Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Town Like Alice (The Movie)


At the beginning of the year my book club read A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute. I was pretty taken with the book. I mean, I got some serious nerd on while reading the book. I was Googling places and events and the author to find out more. (Okay, so this happens more than you'll ever be able to get me to admit when I read a book.) In all of my Googling I discovered two things:
1) In 1956 the book was made into a movie.
and
b) In 1981 the book was made into a mini-series.

I haven't yet gotten my hands on the mini-series, but there was some serious girl squealing a few weeks ago when I discovered that NetFlix would have the movie available for instant streaming on March 31st.

I know you're thinking "It's April 2nd, I wonder if she's watched it yet?" The answer is yes. Twice. The final verdict: I enjoyed it.

It started in the middle of the book when Jean returns to Malaysia to build a well. While there she remembers the terrible death march and of course meeting Joe and his crucifiction. Typically I don't like stories that start in the middle, go back to the beginning and then go forward, but in Alice (the book) I didn't mind. It actually made sense as the narrator of the story was the solicitor and not Jean. Anyways, in the movie, the solicitor played a very small role (about 6 speaking lines) and Jean was the narrator so I struggled with that plot device of the movie. [it's a weird "me" thing, I understand if people don't get it]

There were of course things that were different, things that happened just slightly different in the book, but overall I think the movie was very faithful the experiences the women went through on the death march. At first I thought the portrayal was a little tame compared to the book, but then I also thought that the death march would take up much less of the movie than what it actually did. I was very impressed considering the time that the book was written and the movie filmed (and yes, it is black & white) and that the movie is only 117 minutes long.

So how did they get the whole book into 117 minutes? They didn't. The movie actually ends when Jean and Joe meet back in Australia, which is where the second half of the book starts. And that's probably why I enjoyed the movie so much. Ask my book club, I like the gloom and gore stuff. The death march was the best part of the book, the romance not so much (the second half of the book is where the romance really takes place). The movie did exaggerate the romance a little more than the book, but I didn't feel it was dishonest to the author's intentions.

Overall I was incredibly happy with this movie, it exceeded my expectations and yeah, I probably will be watching it again.

1 comment:

gabrielreads said...

I'm also a Google-while-reading type of person. I think the record-holder for most things Googled while reading is The Da Vinci Code. I read it back in high school and I kept Googling things in order to fact-check. The book hadn't been out very long but already there were people who felt that it had some validity but I was doubtful and decided to look into most of the things that Brown purported in that book. I would have gotten through it a lot quicker if I hadn't but at least I was able to tell people, "Look, what he's saying doesn't even make sense and here's why." I think Googling can be a powerful tool for a reader if used properly.