Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Day of the Triffids

What can I say about the BBC's adaptation of The Day of the Triffids? Eddie Izzard was good in a silly role. Apart from that I can't think of many positives. It had clearly had a fair amount of money thrown at it. It certainly didn't fail through lack of effort or seriousness.

Maybe the fault lies with the book. Don't get me wrong, John Wyndham was one of my favourite writers when I was in my teens and The Day of the Triffids is a good book. But maybe it shows that whilst some things work perfectly well on the page, they don't when realised as moving images.

When I say that it's the fault of the book, I don't mean 'fault' at all. What I mean is that maybe the notion of filming The Day of the Triffids is doomed from the start. It seems a cinematic concept, but it is essentially flawed. Creeping carnivorous plants are a creepy concept in a book, but just plain silly on screen. Dressing the film up like 28 Days Later ( film that based its opening on The Day of the Triffids) did not make any difference. This was a zombie movie without zombies.

Does that mean that the book is flawed? No, I don't think it does. John Wyndham was not writing a screenplay, he was writing a novel. It should not have to work in any other format. What it shows is that the way we imagine when reading is different from the way things are shown in cinema and television (and so it should be). Film is limiting and pedantic. It has to show and depict in a way our imaginations do not (unless they choose to).

Literature is - I think - more tuned in to that way of thinking. It is a direct link from the imagination of the writer to the imagination of the reader.

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