Saturday, March 5, 2011


Made myself a personal course of study: to watch movies where I'd read the book and said to myself: "How the HELL could they adapt THAT BOOK into a movie?!"

SO watched The Fountainhead last night. Movie's not bad. The adaptation (also by Ayn Rand) is rather impressive, contracting that long-ass book into 2 hours. A lot of stuff gets relegated to backstory, and Katie disappears entirely. Story focuses on the love drama between Dominique and Roark (and Dominique doesn't marry Peter in the book, she goes right to Gail). Since Dominique is the only character who really changes in the book, very smart to keep the emphasis on her (much like Dolly in Hello, Dolly; the original original text was called The Merchant of Yonkers, referring to the Vandergelder character*); though it's interesting that although the four sections of the book of The Fountainhead are named after the 4 main male characters, Dominique is in all of them.
Storytelling brisk and interesting till it drops dead for Roark's big speech.
Gary Cooper a bit boring as Roark, Patricia Neal is fantastic as Dominique.

Then decided to get out of the way my other personal assignment: The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Though the book is quite cerebral and philosophical, the actual plot events are interesting enough to warrant dropping the fascinating philosophy. Makes the movie a bit more sentimental than the book, in some ways. Acting is great; Juliette Binoche and Lena Olin are fantastic. Baby Daniel-Day Lewis is weirdly un-sexy (to me), though his Informed Sexiness is of course a given in the world of the movie.
Didn't really miss the philosophical stuff (which includes the meaning of the title), because enough of it was dramatized to still be interesting; and some of the philosophy is actually enclosed within the plot, though in the movie it's more "these things happened, draw your own conclusions".
Prague is gorgeous. Cinematography perfect. Mirrors everywhere in the film, commented on and interacted with, or sometimes just there, though of course nothing can be "just there" in a film, working with a mirror you have to be very careful not to get the camera reflected in the shot.
One whole section is dramatically shot with extra grain and switching from color to black and white to integrate new scenes with actual footage of the Warsaw Pact Invasion of Czechoslovakia; fascinating.
Didn't realize till I was about an hour in (because I was riveted) that the movie is nearly 3 hours long. After about an hour stopped being riveted, but was still entertained.
As good as the book, but in a different way.

* I was just reading that in previews Vandergelder ended Act I of Hello Dolly! with a song called "Penny in My Pocket", but audiences were loving Dolly so much that the focus shifted, so "Before the Parade Passes By" was written for Dolly (apparently in a couple of hours).