Recent Excursions In Print and Film

I just finished reading the last of the Little House books a couple of minutes ago, and it’s hard to express how much I enjoyed re-reading that series. It’s been so many years since I last read them; I thought going into it that maybe I’d just enjoy the nostalgia of reading them, but I don’t think that covers it. I also thought that, since I remembered liking the earlier ones more than the later ones when I was younger, that it might be that way this time, too. But, somehow, in getting older, I loved them all just as much or more than I did when I read them as a little girl. Certainly the earlier ones had a similar effect on me as they did when I was little–I was always fascinated of the descriptions of how their day-to-day tasks were done and what sorts of things they ate and such. The books made me every bit as hungry as before. (I still desperately want to taste the candy they made by pouring fresh, hot maple syrup over clean, cold snow.) But I think, being older, that I found more to relate to and appreciate in the later books than I did when I was younger. And, oh, I did so love reading about Almanzo courting her. He could practically give Mr. Darcy a run for his money, but Almanzo Wilder’s got the definite advantage of having been real on his side.

Ahem.

I also finished reading The Princess Bride just yesterday after an aborted attempt to read it a few years ago. The book was certainly enjoyable, but I do think I quite like many of the changes Goldman made when adapting it for the screen. Not that, you know, my love for the movie has any biasing effect on me. Oh, no.

Speaking of films and biases, I also watched the remake of The Lion in Winter last night. Now, I’m quite sure that my adoration of love for the original blinds me somewhat to the good points in the newer version, but it’s difficult to have Patrick Stewart and Glenn Close uttering the exact lines Peter O’Toole and Katherine Hepburn gave such fire to and not be at least a little disappointed. The newer version, of course, has much more impressive sets and costumes and background shots, but, for the most part, I felt like the actors’ deliveries lacked the dangerous edge of the original. Somehow it just doesn’t work when King Henry tells King Phillip, “Use all your voices. When I bellow, bellow back,” in a congenial, smiling manner. I mean, hello. You have to bellow in the first place, Henry.

Although the two leads seemed a lot softer and affectionate than in the original film, there were some aspects of the newer one I appreciated. I felt like the portrayal of Geoffrey, the middle son, was more believable in this film, even if he doesn’t quite come across as the thing of wheels and gears that his father accuses him of being. I felt that the interpretation of Richard was okay–not great but not bad either, just different. And I thought that, as King Phillip, Jonathan Rhys Meyers handled the Richard/Phillip scene with Henry better than Dalton had, but that may be my appreciation for JRM and his, um, ability to do scary-crazy sneaking in somewhere. The John in this version was, well, John but with the addition of crying. No, sobbing. Seriously. There was one whole scene where he was just sobbing so heavily in the background that it distracted from Henry’s speech. Strangeness, really.

I’d had high hopes at the beginning, when they showed a sequence entirely unlike the original, in which Eleanor was shown (in armor!) alongside Richard and Geoffrey as they fought a civil war against Henry. They showed Henry ordering her capture, letting the boys go, and then the initial imprisonment of Eleanor. I was getting excited. …And then we picked up the word-for-word execution of the original screenplay but, for the most part, without the verve and barbs that made me so love the 1968 version. Ah, well. It’s what happens. 😉

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