I’m über-glad I stuck with A Thousand Acres. The thing really picked up in the second half, and of course, the book was much better– more nuanced; more willing to go more in-depth into more dark places; more cognizant of the resident seeds of evil hanging around in even the most lamblike of us– than the movie. I was especially impressed with the way Smiley had the narrator grow up and out of her meek cluelessness, without feeling pressured to bring the story to a victorious, trumpets-and-sunshine end.
The one thing the movie adaptation did well? Cast Michelle Pfeiffer in the role of Rose. And I can’t remember at all how the cinema version brought things to a close, but at least from what I recall seeing, Jessica Lange was also a good choice for Ginny, at least in pre-epiphany mode.
So: one more win for the book over the movie. While considering this competition, though, I was reminded of those rare times when each version of a story is equally as good as the other. I’m thinking about two examples in particular: 1) the account of Philippe Petit’s high-wire walk between the Twin Towers in 1974. I first learned about it from the documentary that detailed it all, Man on Wire. Absolutely brilliant. It sent me straight to the protagonist’s own written original, To Reach the Clouds. Even though I knew what would happen, and how, the latter had me biting my nails to the end.
2) The Harry Potter series is an entirely different animal for me, and constitutes one rare, collective instance where I’m content to let each genre exist as a set of completely unique products– maybe because all of them were of high quality, and because, given the length of the later books, I was willing to allow for some excising in the later films.
That’s all I have to say about that, though, other than the fact that I would like to check out Peter Brook’s lengthy version of The Mahabharata. The time, though! There have to be five hours free somewhere…