Slightly off-topic, but an interesting question: In your opinion, which films (or directors) which are not direct adaptations of Ray's work, come the closest (in your opinion) to approximating the "feel" of Bradbury's world/stories? And who do you think would be the ideal directors for adapting Bradbury? I'll give my picks later; I want to see what the rest of you have to say.
Great question. Probably Spielberg or even Ron Howard. Hitchcock?!
Rod Serling certainly gave it a try!
I think Ridley Scott would give F-145 a crisp view. Kubrick would be a shoe in for Something Wicked This Way Comes. I think Ron Howard could create a beautiful Dandelion Wine. Maybe with a hybrid of Poltergiest/Goonies Spielberg would have fun
with The Halloween Tree. I would Love to see Ray himself direct From the Dust Returned.
[This message has been edited by uncle (edited 01-14-2002).]
Changing the subject slightly, who would you cast as Montag in the 451 re-make? What about Ed Harris?
Ray once said he could never act because you have to work with a lot of people you don't like, and be told when you can work, and he could never direct because he didn't have the patience to deal with actors' egos. That being said, my first choice is an odd one: "Paris, Texas," 1984, written by Sam Shepard and directed by Wim Wenders. It's a fairly obscure film, but well-known enough that some grapefruit juice ad did a takeoff on it ten or twelve years ago. This movie starts off just a few degrees from normal and gets progressively stranger as it draws you into its spell. The first time I saw it, I hardly liked it at all, as I came in about halfway through, but when I was able to see it all the way through properly from the beginning it became one of my all-time favorites. This particular film comes immediately to mind in that one of Ray's unique gifts is in writing not so much about "things" but about the empty spaces between things--I'm thinking particularly of the stories in "The Golden Apples of the Sun" and "A Medicine for Melancholy," but many others apply. In this movie, as with much of Ray's work, as much can be read into what remains unsaid as into what is said, resulting in a peculiar delicacy hard to even describe, let alone film. Much like ice crystals on a frozen window, when you get close enough to breathe on them, they're gone. Ray says you can't say his work can't be filmed until you see "the right thing done by the right people," but some breathing on the windowpane, or, in bad cases, shattering of glass, results from mishandling of material by directors and actors. Here I could get started on the topic of clueless child actors and their lack of contribution to some of Ray's films (the best represented by Josh Saviano in "Hail and Farewell" on "Ray Bradbury Theater," the worst by a horrible little brat in "Any Friend of Nicholas Nickelby's is a Friend of Mine," with varying degrees in between) but young Hunter Carson could have handled anything, including Ray's works. He was also in Tobe Hooper's remake of "Invaders from Mars" and should have been in many more; he was really wonderful. Dean Stockwell, Walt in this film, is my favorite actor of all time, and could likewise handle any challenge. The interaction between Walt and his brother Travis (Harry Dean Stanton) is reminiscent of Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise in "Rain Man"--hmmm, how come the "Paris, Texas" guys never got Oscars? The most "Bradbury moment" dialoguewise is when the main character, Travis, explains how he ran from civilization "until there was no sign of man." The passage could have been written by Bradbury and the speaker could be Montag. The most "Bradbury moment" visually is when Travis and Hunter pull up outside that place in California with the giant outdoor dinosaurs--these were also featured in the movie "The Wizard," but not nearly as artistically as here, where the scene is done by night, the dinosaurs lit in strikingly beautiful pastels. I absolutely defy anyone to watch that scene and NOT think of Ray Bradbury! "The Wizard," like "Paris, Texas," has a lot of similarities to "Rain Man": all involve two brothers, one "normal," one not, on the road on a quest. The odd brother is fixated with getting to a certain location, be it Paris, Texas, K-Mart, or California. Like "Rain Man," "The Wizard" also has a casino scene. Although "Rain Man" got the most attention, "Paris, Texas" is by far the superior film. Other favorite scenes are: when Travis passes the screaming man on the overpass (who could easily have come from Bradbury's pen), notice how he touches the guy's arm in sympathy. The relationship between Walt and Ann has enough of a lost/empty/desperate quality to bring many Bradbury characters' relationships to mind. When Hunter is trying to explain to a friend who asks who Travis is about his family's convoluted relationships (he lives with his aunt and uncle, and when his biological father comes into his life at first gives him a response very like Agatha's to grandmother in "I Sing the Body Electric"): "He's my father's brother. No, they're both brothers. No, they're both fathers." Friend: "How'd you ever get two fathers?" Hunter: "Just lucky, I guess." Also check out the scene where Hunter is explaining Einstein to Travis over a walkie-talkie. Too many Bradbury moments to mention, including one of those endings-that-leaves-you-wondering. Just rent the film!
[This message has been edited by dandelion (edited 01-15-2002).]
It would be nice to see people with the kind of money to spend and the amount of respect for the original source as was displayed in "Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone" put to work on Bradbury's books. Chris Columbus did a fine job directing that. People judging Bradbury's writing by its film adaptations are sorely mistaken as to the full extent of what it's about. Look how many times the "Lord of the Rings" stories had to be filmed before they started to be done right. (Narnia--still waiting!) Perhaps not since 1939 has there been such a bumper crop of superior films.
