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I live on the ocean, write women's fiction, love to read so much that it's an addiction rather than a hobby (I read an average of a book a day). I live on the wet west coast so it's a good thing that I like to walk in the rain.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Remembrance Day - Friday five

I'm taking a page from my friend Ann Charles' blog about her favorite war films - I'm taking it a step further, though. I'm including books that weren't made into movies (okay, one book that wasn't made into a movie).

Probably my top pick is this terrific film with Jane Fonda, Bruce Dern and Jon Voight. The first time I saw it, it blew me away - it was frightening because, unlike many war films, it was a deeply personal story. It wasn't about battles or victories, it was about the complicating and challenging aftermath of war for three very different people. It's just the kind of story I like, a story about people, about characters, and not about a huge landscape of battle where I never really get to know anyone.
 So you won't be surprised if one of my other picks is For Whom the Bell Tolls - both the book and the movie starring two of my all-time favorite actors - Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman. Hemingway had spent some time reporting on the Spanish Civil War and this novel that he wrote about it is a classic.

The movie was as good as the book - one of the movies where scenes stick with you forever. Again, this story is personal - there are battles, but they don't involve tanks or aircraft carriers or regiments of soldiers. It involves a few people fighting a war that means everything to them. It's terrific.

Alistair MacLean's HMS Ulysses. This book was never made into a movie but from the first moment I read it, I felt like I was on that ship, I was completely and totally engrossed in this tiny part of the war. I was very young when I first read this book and I can still remember being scared to death of being on that small ship in the North Sea, the waves rolling over the ship, the fear and the cold and the pain each of those men felt. It's beautifully rendered, touching, frightening and cold. It's well worth reading - I've read it many times over the years.
Those of you who follow my blog, those of you who know me, know that the writer who is always on my top three list is Michael Ondaatje. This screen adaption, by Merchant and Ivory, of The English Patient is absolutely brilliant.

They managed to take a single strand of a very complicated and complex book and turn it into a movie that somehow captures the entire feel of the book and still be a story we all can follow.

The desert, Italy - stories from the past, stories from the present - they all work together and turn into a completely spellbinding movie.

This is the only classic war movie on my list - and I didn't know until today that it was written by a Frenchman (who also, amazing to me, wrote The Planet of the Apes). This movie, by David Lean, a great director of great epics, has it all. Music, scenery, hordes of great actors, a story that it's impossible not to get behind. And when the good guys win out? We cannot help but cheer.

The rest of the movies on my list don't have that classic ending, the endings aren't such obvious wins.

Maybe that's why I like them?


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