• MT VOID, 08/19/22 -- Vol. 41, No. 8, Whole Number 2237

    From evelynchimelisleeper@gmail.com@21:1/5 to All on Sun Aug 21 06:27:55 2022
    08/19/22 -- Vol. 41, No. 8, Whole Number 2237

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    Six Lost Worlds: The Dramatic Adaptations of Sir Arthur
    Conan Doyle's Novel (Part 5) (film comments
    by Mark R. Leeper)
    THE LOST WORLD (1999) and Tarzan (letter of comment
    by Peter Rubinstein)
    John Maynard Keynes and Adam Smith (letters of comment
    by Gary McGath, Kevin R, and Robert Woodward)
    This Week's Reading (KWAIDAN, KWAIDAN by Lafcadio Hearn)
    (book and film comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)


    TOPIC: Six Lost Worlds: The Dramatic Adaptations of Sir Arthur
    Conan Doyle's Novel (Part 5) (film comments by Mark R. Leeper)

    [continued from last week]


    Sadly after the one reasonably good film version in 1925, there are
    no satisfying versions of Doyle novel. All versions have been too
    anxious to introduce new characters, frequently love interests.
    And some try to make political points. This is just not a novel
    that has been treated very well in its film adaptations. Ordering
    them best to worst, identifying them with the person playing
    Challenger and the year I would say:

    1. Wallace Beery 1925
    2. Bob Hoskins 2001
    3. Patrick Bergin 1998
    4. Claude Rains 1960
    5. John Rhys-Davies 1992
    6. Peter McCauley 1999

    It should be noted that the 1997 film THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK
    is based on the Michael Crichton novel of the same name. Nothing
    that I have ever seen has ever connected it with the Doyle's THE
    LOST WORLD. I nevertheless notice that there are several plot
    parallels to film versions of THE LOST WORLD. One man claims there
    is an isolated place in South America where dinosaurs can be found.
    There is an expedition to find the place. After a struggle
    against the dinosaurs, one is brought back to a modern city where
    it escapes and goes on a rampage. It is hard for me to not see
    this as a sort of tribute or homage to the film versions of the

    There have also been audio versions of the story. Unfortunately, I
    do not know of where any but one are available. BBC Radio did
    productions of the story in 1938, 1944, 1949, 1952, 1958, 1975, and
    2013. I have not heard these versions, nor would I know even where
    to search for them. Any pointers from readers to where to find
    these or other adaptations would be welcome. I have heard an
    audio-book abridgment read by James Mason. He was chosen, no doubt,
    because of his association with two classic films based on more
    classic science fiction books, TWENTY THOUSAND LEAGUES UNDER THE
    SEA and JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, albeit books by Jules
    Verne not Arthur Conan Doyle. The one audio dramatization I have
    heard was not one I had much hope for and it was about what I


    "Alien Voices" is an audio theater company specializing in science
    fiction stories. It is built around three actors associated with
    three different series of STAR TREK. The actors are Leonard Nimoy
    (formerly Spock), John de Lancie (Q), and Armin Shimerman (Quark).
    "Alien Voices" seems frequently also associated with the cable
    Sci-Fi Channel. The drama group seems to specialize in doing the
    classic science fiction stories from the likes of H. G. Wells,
    Jules Verne, and Arthur Conan Doyle.

    There are a number of faults built into any "Alien Voices"
    production. The first is that the three actors are overly familiar
    and overly associated in other roles. They also have
    characteristic voices. That makes it almost impossible to lose
    them in their character. Through ego, I suspect, they don't want
    to be lost in the roles either. One does not have Lord John Roxton
    as a character so much as John de Lancie DOING Lord John Roxton as
    the character. The acting is uniformly weak. They use their own
    voices rather than using dramatic tricks to change them and at the
    same time other actors are exaggerating accents unrealistically.
    Thus the actors and scriptwriter make very clear that they do not
    take the material seriously and they do not expect the audience to
    do so either. It is supposed to be all in good fun, but it makes
    it very hard to appreciate the stories. In any case the length of
    the stories is on the order of forty-five minutes, which it really
    not enough time to do justice to the novels they are adapting and
    too much time is spent on the humor. In addition, what is there is
    not faithful to the novels. That is not uncommon in dramatic
    adaptations, but they take particularly large liberties. In the
    case of THE LOST WORLD, Summerlee is a woman and becomes a love
    interest for Edward Malone. There are little sexual double
    entendres and other references that the Victorian Doyle would never
    have wanted in a novel intended as wholesome entertainment for "the
    boy who's half man or the man who's half boy."
    The story is told as the newspaper editor McArdle (Leonard Nimoy
    with no effort to sound Scottish) reading dispatches from Edward
    Malone. Just how these dispatches are supposed to get to London
    from the top of the plateau is unclear, but in this version not a
    lot of time is spent actually on the plateau. That part of the
    story, what should be the shank, is much abbreviated. In fact,
    there are only two encounters with dinosaurs on the plateau. While
    that part has a few of the essentials from the novel, it is the
    least compelling sequence of the dramatization. That may be
    because the virtues of that part of the story are mostly visual.

