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Opening Arguments

Love the books, hate the movies

There's a new edition of Robert Heinlin's "The Puppet Masters" out (via Instapundit), and I may have to pick it up. This isn't the 1951 version of only 60,000 words. It's the 1990 version in which Heinlein was able to return the 36,000 words cut by the original publisher. I haven't read the book since high school (and that was the short version) when I went into my first Heinlein phase, so the only thing I've experienced lately is the awful movie version starting Donald Sutherland. The pace is excrutiating, the acting pedestrian, and the script manages to miss all of the book's thematic undercurrents. The book was very much of its Cold War era, but Heinlein's genius was that he was able to make it about the horrors of all totalitarian threats.

Why are movies made from Heinlein works so bad? "Starship Troopers" (or "The Bug War Move," as some of us like to call it) was pretty close to execrable, with its loving attention to the details of splatting giant insects and its complete mischaracterization of the book's political subversiveness. Heinlein's complex musings on what might constitute the best government in an ideal society were reduced to a cartoonish sendup of militaristic fascism. (I must confess, though, that I'm strangely attracted to the movie -- I guess it would be a guilty pleasure if I felt guilt about such things.)

One exception is 1950's "Destination Moon." It's been outdated by actual events, but it was striking in its attempt to accurately portray space travel as it was actually seen by the scientific community of the time.

Posted in: All about me, Books, Film


Bob G.
Wed, 08/11/2010 - 1:49pm

Didn't klnow that about the Heinlein book...will defintiely have to check into this.

And I personally preferred the Invasion of the Body Snatchers with Kevin McCarthy a LOT more than the Sutherland bore-fest.
(usually Sutherland does decent work, too)
Starship Troopers seemed to glance OVER the whole socio-political aspects in lieu of bugs...darn shame.
it HAD a lot more potential.