Bexley Community Book Club to Host Film Screening and Panel Discussion of Book by Jonathan Safran Foer
Best-selling author Jonathan Safran Foer is The Bexley Community Book Club’s 2012 Selected Author, and the group has planned a series of discussions and events exploring his work. On Wednesday, November 30 at 7 pm at the Drexel Theatre, there will be a screening of the film, “Everything is Illuminated,” with a panel discussion to follow. The film is adapted from Foer’s book of the same title. Artie Isaac, a Bexley resident, creativity coach and film critic, will be a panel member.
Books as Movies
I met with Isaac and asked him about the upcoming event. He responded with some interesting ideas about the relationship between books and film adaptations of those books, and about how readers might prepare for the screening and discussion.
When asked, “What kinds of books make good movies?” Isaac responded, “What makes a book a great book is not what makes a movie a great movie. Books are all words, which means everything – intention, emotion and inner conflict – is internal. It’s in the reader’s head. But in a movie, everything is external.”
Strong visual images in Everything Is Illuminated, such as the river and the bronze statue, are elements that could lend themselves well to film. Isaac said that while such striking images are memorable, there is a danger that too much focus on visual imagery can result in a film that is two-dimensional. “It’s the difference between watching an IMAX movie of the Grand Canyon and being there.”
Everything is Illuminated is a complex novel, with scenes that shift and move between different times and places. It can be easy to portray such shifts in a movie by using period clothing and other clues, Isaac said, but some complexities can prove to be too much to encompass in a movie. “If a movie is an adaptation of a book, then it’s really an excerpt of a book,” he explained. “Everybody who has read a book has scenes in their minds in a certain way. They have favorite scenes that may not make it into the movie.”
Isaac also pointed out the importance of pacing a movie correctly. “A book will always be at the right pace for every reader,” he explained, “but a movie might move too slowly or too quickly for the viewer, especially a movie adapted from a book like Everything Is Illuminated, or Mrs. Dalloway, where so much of what happens is internal. Pacing and casting are two essential elements to successfully adapting a book to the movie screen.”
Prepare for the Event
Elijah Wood plays Jonathan, the young American seeking answers from the past, and Eugene Hutz plays his Ukrainian tour guide, Alex. Isaac suggested that viewers prepare for the screening by planning to ask themselves how well the actors fit the characters, how effectively the movie’s pace works to keep viewers engaged in conflict that is largely internal, and how well the selected scenes represent the novel as a whole. Even viewers who have not read the entire novel can read the first few pages, Isaac said, and come to the screening prepared to compare the character of Alex in the book to Hutz’s portrayal of Alex in the movie.
More Events for Foer Fans
A CCAD Freshman Exhibit, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” An Interpretive Design, will be on display at Columbus College of Art & Design’s Acock Gallery from December 12, 2011 to February 10, 2012. The exhibit will present work interpreting Foer’s novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. The Bexley Book Club will host a discussion of the book at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus on Wednesday, February 15, at 7 pm., and Jonathan Safran Foer will speak at Bexley High School in the Schottenstein Theatre on April 18, 2012. For more information, visit the Bexley Community Book Club website.
At the Drexel, the “Everything is Illuminated” screening will be followed by a discussion with panelists Margaret Quamme, a frequent film and book reviewer for the Columbus Dispatch, and Artie Isaac, a creativity facilitator and instructor at OSU’s Fisher College and CCAD. PG-13. Tickets $7 adults, $6 students/seniors. Wednesday, November 30, 2011 at 7pm. The Drexel is located at 2254 East Main Street, Columbus, Ohio.
Photo of Artie Isaac by Chris Walker of Walker Photography.