[KB] Housekeeping

Edappel8@cs.com Edappel8 at cs.com
Wed May 14 18:05:05 EDT 2008

       It's great to hear from David Thomas again.  I, for one very much 
appreciated, and appreciate, his learned contributions to our conversation.

       As for how reflective of a novel the film or video version is depends 
on the film and the novel.  I saw the Gregory Peck Moby Dick during its first 
run in 1956.  At the time, I hadn't yet read the novel.  I was stunned by the 
story.  I returned to the theater---it happened to be only a few blocks from 
where I lived at the time---a day or two later for a second look.  Since then, 
I've viewed the movie, in addition, many times over.  I think this version is 
excellent, considering its short length.  It captures a great deal of the pith 
and marrow of Melville's thesis, but it still leaves out way too much for a 
more-than-superficial student of this saga of the sea.

       I saw some of the Patrick Stewart Moby Dick on TV a decade or so ago.  
I didn't think it was as good as the Peck/John Huston original.  (Original?  
There may well have been a Moby Dick back in the silent era.  The Ben Hur of 
the mid-'20s was a heck of an epic film, too, as well as the one with Charlton 

       A year ago I was obsessed with the novel Jane Eyre, after seeing the 
recent BBC production on PBS, and reading the text.  I think that video version 
is definitive, most effectively reflective, of the novel itself.  Last summer 
I went back to Moby Dick, the text, and you know what kind of obsessons that 
rereading led to.  Now I'm into Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice, after 
having seen this year's series on PBS, and having bought the DVD of the movie 
Becoming Jane.  I've purchased and viewed the 2005 movie (a readers digest 
treatment of P&P, I dare say) and the 1995 BBC series with Jennifer Ehle and Colin 
Firth.  (I've seen it through, 4 1/2 hours worth, four times so far.)  There's 
so much dialogue in P&P that a film version faithful to the text is much more 
readily at hand than is the case with a strongly philosophically flavored, 
descriptively dense, narrative like Moby Dick.

       Anyway, as an article in the Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen says, 
P&P has a "beautifully intricate," virtually "perfect" plot.  I can hardly 
imagine a more superb production of this classic than that BBC version.  The 
video with Ehle, Firth, et al., gives one a quite faithful rendition of the book 

       Conclusion on firm versions: It depends on the book and the film.  The 
Great Gatsby is a small masterpiece of a novel.  The Robert Redford film, 
most critics noted at the time, did not capture the illusive world of the book, a 
narrative possibly beyond the reach of a filmed representation.

       David suggests our developing further our back-and-forth on melodrama, 
etc., from a Burkean slant, or any other.  I have a feeling we haven't heard 
the last on that topic.  I'm quite impressed with Greg Desilet's brilliance 
and tenacity.  He is a veritable tiger-by-the-tail.







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