I finished watching the 2004 ’Salem’s Lot TV mini-series last night. I watched it over two nights due to its almost three hour runtime and wanting to make sure that had some time on both nights to keep on going with The Shining.
Before I started this project, I was speaking about it to a friend who has read a lot of Stephen King and we got on to the point of the film and TV adaptations and he said he hoped I wouldn’t be wasting my time with some or most of them. Of course, I have pretty much ignored his advice.
I know some are better than others and some, as films in themselves, without the reference point of the novels or stories, are dire. I am prone to accommodating my obsessions, though, and can already see myself going against my better judgement and adding any adaptations to my LOVEFiLM online DVD rental list soon after closing the book.
One of the things that steered me towards not considering it to be a massive waste of my time to watch these adaptations is an interview I heard with Neil Gaiman. When asked why he subsequently wrote a novel of the TV series Neverwhere he said that he saw the book as a ‘movie without a budget’ (I’m a little reticent to put that in quotation marks as I can’t remember the exact wording and haven’t got the interview to hand). Anyway, this idea rings true with me. It’s part of why I love books and reading. Your enjoyment of a book is a subjective thing. Regardless of the quality of the writing, it’s the depth of your imagination that brings the words to life and injects vividity into the black and white of the type. And imagination isn’t bound to or restricted by how much you’ve got to spend on special effects and how advanced these technologies are. Stephen King’s a great writer, so he puts a great movie into your head. It’s a comparative interest, then, to see someone else’s imagining of the story, the characters and the action.
It’s interesting to see what they include and omit, what they alter or invent and to consider the reasons, obvious, less so or purely cynical, for doing so.
So, the ’Salem’s Lot as imagined by Mikael Salomon and Peter Filardi…
Of course, it was hampered by budget, strange performances from Donald Sutherland and Rutger Hauer and, of course, Rob Lowe was is it. And not forgetting, it’s always nice to see that my teen crush, Samantha Mathis, is still working. They also changed quite a bit of the book. But it wasn’t horrible. (By the way, I can't be bothered hyperlinking anymore. You know how Google, Wikipedia and IMDb work.)
My main enjoyment came from reliving my imagining of the book while seeing someone else’s. Having just read and enjoyed the book, it’s a shame that, due to my need to keep things going with this project, I have to put it down and pick up the next one. There isn’t a lot of time to dwell on it, consider it and let the whole thing sink in. With some of the books, The Shining in particular, I plan to reread at some point. It will be a long time in the future, but it’s on my ‘to do’. At least with Kubrick’s film and the mini-series whose script he oversaw, I can stay in the world of the book while I move on to Night Shift.
I seem to have forgotten to say that anyone who says that a film isn’t as good as the book on which it is based is a tool. It goes without saying. The two are incomparable.