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Author of the Novel Supports the Movie,
This review is from: Indecent Proposal [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
People keep asking if I'm okay with Paramount's rendering of my novel "Indecent Proposal" (ComteQ Publishing, Paperback). After all, a number of changes took place from my page to Hollywood's screen -- and, it is customary for the novelist to be fashionably upset at Hollywood. But I'm happy with the result.
Liberties were taken. This is true. But the main elements of my novel were kept intact -- temptation, sin, regret, redemption, forgiveness. In other words, Hollywood skimmed the surface, but with glamour.
After all, the billionaire (in the novel) is an Arab sultan, and the couple he tempts and traps, well, the guy is Jewish and his wife is high-class Gentile, somewhat like Grace Kelly. You'd expect Omar Sharif for starters, not Robert Redford.
In her review of the MOVIE for The New York Times, Janet Maslin paid tribute to the theme of the book and the movie as being "powerfully seductive." I'm okay with this and I'm okay with the Times' Sunday review of the BOOK (originally published in 1989), which, in part, runs as follows:
Of a "Jewish writer and gambler, who makes a bargain with the Devil (a handsome oil-rich billionaire.) The struggle between these two embraces a number of primal issues, the sanctity of marriage versus the love of money, the Jew versus significant non-Jews such as shiksas and sheiks, skill versus luck, materialism versus spirituality, Israel versus the Arab countries, the past versus the future, and the religious world versus the secular one."
Times' BOOK revieweer Barbara Raskin goes on to say, "In precise, almost clinical language, Mr. Engelhard tracks the changes Joshua [Kane] and Joan go through after receiving their ungodly offer. Suspicion, jealousy, anger, second guessing, pain and fear begin to torment them as they struggle with his and hers temptations -- It's her body and his soul on the line."
I believe that the movie captures all that, though yes, for the conflicts in politics and culture and for the depths of emotions there is always and still the book. That does not change. A novelist's task is to find the human heart. Hollywood is about box office.
Surely I would have cast it differently and surely I would have been happier if Hollywood had stuck to my novel as is. But Hollywood is seldom completely true to the novel ("Gone With The Wind" a notable exception) and I understand why. One art form is about pictures, the other is about words.
Beethoven would not dare tell Picasso how to paint his Third Symphony. Each artist, in his own medium, must be allowed to find his own vision. This is obvious but it must be said, a movie is a movie and a book is a book and both have their challenges and their merits.
Yes, when I dealt with these "primal issues" I was surprised that the title roles would be taken by Redford, Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson. If I had qualms, these were dispelled at the grand opening when it struck me that all this stardom and a $40 to $50 million budget all happened from words I wrote on the kitchen table.
(I have this notion that we all face temptations every day, some big, some small. This one, on love and money, is big.)
I am always ready for people to knock the movie. People do this for a reason, which I will explain at a later time, perhaps in a blog. I have a theory about this. I was lucky with the reviews of the book. The Times' wrote: "Is this book fun to read? You betcha." The same goes for the movie, now especially in this Blu-Ray format.
Thank you for listening -- Jack Engelhard, the authorIndecent Proposal