Happy 1500th post!

CakeBack in September 2009 we celebrated Blog post #1000 with a foodie celebration of  Richard Till and Heston Blumenthal – Culinary mashup.
Now we are proud to say we’ve reached another milestone – Post #1500.

Some Christchurch City Libraries blog factoids:

BlogThere’s plenty more good stuff to come in the following months – on movies, Maori Language Week, Poetry Day, graphic novels, mysteries – and more.

We’ve got a great group of blog readers and supporters – widening out from the local Christchurch readers to New Zealand and even international. We love it that authors pop in and add their two pence worth in the comments.

So thanks to our blogging team, and to you our wonderful readers and commenters – Keep it coming, keep on reading.

Recent necrology, June 2010

Necrology – a list of notable people who have died recently:

  • Raymond Allchin, 1923-2010
    Archaeologist and cultural historian of ancient India
  • Russell Ash, 1946-2010
    Author and publisher
  • Louise Bourgeois, 1911-2010
    Sculptor whose unsettling, autobiographical work won global recognition only in her seventies
  • Maureen Forrester, 1930-2010
    Feisty contralto who inherited Kathleen Ferrier’s Mahlerian mantle and became a popular operatic diva
  • John Hedgecoe, 1937-2010
    Photographer, writer and professor
  • Sebastian Horsley, 1962-2010
    English artist and author
  • Laurence Malcolm, 1929-2010
    Fomer Professor of Community Health in Wellington, consultant in health services research and development
  • Jim Marshall, 1936-2010
    Photographer who captured the personalities of rock and roll, from the Beatles and Hendrix to The Cult
  • Rue McClanahan, 1935-2010
    Man-eating star of The Golden Girls who acquired and discarded many a husband in real life
  • Ronald Neame, 1911-2010
    Cinematographer, producer and director whose talents brought lustre to many great British films
  • Sigmar Polke, 1941-2010
    Wildly-experimental German who subverted Warhol and became one of the world’s most important artists
  • Jose Saramago, 1922-2010
    Controversial novelist who became the first writer in Portuguese to win the Nobel Prize for Literature
  • Giuseppe Taddei, 1916-2010
    Baritone of liquid voice who made a belated Met debut and shaped up with spaghetti to excel as Falstaff

Books into Film and TV – Oh, dear

Sometimes making a book into a movie works; sometimes it doesn’t. The range of opinion on this is huge – your love is my hate. So, at the risk of sounding unpatriotic, here is my hate: The Lord of the Rings movies.

First I want to acknowledge the good parts of the movies. The visuals were stunning, and I think captured the descriptions in the book well. In accordance with my licence to niggle I would say that the Elves were a little too Arts and Crafts and showed no signs of stunning artistic ability. But the buildings, the landscapes, the clothing, the armour – all were convincing and that was the part I enjoyed most. The acting ranged from competent to excellent. The standout was Andy Serkis as Gollum.

The movies fell down with the script. Some of the changes from the book were fair enough, such as the elimination of the conspiracy of Merry, Pippin, Sam and Fredegar Bolger when Frodo leaves Bag End. It would take far too much time to properly develop this plot point, although its elimination means that Merry and Pippin in particular lose out in character development. Then there were the additions such as the teeter-totter escape from Moria, which was just silly. Those examples were from The Fellowship of the Ring, the least objectionable of the three movies.

The last two movies lost me altogether. Dwarf tossing jokes, dumbing down the Ents, the sad twisting of Faramir and his father Denethor: all combined to push me right out of the story. The moment of no return was in The Two Towers, when Aragorn is knocked unconscious and falls into a deep river while wearing a mail coat. So he drowned. But somehow he washed up downstream (wearing a mail coat?), was kissed by his horse and rode away to further adventures. Unfortunately, since people who fall into rivers while unconscious and wearing heavy clothes drown, I found it impossible to take the rest of the movies seriously. ZombieAragorn is not a good addition to the story.

Many people do not find these issues a problem. It’s only a movie, they say, and seem to be able to ignore heaps of bad things in favour of the spectacular moment. I can’t manage turning off my critical brain, and the more I need to, the less I can enjoy the movie.

So there you have it: thumbs down to The Lord of the Rings movies. I really wanted the movies to be good and I’m really sad that I can’t enjoy them as much as I would like. It was a massive achievement to film the book at all of course,

Tell us your favourite book-to-movie fails!
Need inspiration? Check out the library’s page on Books into film & television. More film stuff on our Film webpage and Read the Book — then see the film.