Cock and Bull, or how to talk youself out of leaving the house and paying for a movie ticket.

Monday 24 October 2005

Still juggling several long posts that I can’t be bothered finishing just now, and besides I’ve just found out that someone (Michael Winterbottom) has made a movie based on the greatest novel ever written, Laurence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. (Not to be confused with the blog of the same name.)
That said, I probably won’t go and see it. The last time I went to a cinema of my own volition was to watch Tank Girl and I don’t think I’ve sufficiently recovered to show my face again around a ticket booth just yet. Besides, it’s one of those novels-they-said-could-never-be-filmed; worse, it’s one of those films-about-making-a-film.
A lot of this smart-arsed japery can be sheeted home to Sterne* himself, who all but created the book-within-a-book genre and more stylistic tricks than the combined forces of the postmodernists have deconstructed. But what almost every would-be imitator neglects is that through all of its futile textual acrobatics, Sterne’s book paints the most compassionate, kind-hearted and life-affirming portrait of human imperfection.
It’s hard to imagine how the movie could add up to more than a sequence of unconnected skits, although framing it in a story of the vanity of attempting a film adaptation could help this problem. Alternatively, it could end up like Sally Potter’s film of Orlando, which was only any good in the bits which weren’t based on the book.
Either way, it may be worth watching just for the prospect of Dylan Moran reading the Curse of Ernulphus.
* Not, to my knowledge, on the cover of Sergeant Pepper. He did, however, get namedropped by Dexy’s Midnight Runners. Who misspelled his name on the lyric sheet.
  1. oh, I know exactly the qualms arising from that piece of news. But on the upside a blogger whose opinion is utterly to be depended on (Long Pauses in my sidebar) saw it at the Toronto festival and says it's very good. I'm keen to see it.

  2. Thanks Laura, I'll keep that in mind before ultimately deciding it's raining outside and I'd rather stay home watching a repeat of CSI.

  3. Actually, this is the same bloke who directed 24 Hour Party People, so he knows how to make the telling of a story part of the story itself.

    Also, I just noticed some of the music for the film is written by Michael Nyman, who has been working on an unfinished opera of Tristram Shandy for the last 20-odd years. I wonder if this gets worked into the movie as well?