Saturday, February 10, 2007

Leitch on Lecter and Holmes

Excellent observation from Kirkus Mysteries editor Thomas Leitch on the new Hannibal Lecter novel in the January 1st issue:
Harris’s prequel suggests a revealing analogy: the origin stories of comic-book superheroes from Superman to Batman when they jump the shark to the silver screen. Instead of simply borrowing the opening chapters that kicked off their four-color adventures, these prequels, heavy with retrospective knowledge, have to load each detail with ironic significance even as they’re pumping up the story with Hollywood firepower. The result is a demystification that leaves heroes looking less heroic and villains less villainous, because, after all, they’re just reacting to the past histories that have been created specifically for them to react to.

The obvious contrast to the comic-book analogy is Sherlock Holmes, the mythic sleuth whose adventures Conan Doyle chronicled for 40 years without ever yielding to the temptation to provide him with a backstory. Even though he’s a Victorian good guy rather than a contemporary bad guy, Holmes retains more essential mystery than Lecter because the qualities that make him so memorable are never explained away except in pastiches by lesser hands.

Can you say Anakin Skywalker? (Without cringing?) I read a spoiler online about the cause of Lecter's...acting out. I expect he'll be on Oprah's coach any day now.


This piece on Clint Eastwood in The Guardian considers the idea of classifying the director (never a favorite of mine, though I liked Iwo Jima well enough) according to Andrew Sarris's immortal categories (Pantheon, Far Side of Paradise, etc.). He also argues that The Outlaw Josey Wales is the director's best film, taking no pains to avoid mentioning that Eastwood took over the project from Philip Kaufman. Never seen that one, but now I'm curious.


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