|Why do they DO that?!!
||[Oct. 21st, 2005|11:27 am]
This morning when I received my "Opening this Weekend" e-mail from yahoo!movies, the ad at the top was for Bee Season, which will have a limited opening on November 11. There is no general opening listed, so either they are aiming for the Oscars or they consider it a small film.
Now, three weeks ago I finished reading the novel upon which the movie is based. It is an intense, disturbing book - so disturbing that it took me a while to decide that I liked it. On the surface, it is the story of a very average little girl in a family of overachievers who turns out to be a speller of savant brilliance. Her father, who has never had much reason to interact with her, focuses all his attention on prepping her for the next spelling bee, and that change of attentions upsets the family dynamic, leading to a lot of upheaval.
Beneath this, the book is about ceremony and ritual, spirituality and the meaning of life. People acting in radically different ways are actually paralleling each other's journeys, beneath the surface. It's about seeking in similar ways to "A River Runs Through It" (the book), but is much more verbal and therefore can probably be more successfully tranferred to the screen than the symbolism was in "A River Runs Through It" (the movie).
I'm watching the trailer, and immediately it is clear that movie people can't just leave stuff alone. The father, who in the book is a cantor and househusband, now works in an office, drives an Alpha Romeo, and does not wear a yarmulka. The shared activity of the father and older brother - playing guitars together - has been "upgraded" to the violin and the cello, presumably because these are much more intellectual instruments. The mother, a hard-hitting, top-flight attorney who has serious intimacy issues, appears to be hesitant and vulnerable from the beginning, under the thumb of the husband instead of locked into a much more interesting and unconscious power struggle with him.
They seem like small things, but when you consider that the heart of the story is Kaballah, Hare Krishna, and kleptomania, it's obvious that changing the dynamic of the relationships might have a really serious impact on the whole meaning of the film.
I don't get why the Hollywood people feel like they need to do such things. While I can understand that they may well rearrange the events of the book and omit certain parts in order to create a more movie feel, why do they then have to muck around with the foundations of the characters and drag us further from the source material than ever?
The one review on IMDB indicates that it works, and I really hope it does. But, man, I don't get this compulsive need to molest the material, put your fingerprints all over each individual part of it. It's frustrating.