[Milton-L] PL, the Movie [was: Re: Milton-L Digest...]

Alia-Anor Akaeze akaeze at gmail.com
Sun Mar 4 15:18:43 EST 2007

Having been involved in the film industry once upon a time, I can say with
some authority that I'm sure he/they have NOT read PL; and if he/they have,
it was a cursory reading at best. It's also quite clear that their "reading"
of PL is not so much wrong as it is grossly simplistic and
superficial--which is the way Hollywood does things afterall. If I had read
PL in high school, I may have come away from the experience with the same
sort of superficial understanding of what Milton was trying to accomplish.

I echo Carrol Cox--movies are supposed to be movies. Very little of what the
studios attempt is based on material written specifically for the screen.
Most good movies are extremely selective about what they appropriate from
their literary "inspirations," and this is as it should be. Just as
academics focus on different aspects of PL scholarship (the queer vs. the
Christian vs. the Feminist, etc.), so filmmakers--who have financial and
other practical limitations to any project--will concentrate on that aspect
of any material that has the greatest hold on their personal interest. Then
there is the difference in art form to consider. Movies are about images
primarily and they can only take you so far; "show me, don't tell me." Plays
are all about great dialog, the nuances of image being lost if you happen to
be seated in the nosebleed section or extreme stage left/right. Literature,
however, is about the very personal *interior* experience/interpretation of
the individual reader. Both movies and plays with literary origins filter
our glimpses into someone else's experience/interpretation of a story. There
is no such barrier between the reader and the read.

So I have no problem with a cinematic treatment of PL. I see the poem and
the movie as completely different animals. I welcome the opportunity to see
how someone else experiences what I believe to be the most influential work
of literature in the world (don't hate me Bible-lovers!). I don't have to
like the interpretation or even agree with it. In fact, I'll probably enjoy
it even if it's appallingly bad just because I'll be able to walk away from
it and say with some superiority, "well, I wouldn't have done it that way."

BTW: None of the people mentioned in the NYT article who are attached to
"PL: The Movie" are particularly cutting-edge, innovative, inspired
filmmakers. I suspect the movie will be a hoot, sell much popcorn, and win
many Razzies!

anor akaeze
(sorry, no academic credentials to speak of....)


On 3/4/07, Mike T. Streeter <streetm at stthom.edu> wrote:
> "'It's a 400-some-odd-page poem written in Old English,' [the producer]
> said, laughing."
> But it's not even written in Old English!  Nor do we usually measure the
> length of poems by their variable page count.  I wonder if he's even read
> the poem!
> I'll be sticking to my Paradise Lost BBC recordings, thank you.
> Mike Streeter
> streetm at stthom.edu
> **
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