There (truly) is nothing new under the sun. The established writers and successful titles over time eventually get their proper recognition or rediscovery. I see Mr. Bradbury's timeless tales coming into the bright sunlight in the very near future, not that he lacks any honors! However, with Sound of Thunder(soon we hope), considerations for F451, Ill. Man, & Martian Chronicles, his new novel, coming poems, etc., the financial backers will step forward as they too realize the significance of his life's work. The principles he has maintained over the years may be a reason the flood gates have not been torn open long ago by the movie makers and the script "adjusters". This is a credit to Mr. Bradbury, the artist.
After all, Lord of the Rings sat on the shelves for thirty years before anyone gave it much note. With all of the technology that could capture Mr. Bradbury's magic - the time has come and will soon be realized on a grand scale.
The treasure chest of his writings is being discovered daily by a whole new generation of readers. That can only be a good thing!
About 25 years ago I saw a review by Ray Bradbury of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. He thought it was just about the best movie ever - so I guess Spielberg is the answer.
Trivia: Francois Truffaut, who actually did direct a Bradbury movie (F451), was of course also in Close Encounters as an actor.
Yes, Ray Bradbury loved "Close Encounters," which left me cold. He said he wept each time. I almost wept, with frustration at how little I got out of it. It's Bradburyesque in that it skips around to a lot of different images and characters, like "Dandelion Wine" and "The Martian Chronicles," but I got a lot more out of those. Ray also saw and loved "E. T.," my favorite movie of all time. Originally Bradbury was thrilled that Spielberg was going to make "Something Wicked This Way Comes," then hurt when Spielberg bailed. Whether Bradbury is still mad at Spielberg or has seen any of his films since I do not know. I wouldn't think he'd have missed seeing the "Jurassic Park" films--but I never heard that he did see them. Anyone know?
There is one movie I saw just once, but I missed the beginning so don't know the title. I didn't recognize any of the actors, so can't look it up under their credits in the Internet Movie Database, and have no idea of the writer, director, or original source. I think I saw it on Showtime years ago. It involved a 16-year-old girl whose father worked for NASA in the early 1960s. One quite Bradburyesque aspect of this was the character of the father and his relationship to the mother. He saw himself as a vital player in a grand progress to the future, while she called him a "glorified gas station attendant" for his job fueling rockets. The 16-year-old girl had a crush on a real gas station attendant. At the end of the movie, the father, quite frantic, rousted the girl and her little brother out of bed and drove them to the beach. They didn't know whether he'd finally snapped or what. All was explained when they saw a rocket being launched. The father and children marveling on the night sands at this glowing rocket ascending to the heavens was a perfect Bradbury ending image. Too bad I didn't pay more attention to this film, it was great, and credit goes to whoever can identify it.
Know what other movie made me think of Bradbury? You'll never believe it-- "Dirty Dancing"! I saw this eight times and the first several times thought I was losing my mind. I must have od'd on Ray Bradbury, because surely he never wrote anything like this? I finally realized the resort, the rich girl/poor boy romance, and the rich characters' treatment of the poor boy, must have reminded me of the Bradbury story "Some Live Like Lazarus." There was also that when-worlds-collide aspect of the history of the resort and its place in changing times. The manager recognized it by saying, "trips to Europe, that's what the kids want! Twenty-two countries in three days!" The scene where the manager and the old black tap dancer dance on stage, the ballroom dancing, some of the night scenes, have a very Bradbury feel. The setting of "Someone in the Rain" from "Driving Blind," with its images of rain, and the general unpleasantness of the main female character, are reminiscent of some of the weather, and a couple of the royal bitches in "Dirty Dancing." I liked the "Dirty Dancing" scene where Baby (Jennifer Grey) dances by herself on the steps. An isolated character in a large landscape, not interacting with any other person, and yet the reader/viewer experiences exactly what that person is going through. Worthy of Ray himself!
[This message has been edited by dandelion (edited 01-14-2002).]
Hate to say this... but Rod Serling wasn't a director, he was a writer. Twilight Zone's I Sing The Body Electric was directed by James Sheldon and William Claxton
Kind of appropriate the 13th post here should deal with "Apollo 13." I agree, Ron Howard would do a great job directing Bradbury's work! Not only the artistic vision of the space scenes, but the scene with the two astronauts sniping at each other and captain interceding to smooth things over, where they all agree they just want to get home, is VERY reminiscent of "Kaleidoscope" and other Bradbury works dealing with the emotional reaction of human beings to the isolation of space, stories written decades before the real-life action of "Apollo 13," and so true to life! Also a very good job cutting back and forth between the astronauts in space and their families on earth, so the film does not "lose" the viewer as does the disjointed "Close Encounters." (And just thinking of Tom Hanks playing an astronaut in "The Martian Chronicles" gets me all excited!)
"Dirty Dancing" is quite a stretch...
I like what Ron Howard did with "Cocoon," "Backdraft," and "A Beautiful Mind."
A film directed by Joel Shulmaker(spelling)
("Flatliners") was spooky, riveting, and believable. Maybe Joel would be a Bradbury contender.
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