these lines. This movie for one, gave me a very different view. I did not like the book form of "The motorcycle diaries". Yes I understand that it was written when 'Che' was 20 yrs old and was a medical student. Yes , he was in his early ages of his short life, and this journey has helped him in his progression as a revolutionary as they say ; but it failed as a literary work for me. May be, I had high expectations from a 20yr old writer. May be it was Che Guevara's book to me than a medical students diary and letters. But the film was a different story altogether. It impressed me , for its stunning visuals, for its beautifully crafted screen play and dialogues. for its characterization. There aren't many instances where I have liked the adaptation of fiction into movies. The last I remember (as I liked )was "Il Postino" , adaptation of the book written by Antonio Skarmeta.

There are cases where I was impressed with a movie and bought the original fiction. One of the recent such case was "Red Shorgum" by Mo Yan.

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