03 August 2009

Lord Jim: Conrad's Book and Brooks' film

Jim (Peter O'Toole): I've been a so-called coward and a so-called hero and there's not the thickness of a sheet of paper between them. Maybe cowards and heroes are just ordinary men who, for a split second, do something out of the ordinary. That's all.
Though truly divergent works of art, with more than a few threads of a central theme, Joseph Conrad's novel Lord Jim (1899-1900) and Richard Brooks' 1965 film of the same name are both adventures worth taking. Each work stands on it own merits.

I read the book first and highly recommend starting with it. Then the film may serve as, not an equal, but a fine supplementary work of art. Supplementary in the most important sense in that it is an action adventure film with its serious themes stripped down, but still looming. While Conrad's novel is a meticulous examination an array of the elements of the human character and and "simple twists of fate." While the novel brings the characters into sharp focus, the film's cast truly bring the characters to life.

So take a South Seas adventure from the 19th century and learn a little about what heroes and courage are really all about.

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