    In any case this adaptation is at best half-hearted and of all the
    versions in covered in this article, it is the one least likely to
    capture the imagination of a young new-comer.

    There has never been a fully satisfying adaptation of Doyle's
    novel. After a span of ten years in which there were four
    cinematic versions, it seems unlikely there will be another one for
    a while. However, that was what I would have thought after three
    adaptations and we got still one more. As special effect
    technology improves, the fascination that virtually everybody has
    with dinosaurs, will lead more people to try to render them
    realistically on the screen. Then they will want to put them in
    adventure stories. Some of Edgar Rice Burroughs is a possibility.
    But really there is only one major classic adventure story with
    dinosaurs. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote it in 1912. It's THE LOST



    TOPIC: THE LOST WORLD (1999) and Tarzan (letter of comment by Peter Rubinstein)

    In response to Mark's comments on THE LOST WORLD (1999) in the
    08/12/22 issue of the MT VOID, Peter Rubinstein writes:

    [Mark writes,] "On the plateau the explorers find Veronica, a
    Sheena-like jungle girl clad in a brief leather two-piece. She
    also is an abundant source of cleavage and is the last survivor of
    a previous expedition that included her parents. She has grown up
    on the plateau, and she lives in a fantastic tree house beyond
    anything Tarzan imagined. It even has an elevator." [-mrl]

    I haven’t seen this version, but I would point out that the later
    Tarzan movies show his treehouse with an elevator. (Powered by
    pachyderm) [-pr]


    TOPIC: John Maynard Keynes and Adam Smith (letters of comment by
    Gary McGath, Kevin R, and Robert Woodward)

    In response to the quote from John Maynard Keynes in the 08/12/22
    issue of the MT VOID ("Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that
    the nastiest of men, for the nastiest of motives, will somehow work
    for the benefit of us all."), Gary McGath writes:

    Keynes thought that being more well-off and comfortable and having
    nice stuff is "the nastiest of motives"? That explains a lot about
    him. [-gmg]

    Kevin R responds:

    JMK was presumably trying to rebut Adam Smith:

    "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the
    baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their
    own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to
    their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but
    of their advantages. [etc]" [Book I, Chapter 2 of WEALTH OF

    This from a civil servant, who collected a significant proportion
    of his income through coercion. [-kr]

    Robert Woodward asks:

    Wasn't this a position that he was appointed to AFTER the
    publication of WEALTH OF NATIONS? (BTW, if I follow your
    definition correctly, all civil servants collect most of their
    income from coercion because the vast majority of government income
    is from taxes.) [-rw]

    Kevin responds:

    If I was unclear, I apologize. By "This from..." I was referring
    to the remark by Keynes that the Leepers used at the end of MT VOID

    I would hesitate to call an 18th century Don at a Scottish
    University a "civil servant." Who owned, operated and funded those
    at that time? The Crown? The Kirk? The Edinburgh town council?
    Was it what we would now call a QUANGO?

    In the 1700s, the students paid their lecturers directly, acc to:

    <https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/02/college-cost- 18th-century-scotland/459387/>



    TOPIC: This Week's Reading (book and film comments by Evelyn
    C. Leeper)

    KWAIDAN (1964) may have been inspired by DEAD OF NIGHT. FLESH AND
    FANTASY predates DEAD OF NIGHT, and there were a couple of horror
    anthology films a year or so before KWAIDAN, but DEAD OF NIGHT is
    considered the real inspiration for the horror anthology sub-genre.
    However, KWAIDAN made some major changes. Unlike the other horror
    anthology films, both before and after, there was no framing story.
    In a sense, this parallels when movies decided they could have
    non-diegetic music; it was a decision that the audience was
    intelligent enough to cope with four totally separate stories. (I
    am reminded of the first time the child of a friend read a short
    story collection. After the second story, he wonders how the
    author would connect it to the first, and the third confused him
    even more. But he was only about eight years old.)

