Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Crow Road

I recently finished reading Iain Bank's novel 'The Crow Road' (1993) and as an extra treat a friend lent me a DVD film adaption based on the novel (2004). Don't know how this one could have escaped me. I was an avid reader of all kinds of fiction from 1974-1996, Kafka, Dostoevsky, Camus, Hesse and Proust foremost amongst continentals; Dickens, Self, Faulks, etc. among the Brits.

'Crow Road' is a great yarn which works on several levels as regards the role of narrative and story-telling, blurring fact and fiction in a fog of subjective memory and recall. The protagonist young Prentice realises that strange happenings are occurring to his family with mysterious disappearances, notably his uncle Rory, a budding travel writer.

The film adaption is fairly faithful to the novel. Recently someone insisted in discussion that the film of 'Crow Road' was actually better than the novel, indeed the blurb on the DVD quotes the author Iain Banks stating, 'annoyingly better than the book in far too many places'. However a film adaption always places the viewer in the interpretative lens of the director. With a novel one is obliged to use one's own imagination; with a film one enjoys the dubious luxury of employing someone else's imagination, even if an exceptionally talented imagination. A novel may take 15 to 20 hours or more to read, a film will last barely 3 or 4 hours at most. It's just that our modern life-style inclines one to become impatient and lazy, we have no time or application to read anymore. In this respect film has a lot to answer for, contributing greatly to the general illiteracy of our age. Moreover, while film is a social, gregarious activity, reading remains essentially a solitary activity, something few relish for prolonged periods of time.

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