Tuesday, August 01, 2006

TRISTRAM SHANDY: A COCK AND BULL STORY


Movie of the week.
TRISTRAM SHANDY: A COCK AND BULL STORY

Back in the year 2000, director Terry Gilliam attempted to remake the story of Don Quixote. Terry Gilliam, a Monty Python member, made such great movies such as Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Brazil, 12 Monkeys, The Fisher King, and many more, so it promised to be comic and visually imaginative, and it was to star Johnny Depp. The project was beset by freak weather, illness, and injury, and by cost overruns, and eventually, had to be cancelled. That movie was never made. However, what was made was a documentary about the making of that movie called Lost in La Mancha. It had as much drama, and comedy, and suspense, and character development as you may have found in the original movie. Tristram Shandy is a little like that.

If you were a student of English Lit back in school, you may have read "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman.", upon which this movie is based. Written before rules were established about how to write a novel, it is considered a comic masterpiece. It was also considered to be completely unfilmable. This is because there is no straight line narrative. He describes the events surrounding his birth, but he never gets around to it. The narrative is constantly interrupted by going off into tangents, jumping around in time, and giving his opinions on various subjects. In the movie, this is further complicated, as some of the tangents involve the making of the movie.

In the opening scene, the two main characters are getting their makeup applied while discussing whether the color of their teeth is appropriate for the period, and whether the secondary character should be a supporting role or a "co-". In another scene he tells you that, "This is a postmodern novel before there was any modernism to be post about."

This movie is being compared to This is Spinal Tap, in that it is a mock documentary. Although it has those parallels, Tristram Shandy differs in that the actors come in and out of character throughout the film. It's very very funny, in a "British" sort of way. Steve Coogan, who plays the title role tells the viewers, "This is a cock and bull story. This is the bull (points to a bull in the yard). I'll show you the cock a little later."

What makes this movie so fun to watch?
  1. This is going to be one of those quotable movies. Think of Spinal Tap's: "My amplifier goes to 11. It's 1 louder."
  2. It's a cock and bull story. Draw your own conclusions.
  3. Gillian Anderson plays Gillian Anderson.
  4. Based on an English Lit classic, so it's bound to make you smarter.
  5. The "hot chestnuts" scene.
  6. The adaptation is true to the "spirit" of the novel. There were no movie directors or cameramen in the novel because they taken out during editing.
  7. It's 1 louder than the novel.
  8. Steve Coogan in a giant womb .......... yeah.
  9. This is the perfect format for the material.
  10. It's only an hour and a half, what the hell?
Enjoy.

2 Comments:

At 9:40 PM, Blogger Jan Andrea said...

Very amusing, in a very British way. I am tempted to get the book out of the library and then not finish it.

 
At 11:24 PM, Blogger FranksFilms said...

Very much in the spirit of the film.

 

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