Or, as Zona is subtitled - A Book about a film about a journey to a room.
Zona is all about Stalker, a film by Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky. Author Geoff Dyer (a brilliantly droll Brit who graced the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival this year) talks us through what is happening on the screen and his reactions to it. I shudder at the thought of having the commentary turned on a DVD, but in a way this is just a booky version of that – but with way more room for digressions. Geoff goes on a bit about his childhood, and how his wife is a dead ringer for Natasha McElhone. We get to that via Tarkovsky made the original Solaris, and Natasha starred in the more recent adaptation of Solaris with George Clooney as lead).
This could/should be a literary subgenre. The film and your reaction to it, and digressions. It probably is only going to work when you are in the hands of a expert writer like Dyer.
It’s very odd that someone talking about a movie you’ve never seen is a brilliant read. I wonder what it’s like for someone who has seen the movie?
A review of Zona by Sukhdev Sandhu in The Guardian sums up with:
Beyond the book’s bravura formalism and in spite of the suspicion that it could be viewed as a highbrow take on live-blogging, it’s Dyer’s ability at moments like this to make pilgrims of his readers and to lead them on a journey in search of truths about love and about the nature of happiness that make Zona such an exhilarating achievement.
Another good little volume about a movie is Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story. It is all about director Todd Haynes’ underground classic in which the tragic demise of Karen Carpenter is reenacted with dolls.
Freaky (and yet utterly compelling) stuff.
Are there any other books about a movies you reck0n are worth reading?
And if you were to write about a movie, which one would you deconstruct and report on? I’d do my alltime favourite movie Excalibur or the fantabulous TV movie version of Ivanhoe starring Anthony Andrews and Sam Neill!