I know, I know – I’ve mixed movie/book genre (a cardinal sin to some movie buffs) but I’m not sorry because these are two of my all-time favorite movies/books, and since I’m writing this post I can mix whatever I want. This is my world of comparing & contrasting, with my rules.
I’ve been given a great deal, and I’ve wanted a lot. And I’ve ended up not really having anything and not really knowing what I want. –Smilla, from Smilla’s Sense of Snow
I am re-reading one of my most favorite books: Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg. I actually watched the movie before I read the book, sort of back-assed approach but the first introduction that I ever had with Høeg was through the movie – and oddly enough the movie is the book is the movie. The screenwriter (Ann Biderman, great job!) rewrote the book visually, just about every word and scene is translated onto film. I didn’t see the movie Smilla’s Sense of Snow in a theater, I think that I watched it on HBO or Cinemax years ago and I’ve seen it 4, now 5 times since I purchased the DVD.
The movie grabbed me from the start and like one of the main, but invisible, characters, it grew under my skin. I used to search TV-Guide for the movie, I don’t know why it never occurred to me to purchase the film until several weeks ago in Borders when it demanded I search for while in their video department – Borders’ promise to deliver what you want when it’s not in the physical store without shipping costs worked perfectly for me. I expected the video to be out of print (and that the book would be, too) and that I’d have to live with the longing to see it again unresolved. When I searched for the book I found 2 paperback copies and nothing else by the author – I do own a hardcover of The Quiet Girl, and I am planning on hunting down Borderliners soon.
Peter Høeg (who has been called the modern-day Melville, a comparison I totally agree with, ice & snow haunts one author while the can’t get enough of whales) is the perfect writer for visual readers, his descriptions don’t weigh one down with too much information but just enough of the right kind, and he isn’t afraid of using labels and brands which are precise, taking up less space on the page, getting to the point quickly. If the reader is unsure of a brand then they can Goggle the item. I especially liked the maps to orient myself with having never visited Greenland nor Copenhagen, at least in physical form. Smilla is much shorter and the mechanic (is he called a mechanic in the movie?) much wider in the book, the movie changes very few things, company names and meetings, and the ending is more neatly packaged for American audiences – but I don’t care because what brought me to the movie was Julia Ormond (and on a secondary level, Gabriel Byrne). Ormond’s acting always mesmerized me, I am one of her dependable viewers (I was happy that she accepted her role in Temple Grandin, and was rewarded for her believable character study).
Now to explain my movie/book title reference: I have never seen a more perfect character match than Smilla and Deckard, only she can rise up to his equal, in personality, thought process, unattachments and attachments, purpose/drive, and willingness to die for their passion. Smilla is yin to Deckard’s yang. They are both tired of the human race. People, with all their worse features, get in their way, whether they are racially intolerant Danes or futuristic cops/replicants. They use their wits not bullets to out-smart their foes. They make alliances reluctantly and are crafty collecting lifesaving information. Smilla, as a female protagonist, rocks and can deliver a genital pressure pinch that would bring anyone to their knees!