Quite often it is the case with me that a hint of prejudice surfaces inside my mind as I am watching a film that has been adapted out of or is based on or is loosely based on or (depending upon how risk averse the producers of the film in question are) is inspired by a previously published and well received piece of literature. It could be a work of creative non-fiction, a fiction novel, novella or, as is the case here, a short story picked up from a collection of short stories.
The prejudice that I am referring to does not mark its entry into my head with an explosion like that of a nuclear detonation in the exact centre of a deserted piece of arid tract that has been left unoccupied for good reason; unless the person detonating wants to have a view of something more dreadful than the sudden burst of white fumes going up in the air, forming a dark cloud over the spot followed by a blast of hot chemical air rushing in all four directions from where the bomb that detonated so successfully was buried beneath dry soil; unless the man observing from his place in the dugout of cement sacks stacked against each other a few safe miles away from the spot with a pair of binoculars stuck on his eyes, cap on his head and cigar in his mouth. . . the man who decides on whether civilians are to be informed of the testing beforehand or be left to fend for themselves. . . the big man, just so happens to enjoy the sight of skin melting away from unwary faces and finds the view of flesh and bone thawing, dissolving into thin air like a block of camphor set on fire to be spectacular and exciting and maybe even a tiny bit arousing.
The prejudice that I am referring to does not make itself visible with so much of blatancy.
It is more like the pus that oozes out of a wound that has felt squishy and moist for hours together before the ultimate rupture and the subsequent trickle of fluid actually begins, silent and ignored, lest you reach out to it with an unsuspecting thumb and wince with disgust.
The prejudice that I am referring to is slow in its entrance and takes its sweet time before you become aware finally that your thoughts and views are marred by it so much so that your judgement of the film just watched is most probably flawed and biased.
Quite often it so happens that despite being aware of the presence of this prejudice (that I have explained to the audience well enough and to such squeamish effect), I find myself feeling foolishly confident that I am right in my view and that the film was mediocre or at best average.
Unfortunately, my brain stops there instead of going ahead and accurately completing the sentence as- the film was mediocre BECAUSE I KEPT COMPARING IT WITH THE BLOODY BOOK AND HOW COULD IT SEEM ANYTHING BUT MEDIOCRE WHEN ALL THAT I KEPT DOING WAS REPLACING THE VERSION THAT I HAD IMAGINED WHILE READING THE BOOK WITH THE VERSION THAT I GOT TO SEE ON VIDEO.
I believe it is due to this prejudice that many of us, like myself, fail to differentiate between the power of wordage and the power of audio-visual media, the former being far more subjective in its interpretation than the latter. We end up critiquing a film not on the basis of its individual merits but merely on the basis of how it is similar to or differs from the plot and the setting and the characterization that could be imagined while reading the original work.
And thus, it was one fine day that a friend of mine, bugged by the same issue, suggested an idea that might assist in doing away with this prejudice towards different formats of story-telling employed for the same story. He opined and I agreed that a collaborative post was in order, the two contributors critiquing separately on one format each without even slightly resorting to any form of comparison between the two. That way, it is left to the audience and not the prejudiced mind of a reader-turned-viewer to make out how similar and different, book and film are, the ultimate quest to achieve here for the contributors being-
‘Doing justice to well-executed content, original or adapted’.
The post that follows is the first of what I would like to be many such collaborative posts.
As is evident from the fact that I prefer books over films, I will be reviewing the former whereas my friend, a self-proclaimed movie buff, will cover the latter in his blog (will post the link alongwith my review for your consideration).
PS: 1408 is one of the best horror genre short stories that I’ve read till date.