On the Road

Saturday, 24 March 2012

On the Road

On the Road

I reviewed On the Road a while back, but I'm re-reading it now after viewing the trailer for its film adaptation countless times. I'll never get tired of this particular quote. A lot of people have told me they're afraid to see the film in case it ruins the memory of the book for them. I'm not sure I care whether I end up disappointed by the film or not. A film adaptation can never really ruin a book for me, because even if I don't like an interpretation of a particular novel on screen, it nevertheless compels me to return to the original text and examine it anew. And I really hope that the film version of On the Road will inspire a new generation of readers for Jack Kerouac. I still remember that electric feeling of first reading his work all those years ago.

Image sources: the first is a film still from On the Road, found via The Beat Museum. The second image is my own.

19 comments:

odessa said...

Haha, I'm one of those who's a little anxious about the film. I think mostly because I love the book so much and feel protective about it. The Beat Generation has enough stereotypes as it is, I'm afraid that if the film fails to capture the spirit of the book, it will only add to the negative impression.

But like I said before, Walter Salles has never disappointed me in all of his works, I trust that he did a good job on this one, too.

jessica sandoval said...

I am *so* excited for this movie, it's ridiculous. At first I, too, was afraid it would be ruined for me, but it doesn't matter-- I'm just so excited to see these actors take on the characters!

Mariella said...

The book and all Jack Kerouac work in general has played such an important role in my love for literature and books that yes, I am among those a little scared to see the movie. It won't ruin my memories, but it can make the 15 years old me who just adored Kerouac a little mad if I don't like it...but I think I'd watch it nevertheless...

Sophia said...

I was always on the side of those being nervous about a book turned to film and then I would go from nervous to furious mainly because I wouldn't accept the fact that the director and/or production had to make choices for reasons I was unable to understand. As I got older, I kinda shifted towards the direction you're talking about which I guess is wiser and more modest in a way...

Monica said...

oh a film could never ruin a book for me. the book would always remain within.

my anxiety in seeing a film badly portraying a book is when one is enamoured with the original work. it is a family, close friends, memories, a history... no one in love wants their beloved misinterpreted.

and also, being such a fan of film of the visual aesthetic, but not a film-maker, i pin my hope on the creators to bring a book to life for us.

Hotly Spiced said...

I think this is a movie I will definitely try and see. And I'm with you re adaptations. The thing is books and movies are different mediums and so the stories will never be one and the same. You have to accept that when you walk into a theatre having read the book, that you're going to be in for a different experience xx

niclas said...

I'm a little bit nervous about Sam Riley as Sal. I really don't see why they used him for the role. But at the same time I'm very excited to see Viggo Mortensen as Old Bull Lee.

Kelly said...

Not nervous, but hoping the movie doesn't just inspire lots of surface, "style" commentaries that neatly package the Beats into something easily digestible.

Just read your older review of the book. Thank you. I had dismissed re-reading it, feeling it was all youthful romantic energy, but there's so much more there. And being such a "wanting" romantic myself in my day, it feels too cynical to turn my back on that now.

rooth said...

You're remind me - I've got to reread this. I am a little worried about films that ruin books too so I've got to read quickly

twinkilingeyes said...

i am going to speak from the side of the people who didn't read the book...the book (the quote you had shared) seems a great read...for some reason i think it will be an interesting road trip with loads of discovery....
from my experience and views from books who turned into movies...the movie is ALWAYS disappointing...some more than the others...they always seem to forgot the soul of the book and forgot about the tiniest details that make the book what it is and what makes you love it....like the described sounds...the feel of the touch on surfaces...its textures...the light & shades....
Although i have one exception to this this rule and those are the movies of Nicolas sparks books (no disrespect to anyone) he’s the only one I can think of ...i don't know for me the movies are wayyyyy better than the book...like “a walk to remember”, “a message in a bottle”...
So for this book, so that I avoid the disappointment and not repeat my mistakes, I am going to see the movie then read the book and hopefully it would be a success.

Lies said...

