Thursday, February 7, 2013

Differing Points of View

I recently compared two Miss Marple movies. It is something I've been meaning to do because I was curious about how similar or not they would be considering that they had identical source material but everything else associated with the productions was different.  Several actresses have played the role and the more familiar versions were produced by the BBC and telecast on Masterpiece Mystery.

Though they shared the same title, the script and performances in At Bertram's Hotel were so different that I headed to the Internet to refresh my memory of the plot.  Then I tried the same comparison with Hound of the Baskervilles and Sense and Sensibility.  The experiment works only with identical source material so the Batman films, for example, would not work because all those plots are different.

You may want to attribute the variances to the actors however I suggest that writer and director had things within the original story they wanted to stress. That influenced how lines of dialogue were written and how scenes were shot. Perhaps one version examines relationships while another stresses more action, as I found with the two Miss Marples.

The exercise demonstrates how personal interpretations of identical material can lead to very different films. It illustrates how two people can read the same news story and get entirely different things from it. Everything we read or hear is colored by our own history and viewpoint. That is what makes human communication so fraught with problems. Watching two or more films taken from the same book or story reminds us of that in an entertaining way.

At this time of year, when you may find yourself forced inside by the weather, try it yourself with some of your favorites.  There are plenty of other Holmes stories to use. All of Shakespeare's plays are available in multiple releases. If you want to make similar comparisons, be sure to select films/programs that use identical source material. 

It's a great way to spend a winter day.  Happy discovery.

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