Tuesday, March 8, 2011

On love stories and horror stories

About 2 years ago when I picked up a translated copy of Let the Right One In I knew it was going to be just one of those books...I was shopping at one of the big bookstores (I know, traitor) and the salesman asked what I was looking for, I said, "Something really different, and really scary."

His reply was so funny, "How do you feel about the Twilight books?" I thought for a second we must have misunderstood each other. Twilight is not really original in many senses and it certainly isn't terrifying (except when you think how many tween age girls are learning about love and relationships based on Edward and Bella -YIKES, but lets steer away from that can of worms....) plus I thought to myself, you're a little late to be offering me something that was a "craze-read" about two years ago. I said, "Not really what I am interested in," and prepared to continue searching by myself.

He stopped me and said, "Perfect!" Intrigued like never before, I would have suddenly followed this odd fellow to the end of the world. He handed me a translated copy of Let the Right One In and said, "It's Twilight for adults." Hmmmmmmmm

It took me a while to get into, and nearly 5 months to finish all the way. The translations weren't always on point as you can tell with miss matched grammar in a lot of modern translated books - slang and newer attitudes reflected by colorful language don't always lend themselves to being reverberated especially when you are dealing with things like pedophilia,bullying, murder, etc. etc. etc.

Anyway, once I was done I was convinced that this had to fall into the Gothic Horror category (not that I needed another reason to love it) but also, a breath taking love story. Immediately I searched it out on Netflix and discovered that I would be watching it with subtitles if I wanted to see it at all. So I added it to my list and decided I should do a little research on the screen play. Since I speak no Swedish I wanted to be able to follow the movie as much as possible without staring at the bottom of the screen and since there are always discrepancies between film adaptations and their novels - I wanted to be ready for any surprises that might confuse me.

Fortunately for many movie goers, a lot of the complicated issues from the novel are avoided; unfortunately the movie goer misses out on some important things:
1. The old man taking care of Eli (the vampire) dies after leaping to his death from a hospital window in the movie (He is played by a stellar Richard Jenkins in the new film) - what you need to know if you see this, is that in the book, he is so in love with Eli he comes back to live as a vampire and only seeks to find Eli, to make her love him - as it is painfully obvious in the movie - he loves her so much.

2. In the novel it is discovered that Eli was once a boy and had been castrated when he was turned into a vampire (hundreds of years ago). In the movie, there is no mistaking that Eli is a girl and the issue is never raised, probably to help further the love story between her and Oskar (the little boy next door who falls hopelessly in love with her).

3. The other big difference that I felt was left out and really shouldn't have been was Oskar's resistance to the bullies at school. The bullies who were truly terrifying, disturbed children pushed Oskar to fight back in the book. Not successfully but, none the less. In the movie, he resisted fighting back until Eli was present and she did all the "fighting" in the end. For some reason, this really stuck out to me. I don't understand why Oskar was made to look so weak.

Anyway, why am I bringing this all up now over a year later? Because I finally saw the remake of the movie. It was out in October 2010: Let Me In.

It unfortunately had to leave even more out than the original because of our cultural differences in the US I am sure. But I loved it. It stayed as true to the book as possible (don't worry all the bothersome story lines we cut out of this version too) and if you have never seen a movie starring Chloe Grace Moretz then I beg you to please please please make this your first. And the boy who played Oskar *excuse me* OWEN - sounded a lot like the little boy in The Road. He was extremely impressive! Also, it brought in an American element that didn't exist in the book or the original movie (if it did, it fell on deaf ears...) and that was the paranoia of the Cold War. Even though it wasn't directly addressed, they tell you that the year is specifically 1983 and the glances and spying type of voyeurism between neighbors is all too reminiscent of what we learned in high school history about the US's fear of potential Soviet bombings. Funny that a "witch hunt" for American traitors is taking place on top of a vampire "witch hunt."

Don't jump when you see these pictures....
This is Chloe Grace Moretz as Abby (Eli)- fierce!

This is the original Swedish Eli - not too scary right?

In case I may have scared you off, I want to remind you that at the bottom of it all, this is a love story. And if you are not one for horror movies - the picture above is about the scariest that movie ever gets and it only happens a couple times for a couple moments each. Some of the scarier things are actually moments between humans (ie - Oskar and the bullies). But they are totally worth the torture when you come to the end. Whoever told you Edward and Bella were anything like Romeo and Juliet obviously never heard of Eli and Oskar...

And since I am making recommendations, may I recommend that if you like weddings, or love, or fairy tales at all -- stay away from The Romantics. It will ruin everything for you. I haven't yet had a chance to watch the film which has a huge name filled cast, but if it is anything like the book, chances are I won't believe in true love at all by the end of the week. Talk about a scary book.... ;)

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