Saturday, 11 July 2009

Last Battle, Quantum of Solace, and Hair

I got The Last Battle from the library today. I also just finished reading it.

I know I had said that I would wait to get my hands on Prince Caspian and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe before starting the final of the series, but I am beginning to suspect that the library's collection is incomplete. There were no books there that I hadn't read recently, so picked up The Last Battle anyway.

Those books are way better when you're older. I had no idea. I won't try to spoil too much, but so much about that book was excellent. People have accused Lewis of anti-Semitism (Philip Pullman says he's "blatantly racist") and I can see that in this book. I must constantly remind people, though, that Lewis was writing from his time period. Lewis' treatment of particular Calormenes (if you've read and can recall The Last Battle, I'm thinking of Emeth here, among others) I think indicates that his understanding of Middle Eastern peoples was perhaps more liberal than some give him credit for, especially considering the culture Lewis came from.

Anyway, I would like to put parts of it on here, but, again, I don't want to spoil it for anyone. I think this one will be cinematic gold, though.

Oh, one final point (that is a bit of a spoiler, and likely full of Christianese; skip this paragraph if you like), relating to what Yolanda said in an earlier comment: I'm not sure how lost Susan is. At least, it seems to me that she might yet have a chance at redemption in England, if not Narnia. If you're out-right predestinationist (is that a word?), then you'll note that Susan has been to Narnia in the first place, so I am fairly sure she was called and therefore saved. If you do concede some sort of free will (or full-fledged free will), then she still has time to save herself, since England hasn't ended yet. In which case, I don't think Susan is utterly lost. She's a warning, though.

Anyway, I am really thinking of trying to see if I can get the whole collection somewhere. It would be worth it.

One can also borrow movies from the library, though only for a week. I borrowed Quantum of Solace and watched it today. Re-watching it indicated to me one of the things I liked about that movie. What I liked is that Bond had a chance to redeem himself, and took it. It gave at least a token concern to Bond as a character. As someone who's seen Bond as a legendary fiction since childhood--iconic on the level of Indiana Jones or Sherlock Holmes--this sort of thing deeply fascinates me. On second watching, I also still find the plot quite easy to follow. I'm not sure where people are getting confused. Perhaps it's a lack of familiarity with how plot moves in a 007 movie?

I got a haircut today. I'm not so sure I like it. It's a bit too long in the front.


Jon Wong said...

From what I've gathered, the complaint about Quantum of Solace is not exactly that it's hard to follow per se. It's that it was made needlessly complicated. These are 2 different things. I can't remember the details now (not having seen the film since we saw it in theatres), but while I don't recall thinking to myself "I'm so confused!" at any point, I do recall thinking, when it all came together at the end, "Hmm, not a whole lot actually happened (barring gratuitous action) considering how much we supposedly witnessed in the last 2 hours".

I don't know about you but this, more than "confused," is what the majority of people to whom I've spoken seem to think of Quantum of Solace.

Christian H said...

Hm. I hadn't heard that complaint. What I had heard (or think I recall hearing) were two different instances of people saying it was confusing. But then maybe I misremember. Maybe it was "too complicated," which might be the same as confusing but also might not be?

Too complicated? Bah. Complication drives most plots, especially action movie ones. What happens in Hamlet? Hamlet sees a ghost; he dithers for five acts; everyone dies horribly. What happens in Lord of the Rings? Sauron discovers who has the ring; the Fellowship heads out to the Cracks of Doom; they get sidetracked a whole lot and split up; there are strategic battles; they destroy the ring. Moria, Helm's Deep, Frodo and Sam getting snatched by Feromir, Shelob, Frodo getting nabbed by orcs...these were all "just" complications, too. I guess you could complain that the complications in Quantum were not convincing or interesting. I thought they were, given the context, but I can see how one might not.

Jon Wong said...

The difference in LOTR is that, aside from having more than 1 character who could be described as "central", all the "complications," as you call them, do not claim to have a direct bearing on the central plot. We know, for example, that the Battles of Helms Deep is something significant in itself. Therefore, it doesn't matter (and is indeed good) that it doesn't actually affect Frodo's quest to destroy the ring.

Not so in Quantum of Solace. You got the idea that everything that happened - all the complications - all occur because they are significant to the actual end result of the plot. Then when you find out the "truth," you realized that they made it needlessly complicated. Needless because the complications didn't claim to have their own merit; rather, they claimed to have a direct bearing on what would be revealed at the end of the film. They made it seem as if you would be like "Oh, so that's why that scene way back was important". Except that they didn't. So it all felt rather overdone.

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