I’m not much of a movie person. I never have been. Given the choice between a film and a book, I’ll crack the page every time. Of the few movies I really love, only one started out as a book (The Year of Living Dangerously) and the films adds the dimension of sweaty, heady sensuality, plus Linda Grant’s stunning performance.
What prompts this is the fact that I’m re-reading The English Patient. It’s a glorious novel, a worthy winner of the Booker Prize, more than the equal of the rest of Michael Ondaatje’s canon, and I love most of this books. I’ve never seen the film and doubt I ever will. It would become too concrete. I’d hear the voices and see the faces from the movie, rather than the ones the author puts in my head.
There’s real beauty in imagination. It soars, it flies. Movies, at least to me, are too grounded, they have too much gravity to them. They keep me trapped on the screen, I can’t escape. Television does much the same, and is often far more mundane. I prefer things to happen in my head, where I’m an active participant, than to be a consumer.
I’ve been asked more than a few times who I’d like to play the leads if the Richard Nottingham books were filmed for the big or small screen. Apart from the fact that it’s never going to happen, the answer is I simply don’t know. I’m not familiar with actors or actresses. The closest I can come, for the upcoming Gods of Gold, is for Maxine Peake to play Annabelle Atkinson (but that’s not going to happen, either).
Really, no one could match of to those people who populate my mind. Those characters are nebulous. To give them definitive faces and voices would change them forever. Within they freedom of a novel they will be whoever you see them as being.