8 April 2003
A reader's greatest fear
Things may have changed since The Lord of the Rings series began, at least for some people, but few things upset me quite as much as seeing that a book of which I am inordinately fond is about to turn into a motion picture how can they possibly do it justice?
Next month I have to come to grips with the BBC Films/Independent Distribution Partnership's production of Dodie Smith's late-Forties novel I Capture the Castle, a book I first read in high school and dust off every other year or so just to reacquaint myself with the residents of ruined Castle Godsend and to see if I'm still in love with Cassandra Mortmain. (I tend to be, shall we say, frustratingly constant in my devotion, particularly when it is not returned, which is almost always the case.)
I could boycott the movie on general principle, and there's always the chance that it won't play here at all after all, they may need extra screens for The Matrix Reloaded but even if I can avoid the theatrical release, I'll still have to contend with the eventual DVD. Fortunately, the canned synopsis floating around seems remarkably true to the storyline, and the Samuel Goldwyn company, which is distributing the film in the US, has a reputation for picking up the Good Stuff.
Then there's that R rating, about which I have some misgivings. Yes, there's some brief nudity in the book, but it's fairly nonsexual in nature. (Cassandra takes a bath; Topaz, the free-spirited stepmother, is wont to "commune with nature," which Cassandra decides to try for herself just once.) This, of course, reflects the collapsed state of my libido: I don't think I can handle seeing an object of my affection in her birthday suit. (I am, of course, amenable to testing this thesis.) And there's something a trifle disquieting about seeing something I read when I was fifteen being turned into an R-rated film. Still, this isn't exactly Disney material. Then again, neither was Smith's 1956 novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians, at least at first.