Saturday, 28 December 2013

The Senior Cat and

I watch almost no television.
He usually wanders in for an evening snack at the same time as a programme which shows very short documentaries about people and places around the world. It lasts about twenty-five minutes and it is usually excellent - so much so that even watching a repeat is pleasurable.
That is almost the sum total of his television watching. He says he is too old to be depressed by watching a news programme. I watch an international news programme - at least until the point where the sport segment starts - and then I too turn the television set off.
Once in a while, often months apart, we might watch something else.
My sister suggested that the Senior Cat might like to watch "Asterix and Obelix v Caesar" the other night. It was, naturally, in French but the Senior Cat thought he could put up with sub-titles. He thought the Asterix books were amusing and that the film might be fun.
I was doing something else. I left him to it but about half an hour later I heard the sound go off.
"I can't be bothered," the Senior Cat informed me, "It's all right I suppose but it just isn't funny in the way the books are. It doesn't translate into film."
My sister said much the same thing later when he asked her. She stopped watching it as well - and she was much more likely to go on watching it than he was.
If I have already read a book I almost never enjoy a film adaptation of it as much as I enjoyed the book. I am not sure why this is but perhaps it is because I have already "seen" the characters and places for myself - and they rarely coincide with someone else's ideas about character and place.
This does not bother me about the short documentaries. It is good to be challenged about what places and people are like. Last night's segments were about Bolivian shoe-shine boys and then about baroque music being played by young musicians in the Bolivian jungle. The first segment was a sad insight into the ways some young people work to overcome extreme poverty. The second was full of hope for the future in the most unlikely of settings.
I could accept both things as fact without difficulty. If they had been fiction it would have been much more difficult, especially the second segment about the young musicians. Who would want to believe that the music of someone like Johann Sebastian Bach is played in the high Andes because young people want to do it?
I know that the reasons behind why and how we see things are complex and heavily influenced by our experiences. I like to have my ideas challenged but sometimes things just don't feel right. 
I wonder if Asterix would have been more successful as a cartoon?


Anonymous said...

Interesting though Cat because I gave up on it too. It just didn't work for me. Chris

jeanfromcornwall said...

I've always felt that Asterix would not translate very well to film. The point of the books was that you could go as slow as you wanted and savour the puns and the wordplay, especially in English. I know my children started early, but also got more and more out of the books as they grew. Film has to be pitched at just the one level. Such a waste, to just tell a story.

Anonymous said...

I don't think film has to be 'pitched at only one level' - I am amazed at what got past the Hays Code in the '50s - and certainly past me, aged under ten. Or perhaps I've got a naughtier mind now.