Average User Score: 8.3Nov 6, 2012Ever since the first time I saw the trailer for this film, I've been intrigued as to how such an intertwisting of differing tales couldEver since the first time I saw the trailer for this film, I've been intrigued as to how such an intertwisting of differing tales could possibly be portrayed coherently and, more importantly, meaningfully on-screen (or in any medium, frankly). Intent on finding out, I decided to read the book before the movie was released. I was much exhilarated by the boldness of the book, and only slightly disappointed by the weakness of some of the stories portrayed there. I say this not because the movie reflects such weaknesses, but because it takes the weaknesses and turns them into wild, weeping, glowing success. While the book follows each tale in a tiered, orderly fashion - alphabetically in chronological order: ABCDEFEDCBA respectively (A being the 1830s, F being some unknown date in the deep future) - the movie twists and contorts the entire story by switching almost randomly between each tale in a meaningful and telling way. Where in the book, a story may end on a somber and somewhat uneventful note, the movie wraps that ending amongst other happenings from the other stories to provide context the book fails to adequately capture or express. Albeit, this is mostly done by much-abbreviating each story and condensing general plot structures to super-saturated levels compared to the book's meanderings. Nevertheless, the movie does not fail to capture the essence of each.
What struck me the hardest, however, was not the way each story was interwoven in the film, but how the film actually manages to improve many of the stories by condensing them. The characters the book familiarizes the reader with are suddenly granted the respect they deserve in their much-heightened Hollywood movie aspects, and I respect the filmmakers for giving them the chance to shine.
The obvious downside to all of this is that reading the novel is an absolutely necessary prerequisite for watching the film. Otherwise, the pure joy you find in each story made new, each character given a better chance to fulfill their role, and the meaning behind the story-weaving device all become an incomprehensible muddle of six slightly disappointing tales told in a new but annoying fashion. Nevertheless, despite this downside, I cannot help but give this movie high marks; they took the material, absorbed it thoroughly, and from it built a glorious masterpiece. If only the book could be sold as appendices to the film's great triumph.… Expand