Sunday, June 27, 2010

DISGRACE


DISGRACE, by J.M Coetzee was a book I greatly admired. It's the story of a disgraced English professor in South Africa, whose humiliation only begins with his near rape of a student. He is unable to protect either himself or his daughter in the story that follows. It is a marvelously complex and brave novel that puts an unlikable person in harm's way and watches him squirm--and yet conveys some humanity in him. His daughter is complicated, too, and her decisions are not easy to understand. The situation in South Africa is likewise enigmatic to us. I didn't see how all this "complexity" could be captured on film.

And yet it is and by an actor I have no great liking for. Only someone like John Malkovich could bring the preposterous level of arrogance necessary to the story to the screen. It is beautifully, if bleakly, filmed.

Sometimes a film is as good as the book. What ones are the best?

14 comments:

Ron Scheer said...

I read the book years ago and recently saw the film, though could not sit through all of it. "Bleak" is the word for it and portrays post-apartheid South Africa in a way that is unsettling.

I just read and then watched "Women Without Men" by Iranian writer Shahrnush Parsipur. Both nicely done, but while the novel has some light-hearted and comic moments, the film is bleaker and reflects the current political situation in Iran.

Mike Dennis said...

I'd have to go with THE GRIFTERS, DOUBLE INDEMNITY, THE GODFATHER, NIGHT AND THE CITY, and THE MALTESE FALCON, to name a few of my favorites.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Also good are LAURA, MYSTIC RIVER, MARATHON MAN, M*A*S*H, STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, THE LADY VANISHES.
I guess bleak doesn't bother me too much. I saw an even bleaker one last night-Ajami.

Anonymous said...

Patti - Oh, interesting! I admit I haven't read that book, but now you've piqued my interest. Usually, I don't go much for films after I've read the book, but maybe this time...

Randy Johnson said...

I'm putting in a word for one that was better than the book: The Outlaw Josey Wales. Didn't really care for the book and only watched the movie because it was Eastwood. Was much surprised.

I've been told Hannibal was much better than the book. I wouldn't know because the book was so godawful, I refused to watch the film.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I know what you mean with Hannibel, Randy. Never read THE OUTLAW but liked the movie.

George said...

I liked the movie version of THE GENERAL'S DAUGHTER by Nelson DeMille better than the book.

R. T. said...

All films of Shakespeare's plays--some quite good--must defer to Orson Wells in MACBETH. It is superb!

Chris said...

I think I liked the movie version of No Country for Old Men better than the book.

pattinase (abbott) said...

It was a darn good movie for sure.
I think I saw his Othello but not MacBeth, RT.

Todd Mason said...

Among my several-times-cited better films than fiction:

THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE (at least the first film. The second isn't terrible but isn't nearly as good.)
DR. STRANGELOVE, loosely based on RED ALERT
THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS and THE FOUNTAINHEAD, but these are VERY low bars...and not very good films.

Chris said...

The Last of the Mohicans, the version that came out in the 90s, is one of my all time favorite movies.

Todd Mason said...

The more I hear and read about the Larsson novels, the more I gather THE MEN WHO HATE WOMEN (THE [WOMAN] WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO) probably belongs on the list of films which improve upon their source novels. And it's a good film. Likewise with that other Swedish production, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN.

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