Tristram Shandy: A cock and Bull#$%@ Story

What is gained in the filming of the un-filmable?

Tristram Shandy confused me a great deal. It was abrupt and uncomfortable and jarring. I tried to determine what it was that was admirable about this adaptation. I also struggled to determine what was gained. I didn’t quite see the beneficial exchange between me (audience) and the film itself. In terms of the spirit of adaptation and fidelity, I suppose the film does its job but nevertheless I struggle with the idea of whether or not this movie was purposeful. Michael made a comment about smoke and mirrors. The film does make good use of the concept of putting us in a postion of knowledge (once again Michael I agree with you on that). However I just don’t feel like the edits, cuts, transitions and repositioning of the story and scenes really serve to help me enjoy the movie. The whole thing felt like an experience within an experience or a movie within a movie like Tropic Thunder. I feel ultimately and honestly that when you write or create for someone other than yourself you have a goal in mind that at some level the work will intrigue or entertain, but when it comes to film, a 2 hour vacation into pretend-land, if you don’t entertain or that isn’t your goal, then what was the purpose for it? This is especially evident in the case of film adaptation. The road laid out for a film adaptation is one of scrutiny and micro-examination because of the concern of faithfulness. Sin City, Benjamin Button, Dark Knight, The Great Gatsby all great works of literature and each with successful film adaptations but all entertained. I didn’t feel entertained, in fact I felt put off. I didn’t even finish the entire movie because the screaming during Steve Coogans son’s/self birth was so excruciating I wanted to fight a bear while covered in honey, as I felt that would be less painful. Perhaps that is an extreme but nevertheless when it comes to the realm of entertainment and film adaptation I sadly but understandably (in my opinion) feel that their must be a bottom line: ENTERTAIN ME. Sometimes to be successful at something that someone has already done, you need to do something different. Blind faith can be a dangerous thing.

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One Response to Tristram Shandy: A cock and Bull#$%@ Story

  1. Trevor,
    Hello. Where to begin… I do understand the frustration in watching this film, especially since I am unfamiliar with the original work. To that point, I am unable to accurately comment and say that this film contains the spirit of the original. What I am able to say is that I do appreciate the way the film looks at the lives of the actors, and how that can contribute to the film. I found the role of the assistant to be the most important, even more important than Steve. She has a connecttion with the book and certain elements speak to her. To Steve, her opinion is viable. While speaking to the editor, he makes the suggestion her, as if it was his idea. I just found this scene to be the most powerful because it really questioned what aspects of novel should be filmed and how complicated adapting a film is.
    I am sorry you were unamused.
    ** I agree with your Tropic Thunder statement.

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