    It is worth remembering that KWAIDAN is from 1964, well after many
    major Japanese films. It may be just me, but I keep feeling I am
    watching a film from the early 1950s, perhaps because of the heavy
    use of soundstages rather than shooting external scenes outdoors.

    All four episodes of KWAIDAN have fabulous art/set design, which I
    will comment on in the individual stories.

    "Black Hair" has very little diegetic sound; it is almost entirely
    voice-over, music, and sound effects. There is well-crafted use of
    lighting in the skies--sunrise, etc. At the end color of the robe
    and hair fluctuates, but this just reflects the subjectivity of the
    scene. The arrow-shooting contest sequence was shot outdoors in a
    realistic style, but all the other scenes were obviously shot on a
    soundstage. The one negative is that the ending is predictable.

    "The Woman of the Snow" was shot entirely on a soundstage. There
    is a shot of a sky full of eyes that may have been inspired by the
    1945 Alfred Hitchcock film SPELLBOUND. The red flag at the river
    in an otherwise monochromatic scene is like the red coat in
    SCHINDLER'S LIST. There is interesting between color (e.g., the
    old man's face) and monochrome (e.g. the young man's face). In
    general, the director and cinematographer keep monochrome for
    flashback, and then switch to color for the present, but with no
    cut, just a filter change.

    "Hoichi the Earless" starts with the Battle of Don-no-ura between
    the Genji and the Heike. (ObSF: Somtow Sucharitkul has written an
    opera about this battle, under the pen name S. P. Somtow.) There
    are some outdoor shots of the sea, but even the sea battle was shot
    on a soundstage with a tank and a painted background. The relative
    calmness of the water, as compared to the real sea, is one of many
    giveaways. (One is reminded of the scene at the end of THE TRUMAN
    SHOW.) This seems to reflect an attitude that is common in
    Japanese kaiju films, which is that the audience is expected to
    have a willing suspension of disbelief at the obvious model work
    (trucks, buildings, etc.) rather than complain about how
    unrealistic tit is. In some sense, it is the attitude that a movie
    can be considered the same way one considers a stage play or puppet
    theater. One doesn't complain that the backdrop of a stage set
    looks painted or that the puppets don't look like real human beings.

    This episode goes between realistic scenes of the monastery (even
    if they are obviously on a sound stage), and surreal scenes of
    Hoichi's nightly destination. For example, there may be a driving
    rain in the "real" world, but when other monks get to the
    destination, the rain suddenly stops, and all the water on the
    ground disappears. There is also a clever scene where the flames
    from two monks' lanterns escape and fly around on their own.

    As the final story, "In a Cup of Tea" is sort of like a "palate
    cleanser" dessert after a heavy meal. It is a fairly simple story,
    about a man who sees someone "trapped" in a cup of tea. The vision
    keeps recurring, and eventually the person "escapes" and attacks
    him. At the end, a friend and a servant wonder where he is--and
    then the servant sees him in a bucket of water.

    Needless to say, highly recomended.

    Released theatrically in the US 11/22/1965.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:

    Two of the four stories in KWAIDAN are from KWAIDAN: STORIES AND
    STUDIES OF STRANGE THINGS by Lafcadio Hearn (Dover, ISBN
    0-486-21901-1): "The Woman of the Snow" ("Yukionna"), and "Hoichi
    the Earless" ("Miminashi Hoichi no Hanashi"). In a Cup of Tea"
    (Chawan no Naka") is from Hearn's KOTTO; BEING JAPANESE CURIOS,
    WITH SUNRY COBWEBS. "The Black Hair" ("The Reconciliation") is
    from SHADOWINGS. All are Hearn's re-tellings of classical Japanese
    folk tales. [-ecl]


    Mark Leeper

    The only way to keep your health is to eat what you
    don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what
    you'd rather not.
    --Mark Twain

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