Thursday, April 17, 2008

Book: A Room with a View

PBS's Masterpiece Theater has inspired my reading of a couple of books in the last few months. The first was Persuasion, which I read before I watched the recorded version on my Tivo. The second was A Room with a View, which I watched before reading.

A note on the 2007 film: The screenplay was adapted by Andrew Davies, famous for adapting such movies as the 1995 Pride & Prejudice miniseries and Bridget Jones Diary. I wasn't familiar at all with the book, written by E.M. Forster, or the 1985 film starring Helena Bonham Carter and Maggie Smith. So to discover that there were great liberties taken in adapting the book for this recent movie was rather surprising. After completing the movie, I read the book, and am now working on the 1985 film version. This recent version was given an entire additional storyline that created a completely different feel than that which was intended by the author. That being said, I enjoyed the PBS version. It wasn't amazing, but being unfamiliar with the story, it was entertaining.

I greatly enjoyed the book and read it in two days. I had never read anything by Forster, but now imagine that I will read other books he has written. This was an excellent love story, as well as an interesting commentary on society at the turn of the 20th century. It is an easy and quick read. However, few of the characters are truly likable, but probably only because Forster writes them so realistically, that the have real character flaws.

As far as the 1985 film version goes, I have to say I didn't find that Julian Sands fit the description of George Emerson in the book. He seemed to feminine and all I could think of was George McFly (I preferred the bumbling youth of Rafe Spall in the 2007 film version), and he seems very old to be acting the way he does. Daniel Day Lewis was hysterical as Cecil Vyse. I don't know why I am surprised. He consistently acts his roles so intensely that I forget who the actor is. He plays such a snotty city boy, looking down his nose at the "country folk."

All in all, I recommend the book, then the older movie, then the newer one. All have their good points.

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