Sunday, October 17, 2010

3 (More) Bradbury Stories; My Thoughts On A Movie

The Stories of Ray Bradbury. Introduction by Christopher Buckley. 2010. April 2010. Knopf, Doubleday. 1112 pages. [I've read 407/1112] 

I haven't read many short stories this week. But. What I have read, I've really enjoyed! See my first two posts on this short story collection: first twelve and next twenty-six.

The Great Wide World Over There
It was a day to be out of bed, to pull curtains and fling open windows.
My thoughts: Cora, the heroine, is fixated on the trivial matter of receiving mail--"real" letters in a "real" mailbox. Since she can't read or write, and since she doesn't know anyone--near or far--who can read or write, this dream seems out of touch with reality. (Not that you could convince her of that, mind you!) One summer, she has a nephew, Benjy, visit her and her husband. He can read and write. Is this the opportunity that she's been waiting for all these years?
This story is sad because Cora never realizes the true purpose of letters, of mail, to communicate. Cora misses out on connecting with those around her--her husband, her nephew, her neighbors--because she is too busy dreaming these silly dreams.

The Playground
A thousand times before and after his wife's death Mr. Charles Underhill ignored the Playground on his way to and from his commuters' limited train. He neither liked nor disliked the Playground; he hardly knew it existed.
My thoughts: Childhood is anything idyllic in Ray Bradbury's The Playground. This is a haunting story of a man who will do anything to save his young son from enduring the horrors, the hardships, common to childhood. In this case, the scrapes, bruises, and taunts which abound on the local playground.
Is our hero, Charles Underhill, imagining these horrors? Judge for yourself!

It was past time for him to see the doctor again.
My thoughts: Has Mr. Harris lost it? Or has Mr. Munigant played a foul trick on him? As Mr. Harris imagines his skeleton is out to get him, his life spirals out of control. Very creepy!

Have you read any of these? What did you think? Do you have a favorite Ray Bradbury story?

This past week I watched the 1966 film Fahrenheit 451. It is different from the book--very different. As a movie--all on its own--I think it worked fairly well. However, it is not timeless like the book. The movie is obviously dated. And some scenes don't work well--like the "jet pack" chase scene. But it wasn't painful--for me--to watch.

One of the ways the movie differs from the book is in the importance of Clarisse. In the book, she is a catalyst for Montag. She makes him question his life--his happiness. But their acquaintance is brief. Just a conversation or two. And then she dies. An accident?! Maybe, maybe not. In the movie, they make her several years older. They make her more of a rebel, a threat. They have her as a teacher whose job is threatened. Because of this change, viewers get a glimpse into the educational philosophy of such a society. She takes the additional role of Faber. It is Clarisse who tells Montag about the community of "books" living outside the city. It is where she is planning on going now that she is "wanted" by authorities. The fact that she lives and is able to be reunited with Montag didn't quite work for me.

I would have loved to see Faber in the film. I thought the conversations these two had in the book were so well done. Their dialogue was so important--so crucial--to the heart of the book. And it's something that can't be easily replaced by Montag's lighter-hearted conversations with a beautiful young woman.

In the book, Montag saves a Bible. He "becomes" the book of Ecclesiastes. In the movie, that changes. You'd almost expect it to change, wouldn't you? I think it is unfortunate. In the movie, he becomes a book that he had never even read before: Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe. I would have preferred him to become David Copperfield. Because at least he read and loved that book. It is featured in at least two earlier scenes of the movie.

I liked seeing the "book" community. Like the brothers "Pride" and "Prejudice." But because the war--or the threat of war--was eliminated from the movie--for the most part. It doesn't have quite the same feel as the book. Yes, the society was bad. But it didn't seem so dark and hopeless. Mindless, yes, of course, given over to pleasure and happiness instead of thinking and learning. But hopeless? Not really. So I preferred the book to the movie.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 comment:

Kailana said...

I really need to experience some Bradbury. Even though it is passed the RIP challenge, I should still try to.