Mediocre books make better movie adaptations than great books.

This was pretty much the point I was going to make in my earlier post. I would quibble with No Country for Old Men only because I think it is actually McCarthy’s worst book and the one that felt the most like a movie adaptation waiting to happen. I’d also point out the several and various Jane Austen adaptations and that Pride and Prejudice seems to be made into a decent movie every decade and it is also probably her best book. (Perhaps a Northanger Abbey film will win an Oscar?)

I’d also quibble with Shakespeare’s works being turned into good movies since they were not books in the first place but were meant to be performed. (On a side note, wasn’t it weird that Kenneth Branagh was nominated for a best screenplay Oscar for Hamlet?)

But the general point is the same that mine was going to be and I can’t believe that I had never seen it made until today even thought I’d been meaning to write it for about a year now. Oh well, I beat the general idea by a few days.

I’ll take the opportunity now to predict that Blood Meridian by McCarthy, one of the best books I’ve ever read, will either be a disaster on the screen or be an okay movie that should probably have a different title than the book it will be based on. It is pure novel. The story is good, but the story alone would have made the book unreadable. It is the transcendent prose and the singular imagination of a virtuoso writer that makes the book Blood Meridian. Once it is taken away from its proper medium it will no longer be the same entity. I felt the same way about the Road and I feel somewhat vindicated since the transcendent book will be all but forgotten as a film in a few years (though I haven’t seen the movie. I figured, why bother? I’d experienced it in its almost perfect form as a book.).

I also feel the same way about the Moviegoer, Confederacy of Dunces, Middle Passage, and Invisible Man. What would be the point of it? I can see why someone would want to portray Ignatius or the Judge and why others might want to play Binx Bolling or the protagonist to Invisible Man, but playing those characters is different than putting those stories in an alien medium. I won’t begrudge a filmmaker from trying, but I think it a fool’s errand.

That being said, I will try and see Scorcese’s interpretation of Silence by Endo if only because I’m curious. I think he might be up for it even though he seems to have lost his fastball in recent years. Perhaps I’m also giving him the benefit of the doubt because I’ve not read Silence in Japanese and have not experienced the book in its pure manifestation.

Update: I just checked IMDB and Scorsese’s site no longer has him making Silence and that the book no longer seems to be in production. That’s probably a good thing, I suppose.


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