DMt. wrote:Yes too, but I would miss the film more than the novel, I think. I wonder if this forum would exist without eLina's incredible performance? [And osKare's too, oh yes].
I'll start with an aside: Without the film, this forum would not exist. As for the film itself, I think that the only singly irreplaceable components are Tomas Alfredson's directing and John Ajvide's screenplay. I think that you could replace any other single element without irretrievably damaging the film. That is, perhaps - perhaps
- you could replace any one of Lina, or Kåre, or Johan Soderquist, or Hoyte von Hoytema and the film could have still turned out to be as compelling. But this film really walked a tightrope where there are so many ways that it could have gone wrong but didn't. Perhaps another young actress who wouldn't have been as good as Lina could have been used, and Kåre's performance could have still covered for it. Or perhaps a less talented cinematographer could have been used, but the score could have still painted the emotional background landscape without having Hoyte's eye for color and composition. I don't think that this film could have survived the loss of more than one of these pieces.
The question of this thread is whether or not the novel could survive - or would have been the better for - losing the pieces that were ultimately trimmed from the fillet. In the novel, you really have to get pretty far from the main character before you start to see characters who begin to lack depth. I think of it as concentric circles surrounding Oskar, the main character. Oskar is fully fleshed out. The next ring out - Eli - is not so fully fleshed out but his being enigmatic is necessary to the plot. Next out in the third ring you have Håkan, Lacke, Virginia, and Tommy. Each of these characters are shown to us in enough detail that we really understand their motivations. In the fourth ring you have Jonny and Jimmy, Staffan, and perhaps Oskar's parents and Mr. Avila. These characters you kind of understand their motivations but they are filled out only far enough to describe the way they are, but hot really why. Finally you have Micke, Gösta, Morgan, Larry, Jocke out in the fifth ring. These characters all behave the way John Ajvide needed them to, but they were the way they were pretty much without explanation.
What I really appreciated about the novel that I have not seen anyone else comment on was the pacing. Once Håkan was in the hospital, and particularly after Eli's visit, I really got a sense of things accelerating. It was like when the roller coaster slowly crests the top, and you can see the track will take a steep plunge. You anticipate the acceleration of the story's events before you actually feel it start to pick up speed. Then you can actually feel the acceleration and speed, as the events in Eli's world spin of his control. JAL has lulled us into believing that as a vampire Eli can control his situation while Oskar cannot. Eli had been an anchor for Oskar, a source of stability, a source of power. Then things start spinning faster and faster and we find that Eli's world is no more in his control than Oskar's. Now the focus shifts to Eli as chapters get shorter and each plot thread gets closer and closer to him.
This is a slight shift in focus from the rest of the novel, where it has all been about Oskar. However Eli represents Oskar's salvation from Blackeberg. The focus in the last chapters narrows down Oskar's fate, since this is what Eli represents. This is where all of the space that John Ajvide gave to the peripheral plot threads and characters (the outer rings that I mentioned earlier) really pays off. As these rings constrict about Oskar in the end, they feel real
. They feel like real threats and not just plot devices because John Ajvide took the time to show us their full trajectory. They are not just thunderbolts falling from the sky. They are more like cannonballs, and John Ajvide showed us how they were loaded into the cannon and how the barrel got aimed. So now as things pick up speed at the end, the reader is not asking herself, "Why is that happening? Why is he doing that?" The things that happen feel inevitable and you know
they will happen because JAL has already shown you why they must
This is why I liken it to a rollercoaster. You stood in line, climbed aboard, and rode it to the top. Now as you start the plunge, it is too late to turn back. You know the plunge is inevitable and cannot stop it. The acceleration is exhilarating. And so too I found the acceleration of the story at the end exhilarating.
As much as I love the film, for me it lacked this sense of acceleration at the end. This not a criticism. The calm, steady pacing through out the film is absolutely part of its charm, and perhaps in some ways the source of its power. But film is a different medium than literature. Things that are possible in one are not possible in the other. The same story can be told in both, but as the art of storytelling approaches a high level, you cannot say that one medium could replace the other. In the novel, JAL provided a different kind of ride that was really not possible in the film. The film could not devote that same amount of space to making all the the characters surrounding Oskar seem real. On the other hand, being a visual medium, characters can become real just by virtue of being present. Characters in literature must be made real by the author. Thus I believe that the fillet that John and Tomas found in the novel only became the fillet with the transition from novel to film. What became a fillet on screen would not even have been a snack in print.