Keeping an open mind

3 03 2008

PlugsMany movies based on books come out each year. However, few and far between ever achieve recognition for actually improving upon the original. And regardless, there will always be many who prefer the book versions for a multitude of reasons.

Terabithia

This year, some of the best movies were based on books, among them Best Picture Oscar nominees, There Will Be Blood, Atonement, and No Country For Old Men. However, I would like to endorse a less acclaimed movie from 2007: Bridge to Terabithia.

Walden Media has gone from an unknown to prominent film production company since its inception in 2002, helping to create more mature and sophisticated movies in a family genre that has been riddled with horrid slapstick comedies and poorly-acted wastes of time and money. Among Walden Media’s films are the acclaimed books-to-movies, Holes and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. While they aren’t all perfect or even extraordinary, Walden Media’ films have at least made the choice to produce meaningful tales as opposed to garbage.

I believe the movie version of Bridge to Terabithia conveys all the meaning of the book and then some. The original trailers for the movie were awful and misleading, causing some to believe that the beloved book had been turned into another sloppy kids movie. Why they chose the tactic they did I’ll never know. Fortunately, the movie plays nothing like the previews did, and the heart of the book is left intact.

This blog has always been about viewing the world differently, about not taking things for granted, and about creating one’s own identity. Somehow, I managed to find a movie that combines many of my beliefs into one. I’ll be the first to admit that some of the production values were less than perfect, and some of the soundtrack was a bit awkward, but the message got through more successfully than in some of the best movies I’ve seen.

This movie was clearly directed towards children, as was the book, but the idea of keeping an open mind and utilizing your imagination is often much more effective directed at an older age group. That’s why this movie makes a perfect family film. Too often people forget as they’re growing up what it’s like to dream. They’ve already accepted reality and whatever life seems to be laying directly in front of them. Those are the people who should watch this film.

By the way, I think AnnaSophia Robb made a fantastic Leslie Burke. It’s not an easy task to create someone that leaves such an impact near the movie’s end.

Keep an open mind. Find beauty even in the things you don’t believe. And for the love of all, we should invite Leslie next time. She’d like that.

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You can’t handle the truth

1 03 2008

NewsRecently, the Belgian author, Misha Defonseca, admitted that her best-selling auto-biographical work, Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years, is actually not auto-biographical at all. The story tells of her orphanhood during World War II, her adoption by a pack of wolves, and her slaying of a Nazi soldier in self defense. Many people had questioned the validity of the tale long before now, but anyone who had seen her in person and heard the tale as she told couldn’t do anything but believe.

Misha

“This story is mine. It is not actually reality, but my reality, my way of surviving,” she has said. It is true that her parents will taken and killed by Nazis when she was a young child. She was forced to live with her adoptive uncle and grandfather, who treated her as the daughter of traitors. Her memoire is meant to recount her real story, perhaps in a metaphorical manner. “There were moments when I found it difficult to differentiate between what was real and what was part of my imagination.”

Her story reminds me of the acclaimed fantasy movie, Pan’s Labyrinth, about a mistreated girl in war-ravaged Spain escaping via her own imagination.

Personally, I think more people should write fictional works under the guise that they are non-fiction. For many people, this book was inspirational, poignant, and captivating. Why would we want to rob people of those? The only failing here was letting the guise fall. Misha had a rare chance to completely change the reality in which we all live. She had the power to change history as we know it and get away with it, for the good of all.

I truly believe that her determination to make this book auto-biographical deserves commendation. The dedication it must have taken to live your life as you wish it had been is unbelievable.

Unfortunately, now the only word that will continue to be used with this book is “fake.” I linked to the book on Amazon.com earlier in the post. Notice the first review reads “Too bad it’s not true,” and gives one star out of five. That is probably the worst reason to dislike a book I have heard in my entire life. Last time I checked, fictional does not equal worthless. Furthermore, the book can still be read as somewhat metaphorical non-fiction, although clearly most people can’t handle that. So the author made a mistake. Why can’t it be seen as a good mistake?

The most important thing is that the story comes from the author’s heart. Why can’t people find value in that?