Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Be Sure To Watch and Read

From personal experience television and movies can be a motivator to read. I watched a television production of Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? and it opened a whole new world of Agatha Christie mystery novels. They are entertaining and keep you guessing. At home now I probably have all of her novels in paperback and some in hardback. Another popular Christie book is And then There Were None which also goes by the title of Ten Little Indians. In the movie versions they take artistic license and change the ending. The book has a different ending where…well you will have to read the book to find out.

Another example was the Masterpiece Theater production of A Town like Alice based on the Nevil Shute novel. This is a wonderful story set during and after World War II about Jean Paget, who was working in Malaya when the Japanese invaded. She meets a young Australian soldier, Joe Harmon, who helps her and her fellow prisoners. He is punished by the Japanese and she thinks he has died. She survives the war and inherits money and decides to go back and build a well in a village where the people sheltered her. There she learns that Joe is still alive and she travels to the town of Alice Springs, Australia, where Joe lived before the war. In the meantime Joe has heard that Jean survived the war, and he goes to England looking for her. Jean’s solicitor Noel Strachan tells him she is in Australia and they both meet again in Australia in the town of Willstown. Noel visits Jean in Australia where she is using some of her inheritance to start a business and make Willstown a “Town like Alice”. Jean and Joe fall in love again and eventually marry and in the meantime Noel returns back to England. It is a love story with a bittersweet ending. Noel as her solicitor sums up in the last sentence of the book the story and his own unfulfilled love for Jean. “Of a girl that I met forty years too late, and the life in that small town that I shall never see again, that holds so much of my affection.”

When I watch and get interested in a television series, such as watching them on video or DVD, I will track down books written about the shows to provide a guide to watch. I have read such books as Colombo Phile by Mark Dawidziak, Alfred Hitchcock Presents by John McCarty and Gunsmoke: an American Institution by Ben Costello.

When I watched the movie The Ghost and the Darkness I tracked down a copy of the book it was based on The Man-eaters of Tsavo by John Henry Patterson. It’s the true story of two lions that attacked and killed over 130 of the builders of the Uganda-Mombasa Railway in 1898. Lieutenant Colonel John Henry Patterson was successful in killing the lions. The movie is loosely based on the book so to get the real story you need to read the book.

So the next time you watch a show on television or see a movie, check to see if it was based on a story or book, and then read it. You might be surprised to find out that the book is better.

Posted by David J.

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