I must’ve read The Hobbit at least eleventy-one times as a young wannabe-Dúnedain but I still get a little shiver of excitement when I read the opening lines:
“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”
Can Peter Jackson’s upcoming film adaptation of Tolkein’s classic book do it justice? He recently announced that he’s splitting the book into three movies, allowing him to explore additional plotlines that only appeared in the Lord of the Rings’ appendices. Well, he seems to have created an action-packed first instalment, judging by the new trailer.
But is there enough material to warrant such a move without watering down the story? Let us know what you think!
Though touted by many as “the greatest novel ever written”, the truth is that Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina is a weighty tome, one that I’m ashamed to say I have yet to commit to reading. Nevertheless, its prevalence in popular culture means it is a tale that many will be familiar with – beautiful married socialite falls for dashing young Count in nineteenth century Russia, only to be ostracised from society for her adultery before descending into madness.
I was particularly intrigued to see this year’s big screen adaptation of the book (the latest in long line) since the director, Joe Wright, had done such a good job with Ian McEwan’s Atonement back in 2007. And while many filmgoers seem to have an unhealthy dislike for her, I was pleased to see Kiera Knightley as his leading lady once again, in a flawless performance as the tragic heroine. The cast choices in general are commendable, with an aged Jude Law in a convincingly broody performance as Anna’s cuckolded husband, Karenin, and Kickass star Aaron Taylor-Johnson (hiding his baby-faced looks behind – it has to be said – ridiculous facial hair) as Anna’s seducer, Count Vronsky. Period-drama stalwart Matthew MacFayden provides comedic relief as the womanising Stiva, brother of Anna, while Irishman Domhnall Gleeson’s turn as his friend, Kostya Levin, is most enjoyable, not least because his life as a rural landowner makes for a welcome change from the fast-paced theatrics of high society Russia.
Speaking of theatrics, you should be prepared, when going to see this film, to be completely baffled for at least the first quarter of an hour. You may find yourself wondering if you’ve inadvertently stumbled into a Moulin Rouge-esque musical. I was certainly unprepared for the theatrical setting, complete with revolving stages, painted backdrops and backstage ropes and pulleys. The idea seems to have been to literally ‘stage’ the film as if it were a play but, since scenes regularly switch between this theatre setting and real outdoor locations, it ends up feeling quite disjointed and takes a while to get used to. It nonetheless makes for an impressive visual spectacle.
Back to the story itself, I imagine that Shakespeare in Love penman Tom Stoppard’s screenplay only barely scrapes the surface of Tolstoy’s thousand-page tale. Anna spends more time worrying about society’s perception of her than she does about seeing her children, which I’m told is not the case in the original account. Little time is awarded to the wider political and cultural issues of the day, which we all know were of intrinsic concern to Tolstoy in all of his writings. But you can only expect so much from a two-hour film and in fairness, if you want to know the whole story, there’s always the book (which is in our Autumn/Winter 3 for 2 promotion). The movie poster promises “a bold new vision of the epic story of love” and there’s no denying that this is exactly what you get.
We’re pretty excited about the upcoming movie adaptation of Yann Martel’s 2002 Booker Prize-winning Life of Pi. Judging by this trailer, director Ang Lee has done a great job of bringing the story to the big screen.
If you haven’t already read the incredible tale of Pi Patel’s 227 days in a lifeboat – with a hyena, a zebra and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker – we recommend you do so before the movie is released on December 21st this year. Click here to find out more about the book.