Today's podcast is about getting older, and what a surprise it is:

I also wanted to thank everyone who responded to the "Movies that Trump the
Book" Top Ten. I got a ton of mail, before and after. To those who aren't on
my regular mailing list I sent the following, below, and now take today's
mailing to send it to you too.

<<Thanks to all of you who wrote to me about movies that are "better than
the book."  I think I've caught all the things that needed to be corrected
or clarified, and the new version is on my website here:

I've asked my editor at National Review to also replace the earlier version
with the update, but she is very overworked and it could take a while for
her to get to this.

probably the first thing I needed to correct was to make it clear that I was
compiling opinions that came in, not necessarily expressing my own opinion.
I have not screened and read every title on the list.

many people wrote to tell me that "Blade Runner" is based on a novel, not a
short story; thanks, I've corrected that. They also told me the name of
Dick's novel is "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" I had decided to
leave the title out of the article and just refer to it as written by Dick
because the piece was already swarming with titles.

Most controversial, naturally, was the listing of the Lord of the Rings
trilogy. A lot of people felt that the movies are better than the books,
which is how it came in 8th on the list. I don't agree with the consensus of
the group every time, but I did this time, and I'm afraid we do have to just
let this be a difference in taste.

One explanation of how the books could be works of genius yet not be
universally charming as *stories* is that what Tolkein was really most
excellent at was world-building. The thoroughness of his Middle Earth, the
"backstory" so to speak, is an accomplishment unequalled in any work of
literature that I know. But, personally, I think that accomplishment is
superior to the *writing*--again, my taste (and that of many other
respondents). That's how the magnificent thing Tolkien developed could be
brought to life in a different medium and arguably outshine his own work.

There were definitely things in the book that didn't work as well in the
movie, and the tendency of spectacle to overshadow other parts of the story
is a genuine problem. Still, overall, I prefer the movies, and I just tune
out during the battle scenes.

I think too that my experience of reading the books aloud in one-hour
segments, without the presence of a responding audience, is probably the
worst way to encounter any book. It's an endurance test, like putting an
aircraft in a wind tunnel. In that context, Narnia just stood up better.
When I went in to read every week, I looked forward to it more. Narnia
remained more interesting, and felt more like a *story*, somehow.

<<Some authors have terrific ideas, but don't express them at the acme of
perfection. >> one person asks, did I mean to say "zenith"? I'm afraid I
don't grasp the difference.

"here's another one" -- of course I listed only 10 out of about 130 movies
suggested, so there were plenty with fewer votes that had to go unnamed. In
my mail these last few days there have been recommendations in particular of
*Ben Hur, East of Eden, Jurassic Park, Shane, The Quiet Man, Mary Poppins,
Lawrence of Arabia, The French Lieutenant's Woman, Iron Giant, The Man Who
Shot Liberty Valance, *and *Touch of Evil.

*From the Kubrick list I've deleted *2001*, because the book was written
more or less simultaneously with the filming, and *Lolita* because it better
belongs in the "just as good as the book" category. I did get many
recommendations for that group, but didn't mention many of them because the
article was already too long.

There's an interesting theory that a so-so book makes a better movie than a
great book does; I think there's some validity to that.

The last line was meant to be a joke; the book would be, of course, the
Bible. I probably should have chosen "The Ten Commandments" instead.

a couple of people felt that the Caspian book is better than the movie. They
were well outnumbered, but stuck to their guns.

In case you are interested, here is my review of "The Lion, The Witch, and
National Review a few years ago, and a piece back then for
focusing on the movie's theology

thanks again for your help!>>

Frederica Mathewes-Green
Frederica-l mailing list
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