Sunday, 7 February 2010


As far as I know the film Avatar didn't stem from a book, but I discovered this week that six of the books in my limited library on my short bookshelf either have been or are soon to be, made into films. I wonder what that says about my taste in literature!

But, Avatar: what can I say! Saw the 3D version last week with Kirsten. We'd gone together in one car instead of separately in two, senior citizens mindful of our carbon footprints, only to find a parking fine stuck to the windscreen. A mishap, as we'd displayed our parking ticket wrong side up, in our haste to get into the cinema before the main film started.

Did that take the shine off the film? Well, we managed to put the incident aside temporally, and determined to appeal to the notoriously hard-hearted car cops later, before retiring back home for a restorative cuppa and an obituary verdict on the film. A box office record breaking success, and a great deal of critical acclaim preceded its actual viewing. So what did I make of it?

Forewarned as to the ear-shattering speaker volume I was about to encounter, I'd stuffed my ears with cotton wool. Nevertheless, it was intensely LOUD. I simply don't understand why the sound systems have to blast you out of your seats in order to impress you of their message these days. Yet, there's something there which echoes the way the film begins. A U.S military colossus launches itself into space all guns blazing, the terrifying might of its metal clad, death-dealing army aimed at the heart of a distant planet. We're told that this planet is dangerous beyond imagining; its flora and fauna toxic in the extreme, and its indigenous half animal-half human inhabitants must be subdued at all cost.

Sounds familiar? Well, we've all been here before! The Evil Empire, a projection, as psychologists say of that within ourselves which is too awful, or too painful to own, now, in this unspecified future, has shifted from planet Earth and transmogrified into outer space. Forewarned about the sound-system, I'd also come to it with memories of the last time I'd seen a 3D film, and prepared myself for flying missiles. Wasn't going to be caught out this time. However, things have come on greatly since the 60s red and green specs days. The new Real3D glasses could double as sun-specs and the CGI is stunning and literally breathtaking. I mean it hits you where it hurts. Everywhere! You certainly feel it, anyway. Senses are bombarded left, right and centre, and I was prepared for that. But I hadn't anticipated grace and subtlety. Certainly there was danger to be encountered here; primitive instinct and raw nature, red in prehistoric multi-toothsomeness and claw, yet it almost achieves an intelligent sensitivity and a shimmering sort of beauty. And, I detect, an attempt on the writer's part to enter imaginatively and with some feeling into the extraordinary and unknown possibilities of how life might have developed out there in the Great Elsewhere. Pity they had to resort to that newagey eurithmics session round The Big Tree.

But Coming Soon, though, I hope, will be the three books I mentioned on my shelf: a film version of Cormac McCarthy's The Road; Jose Saramago's Seeing (to be called Blindness, I'm told, although not to be confused with his book Blindness,) and finally, Alice Sebold's book, The Lovely Bones. Can't wait to see what they've made of those.

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