Wednesday, August 19, 2009

...But the Movie Was Better

It warms the cockles of my heart (assuming hearts really have cockles) when anyone, but especially my students, says, "I enjoyed the movie, but the book was better." In fact, almost never do I hear the reverse. Occasionally a movie will actually do justice to a book, but more often than not, I am disappointed. In fact, I catch myself almost avoiding movies of books I loved. (A confession here: I haven't watched a single one of the Harry Potter movies all the way through. I intend to do so, but I want to start at the beginning.)

Anyone who knows me--or who reads my blog--knows how much I love an audiobook. I agree with Pat Conroy when he called abridgements something along the lines of "a crime against nature," but with an unabridged book, especially one well done, I get the full impact. When my friend Bebe listened to Cold Mountain, she said, "I might go see the movie if they make one, but I honestly feel as if I've already seen it in my head." I get that.

This week, though, I went to see the new hit movie Julie and Julia with a group of friends. I own the book by Julie Powell, but I haven't read it yet. In fact, even before the movie opened, several people had told me they hadn't loved it. One or two, at least, added that they could see how it might be a better movie than book. After seeing the movie, I understand the secret: it is based not only on Powell's memoir of her year spent channeling Julia, but it balances her story with that of Julia herself in My Life in France.
That is the book I want to read. Our preconceptions don't lean toward expecting a Julia Child love story, but that is exactly what it is. The very best of the movie was Julia and husband Paul's love story. Okay, the best part of the movie was Meryl Streep, who became Julia Child. Now I feel duty bound to begin some post-viewing reading, but before I take Julie and Julia down off the shelf--and I will--I think I'll pick up a copy of My Life in France --and Mastering the Art of French Cooking. After all, I'm craving duck!


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