adaptation

Yes, I like adaptations

And now for something completely different… Poetry adapted into movies. “How,” you ask, “does a poem have anywhere close to enough content for a movie?” Well, you haven’t been reading the right poetry. We’re talking narrative and imagery, not daffodils and brooks.

The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock is just bleak enough to be romantic without the sweet aftertaste. A Yale student Yulin Kuang has adapted it to a short YouTube clip. I like the poem, most of it, but the video seemed lackluster and too literal. But it’s worth a shot- being an English-as-a-second-language learner in school meant that I never really was exposed to any poetry more recent than the nineteenth century. It was nice to find that yes, there is poetry that is edgy and dark.

Aaaand now for our feature presentation. The Song of Lunch, featuring Alan Rickman. This is no joke. The talented Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson play middle aged ex-lovers in this BBC short based on a poem of the same name. I hadn’t heard of the poem before, but had a sneaking suspicion than Alan Rickman (may he rest in peace) would make a narrator to rival Morgan Freeman. In the wave of RIP Snape mania, I managed to find an undoubtedly illegal print on YouTube, and watched it immediately (thus procrastinating my homework for 50 minutes- instant gratification is my vice).

The first segment is hilarious- Rickman sneaks out of his office at lunchtime, with no intention of returning for several hours. Any cubicle-dweller will relate to the rush of adrenaline that comes when you take the first couple of steps out of the building without being spotted.

The story gets serious afterwards, though. Rickman has a date with an old flame, who ran away with a more successful man. He is clearly not over her, and tries to drown the initial nostalgia and disappointment in several glasses of red wine. Which does not end well.

Once again, I was surprised that poetry could be so, well, contemporary. This short reminded me of cynical indie movies with unpopular-geek protagonists, despite being a regretful poem about unrequited love. Rickman’s badass-ery might have had something to do with it.

Watch this. 4.5/5

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The Pursuit of Happyness

The world is your oyster. It’s up to you to find the pearls.

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Chris Gardner’s life is amazing, and boy, he writes about it soulfully in his book, The Pursuit of Happyness. A small part of this book was adapted into the very famous movie which goes by the same name.

There is no need for a plot summary of a book that’s made into a movie. But as a person who enjoys reading many folds more than watching a movie, I feel obligated to urge you to read this book if you liked the movie. You will love the book. The movie has a good deal of Hollywood to it –  for instance, the day-care for Chris Jr wasn’t as bad as they showed it to be in the movies. And the life of Chris Gardner as a child, which was fully skipped in the movie, is much more forceful than I’d expected.

There are pieces of the book that shocked me. But I was soothed by the way Chris handles his sticky situations. As a 13 year old he saw more hardship in life with the dexterity of a winner, than anyone I know has.

The fervor with which he yearns for a better life for his son and for himself (because Moms said he could) is so high pitched that goosebumps weren’t altogether unexpected.

I don’t usually use a pencil when reading fiction. But this book is an outlier. There were simply too many wise words that needed deep pondering, and which I intend to go back to. For instance, there’s this: “No one else can take away your legitimacy or give you your legitimacy if you don’t claim it yourself.“For anyone that has felt the pangs of self doubt and low self esteem, this should be like a breath of fresh air. And it was for me.

The Pursuit of Happyness is an easy read, but also an engaging one. It has made me happy. In my pursuit of happiness, I’m glad I was able to read this book on the way. 4/5

Retellings, a hundred years later

One of my all-time favourite books is Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery. Yes, it’s sappy and girly. SorryNotSorry.

“It doesn’t seem possible that the term is nearly over,” said Anne. “Why, last fall it seemed so long to look forward to–a whole winter of studies and classes. And here we are, with the exams looming up next week. Girls, sometimes I feel as if those exams meant everything, but when I look at the big buds swelling on those chestnut trees and the misty blue air at the end of the streets they don’t seem half so important.”

Quotes like that ought to make me cringe, but for some reason they seem genuine coming from an early 20th century teenaged girl.

Plot summary: Anne Shirley is a red-headed eleven year old bouncing around the foster system in Canada. Through a clerical error, she is adopted by Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, middle aged siblings who wanted a young boy to help with the farm. They decide to keep her anyway, and Anne is introduced to life in small town Avonlea (all this happens in Prince Edward Island, Canada- no, I don’t know where that is either). The rest of the novel describes her numerous mess-ups and college life.

This review isn’t about a 100-year-old book. It’s about a new social media adaptation of this classic. How I stumbled upon it is a story in itself. In the 1930s, a missionary from Canada gifted a copy of this book to a translator friend in Japan, who translated it to Japanese sometime during WW2. Thus, Anne has a special place in Japanese culture. Which means there’s an anime based on this story (no surprises there). I found out about this recently, and in the process of looking it up on YouTube, found Green Gables Fables, the aforementioned social media adaptation.

It’s pretty good, so far. Each character has his/her own Twitter/Tumblr profile, and Anne is an avid vlogger. Each incident gets a video or two, so the story is progressing quickly. As of the time of writing this post, the series is in its second season. The adaptation is very clever; for instance, Anne’s argument with an outspoken “aunty” prompts a rant on social media that’s seen by the aunty. An extremely apologetic YouTube video follows.

A lot of this stuff won’t seem as funny if you haven’t read the books- but if you have, definitely check this series out. 4.5/5 from me.