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View Diary: * New Day * — What's your favorite short story? (313 comments)

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  •  The Dead *in spite of* (8+ / 0-)

    I name "The Dead," too, but I could rant a long rant on why the film is a fine thing, a lovely piece of film, but it isn't "The Dead."

    "The Dead" is the story of Gabriel -- a man who is so locked in his subjective self that he cannot see women except as accusations or extensions of himself; they are guilt or mystery or fear of inadequacy, but always in reflection against the subject. He never considers the interiority of the woman, or anyone, really. It is thus appropriate that he feels most lustful when he sees his wife experiencing grave sadness and mistakes loss of love for love. When he gets a real reflection, he realizes his own paralysis and death, and how he is less alive for Gretta than a dead boy.

    The Dead cannot convey thoughts, and therefore it only shows the actions in the story. Those actions are few, and, from the objective surface, we would never guess at the emotions -- any more than Gabriel does. The director can lead us to judge Gabriel harshly, but we never have a chance to sympathize, first. Instead, because Gabriel concentrates on Gretta, the movie becomes "the story of Gretta." That's a reversal of the short story to the film.

    Everyone's innocent of some crime.

    by The Geogre on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 10:19:03 AM PDT

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    •  Agree that it is worthy to study changes (5+ / 0-)

      between the text and film. The tension between sympathy for each of them is rich. Notice that the voice over at end makes it first person, so in some ways there is self recognition for inadequacies that are not in the Gabriel as described by the narrator. I'd like to track down more of the "musical" version of it, as well. Christopher Walken was in it, and it played in NY, LA, DC. and won Tony for best book adaptation.

    •  Maybe the film (3+ / 0-)

      worked for me because I had read the story first, but I thought John Huston was subtly able to communicate the emotions from the objective surface.

      I certainly thought it was beautifully cast and acted.

      "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others." --Groucho Marx

      by Dragon5616 on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 11:19:45 AM PDT

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      •  Agree with the quality (3+ / 0-)

        I had read the story first, of course, but I had also studied adaptation, and I consciously tried to watch the film as an object separate from its source. For people who know the story well, we can see everything that Gabriel described, and the acting is very good. (I'd never have put Angelica in as Gretta the country girl, though.)

        Anyway, for people who see the film alone, or the film first, they see Gretta's story, with Gabriel mucking around and allowed poetry to close the film.

        As a film, it's a lovely period piece with a good script for actresses. As an adaptation, it may have failed because it was literal. (There are things movies can't do well, and internal narration is one of those. Metaphor is another.) Kubrick always mutilated the things he adapted, but he pretty much always was accurate to either the aesthetic or message or tone of the work, and to achieve that accuracy, he had to translate other elements. Huston, on the other hand, was always faithful to the word, and it worked with Wise Blood, but "The Dead" was too movie-hostile.

        Everyone's innocent of some crime.

        by The Geogre on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 11:37:27 AM PDT

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