Adventure, 100 Minutes, 1991
[My daughter recently discovered that all her Jewish friends go the movies on Christmas day. She came up with the idea of watching a movie for each night of Hanukkah. Also, by accident, we’ve apparently watched them in chronological order. This is number six!]
Few director’s can really capture the spirit of a book. Most fail utterly by considering the source material some kind of general guide rather than dogma. They’ll change things as they please and, in fits of completely unwarranted egotism, add original material that can’t possibly compare to the original but is given more attention. These people make authors cry (but are often paid handsomely by the SyFy Channel).
Much more rare are those that completely honor the source material. As you watch you know that this (whatever it is) is exactly what the author had in mind. It may be edited for time and may take some visual liberties but it’s exactly the story you love realized with all the care and compassion that you could hope. These kind of people make authors cry as well (but the good kind of crying – for joy).
Even more rarely a director takes a work and somehow, almost magically, both completely ignores the particulars and still utterly captures the soul of it. Wes Anderson [IMDB] did that with Fantastic Mr Fox. He took a charming, if somewhat one-dimensional, children’s book and began adding layers. Wit, charm and an oh-so-subtle veneer of social commentary. Then he presented it all with some of the most outstandingly warm animation ever put to film. Wes Anderson makes authors cringe, wince and scratch their heads – but he leaves them smiling.
It’s deceptively deep and handsomely rewards multiple viewings. You’ll constantly discover small visual gags, subtle wordplay and realized metaphors. It’s a gorgeous movie that makes you feel good when you watch it. So don’t cuss around! Watch it! Watch the cuss out of it!