Sometimes A Great Notion [Blu-ray]
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...then I saw the film.
Again, in fairness; I had doubts that ANY film under 2 hours would begin to do justice to the novel. I was right. I had suspicions that perhaps Paul Newman and Henry Fonda weren't quite, well, BIG AND TOUGH ENOUGH to do due justice to the Henry and Hank Stamper father/son team. I was almost right -- physically, they weren't the looming figures that roared across Kesey's pages. But Newman and Fonda ain't bad either, not by a long shot. Their abilities almost obscure the fact that they don't fully seem like lifelong lumberjacks from the wild coast of Oregon in the middle 20th century. They seem like superb Hollywood actors who are acting like lumberjacks. But that's OK, too. Fonda and Newman break even in my book, in terms of how they portray the fictional characters. I can't fault actors for scenes that aren't there, and my biggest problem with the film was a lack of depth -- the novel has several parallel, ongoing story lines that all weave together with magic and drama. By nature, cinema is a more linear story-telling device in that regard. Kesey's magnificent command of language, and voice, and perspective, and verb tenses helps to define this sprawling masterpiece -- that's a tough sell on the big (or little) screen.
I wish the cutting room had eaten a little less footage. The romance between Lee and Viv is, essentially, missing in action.Read more ›
Kesey's superb epic novel with its shifting points of view and verb tense is far too complex a work to adapt directly to the camera's limited third person POV. Kesey's rich and dense narrative prose, while exceptionaly cinematic in its description and action ironically proves unfilmable.
That said, Paul Newman and his production team created a most admirable and solid, if very truncated adaptation of Kesey's excellent novel. It is near impossible to fit the novel's rumbling narrative into a mere hour and a half.
Unlike the more famous film version of Cuckoo's Nest, Kesey admires this filming of his work. It is important viewing on that note alone.
Sadly missing is the critical sub-plot involving a love triangle between Lee and Vivian. As a result, a great deal of Lee's motivation and narrative tension is lost. According to Kesey, the triangle was filmed but lopped off to save running time. Maybe it will come back in the DVD version.
The dialouge, while rather shallow and weak in spurts (much of Kesey's rich vernacular is lost- save for the brilliant aphorisistic interjection "Boy, Howdy!"), is effectively and evocatively brought to life by a wonderful ensemble cast featuring some of America's finest. Who better than Henry Fonda to play Newman's father. Richard Jaekel richely earns his Oscar nomination as the dim-witted but enthusiastic born again lumberjack JoBen. The famous drowning scene is heartbreakingly tragic and darkly comic and this owes directly to both the expert acting of Newman and Jaekel and Newman's own expert direction.
Newman spent a great deal of time in my native Oregon researching the part.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
We live in the area where this movie was filmed and met the actors when they were here it has been fun to watch it and look at the local area as it was then.Published 6 days ago by Mary Ellen West
Excellent but little-remembered 1971 film version of author Ken Kesey's magnum opus novel about the stubborn, individualistic, and strike-breaking Stamper logging family in the... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Robert A. Cook, Jr.
Of course, this isn't as good as the book (by Ken Kesey, of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest fame), which I've always thought was a legitimate contender for The Great American... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Chad C. Beck
This movie is a waste of great talent because it had a "play" feel to it rather than a "movie" feel to it with terrible music and horrible production. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer