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June 13, 2008

Book and Movie Pairings

Posted by carol
What happens when a movie isn't as discussion-worthy as the book it's based on? Contributor Heather Johnson's group recently found out...

My book club met this past weekend to discuss The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Usually I'd have lots of questions prepared and our discussion would last for hours...but not this time. Instead we opted for a very brief discussion of the book leaving us with lots of time to watch the movie.

When I say brief discussion, I really do mean brief discussion. We agreed that the book was excellent --- well written story, realistic characters --- talked about our favorite passages, mentioned the current situation in Afghanistan and we were done. It took maybe 20 minutes.

As soon as we started the movie we realized there was a problem --- subtitles! I don't know about you, but watching a subtitled movie requires my undivided attention. When you take twelve women who don't see each other often and put them in a room together you can't expect them to be quiet, now can you?! The movie seemed to have a secondary soundtrack that went something like this: "Turn it up --- I can't hear anything!" "That's because you're supposed to be reading the subtitles." "Now it's too loud, turn it down a bit." "What are they talking about?" "Can someone get the cat off the couch?!" "Did you catch what he just said?" "Who's that guy again?" "I need a blanket." "Are you crazy, it's so hot in here!" "Wait, are they in Afghanistan or Pakistan now?" and so on, with an undercurrent of whispered conversations completely unrelated to the movie or the book. And yes, I'll admit that I was one of the guilty parties.

We did watch the movie, really. Unfortunately some of the most powerful scenes in the book were left out completely (example? the part with Sorhab and the bathtub --- enough said) and many supporting characters (like the General) were very underdeveloped. This makes sense from a movie standpoint, but it was just no comparison to the book. ~Sigh. ~

This isn't the first time we've paired a book and a movie. Way back in the beginning of our club we read and watched East of Eden. Boy, was THAT a disappointment; the movie focused on only a small portion of the book, leaving out much of what made the book so amazing.

I guess it's normal to have a not-so-focused book club meeting once in a while. On the bright side, our hostess (my sister) made delicious beef/chicken/veggie kabobs and we enjoyed getting together. And everyone is looking forward to our July meeting because we'll be having D.L. Wilson, the author of Unholy Grail, join us for the very first time --- I can't wait!

Here's my question: Are there any successful book and movie pairings out there?! My club certainly hasn't found them, but maybe yours has. Please enlighten me!

---Heather Johnson