I read On The Road when I was thirteen or so and in hindsight I was probably too young to appreciate it fully at that age but still, I was completely immersed in the Beat Generation for a while and read a lot of other works by other Beat poets and read up on the history of this generation. Some of these things have stuck by me for the last five years and I feel like reading them anew with a fresh perspective.

I will never forget that quote. It is just so incredibly powerful. Even when reading it aloud, you immediately adapt some natural kind of cadence because it's so powerful and straight from Kerouac's mind. It's a difficult book in my opinion and perhaps illegible to some but still, the message it brings across is universal: live!

Obviously I should read it anew! Definitely going on my summer shortlist.

And about the movie, I don't know, the setting, the era looks lovely visually and I'm going to go see it with an open mind!

Hila said...

Odessa: I do know what you mean, I expect any film adaptation of the novel to be steeped in the cliche of the 'hipster' beat generation. But we'll have to wait and see ...

Jessica: I'm excited and so curious, I just want to see what will be done with it.

Mariella: mad is good, but I still want to see it, even if it disappoints.

Sophia: I think everyone interprets books differently, so it's unfair to expect a filmmaker or director to align our own subjective thoughts perfectly his/her own.

Monica: Yes, I'm all for critical analysis of a badly done adaptation, I'm just afraid of people dismissing all adaptations when they compare the original work with the film.

Hotly Spiced: That's what I think too. I think a lot of people unrealistically expect a film version depicting exactly how they saw the novel in their heads. That's never going to happen.

Niclas: hmm, we'll have to wait and see how they do ... :)

Kelly: Yes, I think that might end up happening - it's so easy to romanticise authors, and even easier to romanticise the beats as something easily digestible. I hope this film doesn't do that. I went through a phase where I dismissed On the Road too as youthful idealisation, but the more I read it, the more I realised it's much more than that.

Rooth: Don't worry, a single film can't ruin a book :)

twinklingeyes: I've seen quite a few films that are better than the books, and although some adaptations are bad and disappointing, I like to give adaptations a chance.

Lies: I think it is a difficult book, and I can understand why some people would not like it. But I've learned to really appreciate it.

Tracey said...

You've inspired me to re-read the book. I am a little worried about the film, but I'm always that way about adaptations of books. But yes, like you even if a movie adaptation is bad, it's not going to ruin the book for me.
:)

Rambling Tart said...

I've never read anything by him, but absolutely must after reading this quote. Love it. Thank you, Hila. :-) I love how you always open my eyes to new words, books, and films. :-)

Gracia said...

I'm with Tracey, you've inspired me to reread On the Road. I have long thought I would leave it as I remembered it, alongside Beautiful Losers and my teenage years, but I will dip once more into Kerouac. That quote you've included makes it impossible to do otherwise.

(Growing up, I remember loving the sound of his voice. I recall seeing an interview with him and he read some of his text. I can't remember much else. Just the voice. But, I am rambling... back to my Tuesday.)

g xo

SARAH said...

That seems like a good way to embrace adaptations. There could never be a film that perfectly captures Kerouac's writing, so it will just be a treat to see how the book comes alive.

P.S. I didn't even know that this film was coming out, but now my high school self who was obsessed with OTR is stoked!

Chuck said...

I think the trailer looks fab. But then I haven't read the book. Maybe it is worth watching the film first? I'd normally disagree with that but perhaps I'd get more pleasure out of the film if I'm not constantly comparing it and the film won't have an impact on my pleasure in the book later... Hmm. Interested to see Sam Riley doing Kerouac anyway. x

sight said...

I will be interested in seeing how the meandering, dreamy style of the book is brought to film.
On the Road was an important book for me when I was a teenager, but since then i have grown away from it.
I wonder if the adaptation will bring back those feelings?

Hila said...

Tracey: at the very least, the film is inspiring a return to the book.

Rambling Tart: then you should definitely give his work a try.

Gracia: I don't think I've heard his voice, but now you've intrigued me now ...

Sarah: me too, my excitement about this film brings back so many teenage memories.

Chuck: You should do what works for you. I have no problem reading the book first, but I have plenty of friends who feel the same as you - that they'd be comparing the film with the book too much.

Sight: I'd be interested to see how all the internal aspects of the novel are made visual.