In the list of unfilmable books I thought that Kurt Vonnegut's most famous novel would rank high on the list next to Naked Lunch, but George Roy Hill's adaptation of Slaughterhouse-Five diverges from the book just enough to make it a viable film and stays true enough to the novel that it still retains the plot and spirit of the original. The overall philosophy - that "life is just a collection of moments, and the trick is to remember the good and ignore the bad" - emerges both as a line of dialogue and a lesson demonstrated by the narrative structure of the film without seeming didactic. Michael Sacks's performance is exemplary, playing Billy with a naivete and innocence that is both charming and endearing. Sacks captures the origin of Billy's milquetoast nature as it emerges from a wisdom borne of timelessness.
One of my friends argued that Slaughterhouse-Five is a patriarchal, misogynist book, and I disagreed because the female characters have an inner life that Vonnegut doesn't downplay. Unfortunately the film didn't keep this aspect of Vonnegut's narration, and Valencia and Montana emerge respectively as a crazy, superficial nut-job and an over-willing sexual partner.
Overall, Hill's film is a fine testament to one of the great American novels.
"Billy Pilgrim lives- from time to time."
I believe Slaughterhouse- Five to be a pretty good adaptation of Vonnegut's masterpiece novel. First off, Vonnegut himself said that this is a worthy adaptation and he should probably have the last word on that issue. The book is one of my personal favorites. So obviously the movie isn't going to be as good, but I didn't expect it to be. I hate when people criticize a movie for not being as good as the book. They can't include every little detail from the book, so obviously some areas are going to suffer slightly. This adaptation left out a lot of stuff, but that's normal. Only one exclusion made me slightly angry and that was Kilgore Trout; the science fiction novelist from the book. I think his inclusion would have helped a lot of people who hadn't read the book understand the story a little better.
With the comparisons to the book out of the way, I have to say I was fairly satisfied with this movie. Going in, I didn't really know how this movie was going to be. The novel had to be incredibly hard to adapt, but George Roy Hill and company do a fantastic job with Vonnegut's structure. It's incoherent, yet coherent, both at the same time. Michael Sacks is everything I pictured when I read the book. He does a fantastic job. The only part of the story that did leave me a little underwhelmed was Tralfamadore. But to be fair, I wouldn't know how to make it any better; I just such high hopes for those scenes going in.
It's obviously flawed, as every adaption is, but it's still a good film. If you're interested in the movie, I'd read the book also. You won't be sorry. The book is amazing and the film is a pretty solid companion piece to it.
It is a great story of non-mainstream sci-fi, like The Fountain. Or I should say non-popularized sci-fi. Even as it is purposely fragmented, you feel for the main character. And, although the ending is neat little bow on it all, the messages of fate and when people become one-dimensional rings true. It?s a good movie that you have to sit and pay attention to. Not just for sci-fi fans, but definitely for thinkers.
Apparently, Kurt Vonnegut really loved the film adaptation. I can see why. Even though he fought the movie during the production of it, he turned around once he saw the film. It's, for the most part, pretty faithful to the book. A lot of events are taken out or glossed over and theres a lot of amalgamized sequences just for time and pacing, but it's pretty faithful overall. That's great and all, but the visuals don't really match the descriptions. Vonnegut is an extremely adept writer and screams so much more with his words that really isn't picked up in this filmed. The clip-klop of Billy's broken boot never really gets at all translated in the film.
Also, the Tralfamadorians. Now, I know Vonnegut made them view the fourth dimension, but existing entirely in the fourth dimension seems like a cop-out. I acknowledge that we shouldn't have seen the Tralfamadorians because it would have been tacky, so I guess he's just stuck in a Catch-22! *giggle*
But this movie did present a lot of great moments. It's was great to see Miss Tessmacher as Dakota Wildhack. Even more so the fact that she was naked. Cross off that curiosity from my list. The main concern was the kid who played Billy. He wasn't incopetant by any means. But he was too normal of a person. Billy had something surreal going on with him. Where was the red beard and the almost unnatural confusion about reality? Billy, in this case, played a common man who simply dealed with the cards he was dealt rather than having a unique understanding of the universe due to him becoming unstuck in time.
Also, I feel like I have to bring up the firebombing of Dresden. After all, that's what this story is about. The movie really focuses on Billy's internment in Dresden more so than the book does. Billy keeps jumping to his entire lifetime in the book. Dresden really does take front and center of this storyline. But I do like that. It really does carry over Vonnegut's message, so whatever was avoided at least kept the theme of the movie.
I did like it. I just can't help but compare this one because the book is so good.