Monday, March 31, 2008
The coolest thing was that this was mostly out of the blue writing. I've written nothing on this story for nearly three weeks, and the last session was a couple hundred words or so, that's it. But I got about 700 words last night, and tonight, another couple thousand and that was that. Story over.
Now, of course, it needs some major revisions, mostly to flesh things out, but I'm very happy with it overall. It's solid action and suspense and strategy and... tanks! Did I mention the tanks? Dig it. (train dodge) For such a small story, I packed a lot into it. I'm not sure it ever lets up.
And amazingly, I don't think it'll take long to do the second draft either; everything's there and in place. It's just a matter of immersing in the characters and running with it.
This is all build-up to kicking into gear on the second half of the POW novel. I worked out the next couple of scenes in it, so I'm basically ready to go on it. This just makes me bounce up and down in my chair. Cuz being stuck on it just sucked. Now, I haven't solved my bigger dilemmas, but each step forward might take me closer to the answer I'm looking for
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
I just finally watched it again yesterday. The beginning was nearly exactly as I remembered it, Stephen Boyd as handsome and ruthless as I remembered, and then the main titles kicked in, and what I found I really remembered was the music. I couldn't have sung it to you in the interim years, but it was sitting there lurking in my memory ready to be recalled.
The rest of the film came back as I watched. Mostly Boyd's sections, naturally. He's always had a very special place in my heart. But I'd completely forgotten both Telly Savalas and Eli Wallach was in it. Eli Wallach amused me greatly. "Somehow I don't feel they've come to surrender." LOL! Unsurprisingly, I'd forgotten almost entirely about the girl. I remembered her at the end, standing by Genghis Khan, but that was about the extent of it. Didn't even remember the violence around her. This is one of the few movies I liked Omar Sharif in. The movie was still entertaining, had some good parts, beautiful scenery, great costumes, but was a bit shallow and bloated.
What surprised me the most, is that I've had a scene in my head, that's been associated with this movie forever -- and it wasn't in this movie. Er...um... if it's not here, where is it?
It was a rather gruesome scene. I've sort of always been cursed with having movie death scenes stay with me. Some of them scar me for life (like The Green Berets), some just sort of linger with me (like Lawrence of Arabia) and when I can't tell you anything else about the movie, I can tell you about those deaths. I thought Genghis Khan was one of those films. I distinctly remember at the end of the movie, them laying rug/blankets over a man and then riding horses over him until he was broken and dead. And I remember my mom saying how difficult it was to get horses to step on things. I couldn't actually remember who it was who got trampled -- I vaguely assumed over the years that it had to be Stephen Boyd, even though that never felt quite right. Which means that nasty trample death is in some other movie. Hmph. So much for my memory! Maybe it's from some forgotten Western? Or another historical epic?
Sunday, March 02, 2008
Now I've wanted to see the movie since high school, mostly because the title fascinated me (seemed very illicit and Grown Up) and I knew it was WWII, and that fascinated me. Now, having read the book, I'm not so sure. I mean 90% of the book is people's thoughts and feelings. It's what's so good about the book (and also what made it so hard to read in anything but small doses -- it's hard being that close in someone's head through those kind of circumstances). How do you turn that into a movie? Without the thought processes, the actions become meaningless, the motives lost, the friendships that come and go in mere moments pointless. I mean really, this books takes 700+ pages to cover the set up and one patrol up a mountain and back. And there's also the flashbacks into each character's life before the war, from childhood to enlistment/drafted/whatever. You can't do that well in a movie.
SPOILERS from here down!!
Then coincidentally, I found this today in an unrelated search: Naked and the Dead movie snippet. Now that just makes me sigh. It's all wrong. The whole scene on the mountain staircase is riveting and shocking in the book, but they changed some key points for the movie and completely lost the charge from it. And, ahem, I see Hollywood can't bear to kill off a major character with one shot, dead and gone. Noooooo, they have to swap characters around instead. Grrrr. So, what happens to Wilson in the movie? He was far more interesting than Hearn ever was anyway. And that's one of the big problems here. They've clearly set up Croft as the "bad guy" and Hearn as the "good guy." Cuz Hollywood needs heroes and villains. It can't deal with a squad of guys who all get equal page time, who all have good and bad traits, each character as important as the next regardless of his rank. Noooo, that won't work in Hollywood.
I particularly don't like it because Croft was my favorite character, the one I most related to in the book. Naturally, he's not a bad guy to me. Sure, he's tough, he's ruthless, but that's only parts of him. To simply categorize him as a a nasty son of a bitch (which is clearly how he's being played in the movie) doesn't show the motivating factors, the fears and doubts, the fact that he can freeze in battle like the next man and how it haunts him, what completing a mission means. It doesn't show how close to collapse he is himself. He's very human.
When I read the book, Hearn was the guy I didn't like. He was arrogant and complacent at the same time, lacked the necessary experience. Exactly the kind of man I do not want leading a recon squad behind enemy lines. If Croft had led the patrol from the beginning, there would have been a different outcome.
What makes the book work so well is the non-judgmental contrast between the two men (all the men, really -- the characters are what make this book amazing), and how throwing a guy like Hearn into an established squad changes all the dynamics, undermines discipline, etc. But Hollywood can't do that, not easily.
I'll still watch this film if it ever comes to DVD, because I'll want to see just how much more they screw up. And I'll also want to see if Aldo can save any of the book's version of Croft in the movie version.