Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Revised- Clue: from board game to film

You have six suspects, one body. So, who's the killer? Was it Mr. Green with the lead pipe in the lounge or could it of been Miss Scarlet with the candle stick in the kitchen? No matter who actually is the mastermind behind the death of Mr. Body, one things for sure: Clue, the movie, does a great job transferring over to film the circumstances and elements that make the board game original and riveting. 

The Characters
In the board game we have the characters Mrs. Peacock, Colonel Mustard, Mr. Green, Professor Plum, Miss Scarlet, and Mrs. White.  An attribute of each of these characters is a specific color that makes their game piece recognizable. In the film, however, each character (although in deed having an article of clothing / item of the color from their board game piece) has a deep and rich backstory.  This backstory acts the same way as the game piece color.  It makes the specific character easily distinguishable. With this additional back story, the characters become more intricate and stronger possibilities for who killed Mr. Body. 

In the film version, there is an addition of three characters: The Butler, Yvette and The Cook. They were all a delight to watch (because they were each just so darn quirky!) but additionally they all aided in the telling of the story. The Butler is a constant aspect throughout the story- almost like a reflection of us, the audience, as players. When playing the board game there is always the possibility that you are the killer (but just don't know it!) As we watch The Butler "help" the 6 guests, there is always the possibility in the back of our heads that he is indeed the killer. 

The Locations
In the board game we have the kitchen, dining room, lounge, ballroom, hall, conservatory, billiard room, library, and study. The film version contains practically all of these locations. The best representation of this board game-like feeling is exhibited in the alternate endings when the butler goes through a step-by-step break down of how all the murders played out.  He, along with the suspects, frantically run from room to room, clearly paralleling their hectic nature to that of the game.

Alternate Endings
In the board game there are many possibilities for who committed the murder, what object, and where. The masterminds behind the film version were witty enough to transfer this ambiguity over to the story version by giving us three possible endings.  These endings were screened at various theaters, therefore making the audience practically a player themselves.

I personally found 2 of the 3 possible endings to be a joke. They were just flat out uneventful and felt like a waste of my time. Part of this is probably because this film is not at all a true mystery: although they are trying to "figure out" who the killer is, they never actually find specific clues that could possibly pertain to one character- thus, the ending can easily be swapped out. Anyhow, the one ending that did work was the most absurd of the bunch: we find out that Professor Plum is an undercover spy who was sent on a mission. Wonderful ending in my opinion! 

The genre/feeling conveyed through the aesthetics of the board game is seemingly that of a mystery. However, the true nature of a board game, is that of fun which in turn is transferable to the genre of comedy.  Therefore it is not surprising when we find the genre of the film that of a comedic mystery.

All in all, the film version of Clue does a great job capturing the essence of the board game. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Jesus' Son: from book to film

Jesus' son is a book (and film) made up of many moments experienced by the protagonist, a messed up druggie, named Dennis Johnson. The book does not present much of a story arc, however, it does convey a certain feeling of passing by through moments quite quickly and people leaving and never being a constant. The film version incorporates the stories in the book, but applies a clearer character/story arc, showcasing his need to be with people and how drugs brought him closer to certain people, then tore him away.

After reading the book I assumed that the film would have a dark morose feeling: this, I was wrong about!  The film adopted a very comedic (yet still sad) outlook, making all of the characters seem almost idiotic. The drugged out sequences were very chaotic and odd- for instance, the scene (taken from the book) where Dennis sees his friend's naked wife parasailing past the window. The film presented this by having it come as sort of a random spur of the moment event, leaving us with the question of both: who is that? -and- what on earth? Like a set up punchline sort of comedic style, these questions are answered when Dennis' friend reveals the woman to be his wife. In the book it is impossible to reveal information as humorously.

In the book there is not much of an arc, but rather, moments of hope. An odd, but life-changing event of his life, Dennis spectates on a Muslim woman's way of life. Additionally, we see him as he begins to go through the process of ridding himself of his drug-bound lifestyle. In the film, more emphasis is placed upon these moments. The film applied more fantastical elements to the story then were eluded to in the book. This is probably because moments of fantasy best summed up the feelings of being high in a visual manner. Continuing off of this- during one of the scenes were Dennis is watching the Muslim woman, we see him [magically] place his hand through the window and onto her head. Although effectively summing up his transformation as a person (now he is fully aware of others and cares for them despite having any real reason), I felt as though this effect was a bit odd. To me it was an awkward moment to see his hand on her head, rather than a sweet and heart warming moment.

In the film (and book) we watch Dennis immerse himself into the realities of how easy it is for something to disappear from ones life.  We see this through the car crash, the death of his friend from a bad drugs (that could of and should of killed him too), the death of his girlfriend, the hospital, the death of the baby rabbits, and the old folks home. The film effectively utilized these stories and additionally found a way to harness them altogether: the film starts with the car crash and later on goes back to it. This applies a sense of closure to his character: he finally seems to realize that things are constantly changing and that one moment you have something, the next you don't.

All in all, I feel as though this film adaptation was quite brilliant. It not only provided a clearer structure/arc to the series of stories and moments, but additionally provided viewers with a deeper understanding of what Dennis was feeling by paralleling the effects of drugs with fantastical imagery. I would suggest watching the film if you have time.