Saturday, June 07, 2008

Pilgrim's Progress: The Motion Picture

It's been forever since I posted anything, and I'm going to kind of cheat now by posting something I wrote to one of the handful of people liable to be reading this!
Anyway, a few months ago, the missus and I scored more than 20 hardcover classic books in a series for less than 10 bucks American. I'm working my way through them, and am currently on 'The Pilgrim's Progress' by John Bunyan. I hate it. To entertain myself whilst slogging through it, I've fabricated a loose model for the book to be adapted into a dark, modern 'road movie,' with incidental music (using lyrics from the text) by Tom Waits. My friend asked if it would be as horrible as 'The Wiz,' misunderstanding when I said it'd have music by Waits.
If it were a movie, I don't think it would be as horrifying as 'The Wiz' least not in the nobody-needs-to-see-Nipsey-Russell-cavorting-about-like-Mr.-Bojangles kinda way, possibly in the more usual horror-movie kind of way, though.
As it goes in my head, it'd be directed by David Lynch, and the Waits music wouldn't be in the all-singin' all-dancin' sense but just him performing the stupid 'songs' that appear throughout the book. They'd show up on radios and suchlike. The main character would be called Chris (or just go the whole ridiculous road, make him Asian and name him Chris Chan), and Evangelist would have to be played by some grizzled old fucker like Harry Dean Stanton or maybe Brad Dourif. Oh, and it'd just be called 'Pilgrim' and all the allegoric stuff would be MUCH more subtle. It'd be a sneaky-ass Christian-doctrine flick!
This is what I do to keep me getting through the book, y'see.
All those terribly named characters would get either Dickensian names to give the sense of their purpose, or just their names in foreign languages or something (maybe jokey names like the Chris Chan thing, then Evangelist could be a woman named Eve-Ann Jeliste!).
This is how much I dislike this book! I would rather see it turned into the worst piece of cinematic shit I can imagine, than continue just reading it.
My friend liked it, but it's a little more up his alley than mine. But when set next to something as beautiful, subtle and marvelously crafted as Milton, it just gets worse than it already is! The ham-fistedness of it is what really kills me, otherwise, I might enjoy it. I guess that's what you get when you have a Christian-first write a book about how to do it properly, as opposed to a poet-first writing an epic poem about the mythology. As it stands, I can't
wait for the book to be over.
Next up in my list is 'Grapes of Wrath,' by John Steinbeck. I don't think I've ever read it, and my wife loves it so much she shuffled my reading order just so I'd read it next! (Though I, stupidly, moved 'Pilgrim's...' ahead of it because after 'Moby-Dick,' 'Gulliver's Travels' and 'Of Human Bondage' I wanted something shorter! How could I know it would take me the same amount of time to read 3 pages of this that it did to read a chapter in '...Bondage'?) Anyway, I've read shamefully little Steinbeck, but remember him as eminently readable. I'm looking forward to something lighter, i.e., something written within the last century!