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Carissa Green Reads

I read widely from many genres. Perhaps this blog will feature fewer ratings and reviews, but I certainly intend to write about my reading life - it's the subject I most find myself wanting to talk about.

Currently reading

John Adams
David McCullough
Chicago Poems
Carl Sandburg
Chekhov Four Plays
Anton Chekhov, David Magarshack
The Gay Science: with a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs
Walter Kaufmann, Friedrich Nietzsche
A Kierkegaard Anthology
Robert W. Bretall

Notes on Adaptation: The Revenant

The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge - Michael Punke

I am very, very glad that "The Revenant" isn't nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay tonight. I read the Michael Punke novel that's credited as the source material for the film. It was  fine, high-level storytelling, but, I admit, there were scenes that were quite difficult to get through. After reading the novel, I really didn't want to see the movie. 


But since it was nominated for Best Picture, I gave it my best shot - although I did put it off until three days before the ceremony. I left less than 10 minutes into the picture. Something I've probably done only two or three times in my life.


So how can I write about the film as an adaptation of the novel without having seen it? Not very successfully, I reckon, but I'll give it a try.


First, I read a New Yorker article on the film, and I barely recognized it from the book. Bear attack, check. Main character left for dead, check. Pursuit of revenge, check. But then there were long sections about Hugh Glass' Indian wife and son (NOT IN THE BOOK) and all sorts of other changes. I don't mind deletions, but when a film twists and adds a bunch of things from its source material, I get cranky. 


Second, let's address the 10 minutes I did see. Here's basically what it was: Establishing shot of Glass and his family sleeping (not in the book). Establishing shot of Glass and comrades hunting. Establishing shot of traders preparing beaver pelts. Massacre.


After less than three minutes with these characters, I didn't give half a shit about them, and now they were being slaughtered and slaughtering Indians in return. Yes, there were massacre scenes in the book - but well after characters were established, and I had a relationship with them as a reader. I cared about their fates, which made it hard to read. 


A massacre at minute three was just gore for gore's sake, which is always a deal-breaker for me. Disappointing. 


And I'm sure I'll be even more disappointed later tonight, if the film wins the awards it is expected to. But at least it won't win Best Adapted Screenplay.


Perhaps someday I will watch the entire film. On television, where its size is less affecting. And with someone whom I feel can support me emotionally. Or perhaps not.