03 January 2012

Complementary Presentations of "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 (written 1899-1900) and Richard Brooks' 1965 film of the same name are both adventures worth taking. Each work stands on it own merits, Conrad's accomplishment standing as one of the great books in modern English.

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 of the diverse elements of the human character and and "simple twists of fate", the novel brings the characters into sharp focus. The film's outstanding cast truly bring the characters to life.

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


whiteray said...

I gave my dad a copy of the book for his birthday when I was about 12. Don't know if he ever read it. I've never done so, but given your recommendation, I should. Thanks.

Paco Malo said...

Thanks for the anecdote, whiteray.

Given that history, I'd start with the movie and the book ready. Then see where your "simple twist of fate" takes you.

In either medium, it's quite a ride!