Saturday, August 29, 2009

Books to Film: Feeding the Consumer's Urge to Shop

Film adaptations are the norm these days, as Hollywood seems to have run out of fresh ideas for the most part. So, directors, producers, and screenwriters turn to books. Some choose classics, particularly anything by Shakespeare, and give it a modern twist (i.e. "Ten Things I Hate About You" is an adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew). Others take newer novels, particularly young adult novels (i.e. the Harry Potter series and "Marley and Me") and just adapt them for the screen. Adaptations don't change much in theory, just seeing each story from a different perspective and using their artistic license to change what they will to fit their new vision.

I personally like to read a book before I see the film adaptation. I don't like to do it the other way around because I feel like my view of it, the imagery my mind will create, is tainted by the vision of the film makers. Once and a while, I'll go see a movie anyway because I have no real intense desire to read the book in the first place. Like "Julie and Julia," which I saw on Friday.
Based on the memoir Julie and Julia by Julie Powell, a young woman living in Queens who on a whim decides to work her way through Julia Child's famous cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2), completing all 524 recipes in 365 days, and then blog about the experience.

Usually an adaptation makes a viewer who hasn't read the book want to go out and buy it. But this film is unique. It didn't make me want to go out and read Powell's memoir (though I am intrigued to check out her blog, The Julie/Julia Project). Instead, it made me want to go out and buy Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Some could easily argue that the film was based on both Powell's and Child's books, which I suppose would be accurate. (The people involved in the adaptation and in the publication of Child's book certainly thought so--they even put out a movie tie-in edition for the cookbook, which in my opinion, is going a little too far.) But to me as a viewer at the time, I didn't feel like the film was about Child's cookbook, but rather about Child herself and the process of creating the cookbook. Or even more about her book My Life in France.

But despite that, I was happily met with this urge to don my apron and flip the pages of this cookbook with sticky fingers. I'm still fighting it right now in fact, knowing and my first lesson in French cooking is just a click and a couple days shipping away. The only other time I've felt so inclined to read a book that served a role in another book (or adaptation as the case may be), was when I read Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake. Lucky for me, I was just about to read Nikolai Gogol's The Overcoat in a college lit class at the time and my craving could be appeased.

It's not so easy this time. I even made my own Beef Bourguignon last night for dinner, but I had to do it without my own copy of MtAoFC, and with the advent of the Crock Pot. So, since going out to purchase a big, fat, expensive book on French cooking just wasn't in the cards for me, I just had to be satisfied with the tips I learned in the film (tip #1: Don't crowd the mushrooms) and the cookbooks I do have in my possession. Some of which, I absolutely adore:

New Cook Book by Better Homes and Gardens (excellent beef bourguignon recipe. I know this for a fact!)
The Joy of Cooking (of course!) by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, and Ethan Becker
Chef Jeff Cooks by Jeff Henderson
The Big Book of Wok by Nicola Graimes
Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis

Don't even get me started on desserts...

1 comment:

  1. Another great book that will make you want to cook -- this time Mexican food -- is Like Water for Chocolate. I need to get a copy of that one, since I read it back in highschool. But I recall never wanting tortillas so badly in my entire life!