Top Five Tuesdays: If You Liked The Film…

Top Five Tuesdays is a new semi-regular feature in The Book Hooligan that presents a list (either ordered by rank or haphazardly) about anything book-related that interests me.

For those people who have intersecting interests in film and in books, there are some moments when you see similarities with a movie that you’ve seen and a book that you’ve read. Such moments, especially if the movie and the book is not linked or related, is a revelation as your two hobbies intersect in a way that you have not planned. Here are some books that I recommend for those who have watched the films that I mentioned here.

1.The Big Lebowski by The Coen Brothers  -> Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon

Inherent Vice and The Big Lebowski are so glaringly similar that one could accuse the other of not being original if not for their creators who are known for spinning unique story lines. And where would I start between the glaring similarities between the two?

Both share the same characteristics that give them a very unique and amazing feel. The main protagonists, Larry “Doc” Sportello and Jeff “The Dude” Sportello, differ only in their jobs but they otherwise have the same personalities as both are easy-going, smart, funny, and ridiculously charming. Both are involved in a conspiracy involving the disappearance of very rich people. The setting, a very psychedelic Los Angeles, is also the same with the same weird atmosphere and which contains a very eclectic and eccentric cast of characters. And, lastly, both works is an ode to the world of LA minus the glam of Hollywood, the LA that is seedy and weird.

2. Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen  -> A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

If you’ve seen Midnight in Paris, you may have swooned over how Woody Allen presented Paris of the 1920s, a Paris filled with artistic and cultural magic. Imagine Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Stein, Picasso, Dali, Bunuel, and other giants living in the same city but, sad to say, such a magic ended after 94 minutes. Luckily, if you have a Midnight in Paris hangover, you can always pickup Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast in order to relive, once again, 1920s Paris.

However, be warned, that, unlike Woody Allen, Hemingway portrays his contemporaries in a less flattering light. In a Moveable Feast, Allen’s charming Fitzgerald is an uncontrollable drunkard; his endearing Gertrude Stein is sometimes insufferable and suffers from relationship problems; his adorable Zelda Fitzgerald is a jealous and controlling bitch; and many other characterizations that are different from what we’ve seen from Woody Allen. But, the one thing that never differs is the beautiful city of Paris which possesses the same vibrant and magical quality in the lens of Woody Allen and in the pages of Ernest Hemingway.

3. The Time Traveler’s Wife  by Robert Schwentke  -> Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Okay, this may be cheating because The Time Traveler’s Wife is actually based on a book of the same name but I never read the book and only saw the film so cut me some slack.

Both books are not actually similar in anything but a part of the premise. You see, both of the antagonists of the book share the same problem of, as Vonnegut called it, being unstuck in time which means that both protagonists experience their lives in a non-linear way. This premise is the driving force behind these two works. The effect of pernicious time is explored in the movie as something that separates lovers. Something that is more severe than physical distance and the fact that the wife knows that his husband will die and that she is helpless to stop it aggravates their situation. On the other hand, the book uses the same time-travelling aspect but presents it as a critique of free will, fate, and war through the eyes of a war veteran that has seen the worst side of humanity.

4.Der Untergang (Downfall) by Oliver Hirschbiegel -> The Autumn of The Patriarch by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

It is very hard and difficult to humanize a dictator, especially one that has drove a country to its ruin and killed millions of people but this is one of the important premise of the German film Downfall,  a film about Hitler’s last days, and Marquez’s Autumn of the Patriarch, a novel about the life of a dictator.

The film and book share the same humanizing capacity for its main characters even though we know that what they did, in real life and in fiction, are really the epitome of evil. Hitler killed millions of Jews while the unnamed dictator in Autumn of the Patriarch killed thousands of children yet there are certain points in the film and the book that makes you pity and sympathize with the protagonists as you remember that they are humans that share the same insecurities and the same loves as you do. The only difference is that they descended into an abyss from which they cannot redeem themselves.

5. A Serious Man by The Coen Brothers -> The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon

The Jewish experience is one of the most used and most interesting themes in fiction. Judaism has a unique culture; a unique history; and such a wide presence in the world of fiction that many Jewish storytellers are creating stories based on their history and culture.

Perhaps these two works of fiction, created by three of the most creative minds in fiction, can encapsulate some of the most pressing concerns of not only the Jewish people but also people of different races or creeds. Minus the investigative plot of The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, the book and the film are very similar. They both have protagonists that are suffering from a midlife crisis about their identity, their domestic and professional life, and their continuing existence while subsequently discovering that they cannot use their faith from the assaults of life. Both stories end with a question about the true nature of a morality and of a world where good deeds are punished and where good men drown.

There you have it. Some of the books that I recommend if you have watched the films. Although I will not guarantee that you will see the same similarities that I did. What I can guarantee to a certain degree is that the books listed here are books that I have liked immensely and I would instantly recommend without the pretense that it may have similarities with the films that you have watched.

How about you? Have you seen any film lately that you think has similarities with a book that you have read? Do tell me in the comments section.

 

 

 

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