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Friday, March 26, 2021

Reviving An Age-Old Question

The recently released film version of White Tiger, based on Aravind Ariga's coruscating debut novel, is a perfect place to revive an age-old question: Which movies would you nominate as equals to their namesake books? (In my view, Jaws stands as that rarest of animals, a film surpassing its namesake.)

After finishing White Tiger five years ago, it took weeks for me to begin writing a blog post about it. As I further processed what I'd read, mundane words often used to describe a reading experience felt inadequate. How to begin describing an amoral murderous narrator, who also happens to be someone you're rooting for? How to recommend something undeniably funny, but saturated with world-weary cynicism and set in a soul-crushing environment? I'm faced with a similar dilemma after watching the film.  

Reflections From The Bell Curve: When "I Liked It" Doesn't Pass Muster

Will you "like" this movie? Beside the point, just as it was with the book. Will you remember it? I believe you will. This lifelong movie geek is grateful for one trend in modern cinema, personified by White Tiger: Actors that accurately mirror ethnic groups from source material. Because, though I revered Paul Newman, casting him as a Native American in Hud was dumb. And don't get me started on Glenn Close, Jeremy Irons, and Meryl Streep - all immensely talented - as Chileans in House of the Spirits. Really? You may not recognize a single face in White Tiger. But they are the right faces for a story set in India. And, in my view, a film equal to its namesake.  


7 comments:

  1. I read the book several years ago and it was an impactful emotional journey. I agree that a movie of this book could only be done with Indian actors. I look forward to seeing it soon. And, I learned a new word today: coruscating!

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    1. Ines; I'm rarely surprised when you tell me you've read a book I've blogged about; you're as much of a bookworm as I! And I'm thrilled I exposed you to a new word; that made my day. Thanks for the comment.

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    2. I just went through my (length) list of books read and books recommended and came across a movie made from a book that I thought was pretty good: Room.

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    3. Ines; I agree; I loved Emma Donoghue's harrowing book and thought the film did justice to the novel. Thanks for reply to my reply.

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  2. Thanks Pat for another time travel, rabbit hole into which I can happily descend. "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold" by John le Carre's was expertly transferred to film and starred Richard Burton. Burton was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar and won the BAFTA Best Actor award in 1966. A guilty pleasure, I freely admit, since I read the novel as part of my mother's Reader's Digest Book of the Month Club subscription. Maybe not enduring great literary art but a solid entertaining piece which at the time was so reflective of the cynical machinations of the cold war era. The novel went on to win several important mystery awards and was very well received by critics. The film adaptation was very faithful to novel right down to the somber final scene at the Berlin wall. Very un-Hollywood fare for the swinging 60's. It really captured the sub-text of dread and uncertainty abroad in the world at large. Thank God for the counterbalancing sense of joy and change represented by the early years of the Beatles.

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    1. Hey Steve; Thanks for comment. Since I neither read the book nor saw the film, I cannot comment on how the film fared next to its source material. But, thanks to your endorsement, it's on my radar. It so happens that I own the book (!), so, if history is any guide, I'll read it first, then look out for the film. And then we'll have a chat.

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    2. Thanks Steve for memories of Berlin after The Wall was put up. I was an exchange student there from 1963-1964 - two years after The Wall was erected. It was very "present." One day I walked into a classroom and someone had written "Yay Beatles!!!" on the blackboard. Those were scary times but had their good moments as well. Bride of Spies captures similar Cold War themes and was I thought well done.

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