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I went to see the film adaptation of The Host, by Stephanie Meyer, at the weekend.

All in all, it was a remarkably accurate adaptation, considering what the film industry normally do to books.  I did spot a few places where the action was subtly different to the way it was described in the book, but the main plot items were all there, and all in the right order.  There were no characters missing, or extra characters, as sometimes happens.

For those who don’t know, the Earth has been invaded by body-snatching alien “Souls”, who have turned it into a paradise with no war, hunger, disease, or rude people.  The down side, of course, is that you lose control of your body, causing most people to just give up and fade away.  Melanie, one of a small group of human survivors, is captured and infested, but she resists, causing her alien companion no end of problems.  And, incidentally, being involved in a complex love-polygon in which the Soul and the Host are in love with different people.

It must be tricky to make a film adaptation of something where a large portion of the action occurs inside someone’s head, but they did very well.  The person in control of Melanie’s body always speaks out loud, with the passenger doing voice over, so you can tell who is speaking.  Their arguments are some of the best things about the film.

The characterisation worked well in both book and film, although in the film the relationship between some of the humans was not as clear as it could have been, and you don’t get to know some of the supporting characters as well.  There’s only so much you can do within a sensible film time-limit, I suppose.

I enjoyed the book more than the film; whether this is because of how the action translated to the screen or because I already knew what was going to happen when I watched the film I don’t know.  However, while I would happily read the book again (in a few years time), I’m not sure that I would bother watching the film again.

 
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I was thinking about character quirks – the things that make a character unique and interesting.  It occurred to me that there are some pretty obvious examples of those quirks being central to the story line, and also linked to brain damage.

50 First Dates

The main character in this film is a young woman who has been in an accident.  She now has anterograde amnesia, which means that she can’t form new memories.  Every night she goes to sleep and wakes up the next morning thinking it’s the morning of her accident.  It’s a romantic comedy, so as you can imagine the male lead goes to some interesting lengths in order to win her heart!

Memento

This one is anterograde amnesia again.  This time, the amnesia affects not just the story but the presentation of it, with some of the scenes not occurring in chronological order.  My personal favourite is the scene that starts with a chase through a car park.  The voice-over (from the main character) goes something like this:

“I’m running.  Why am I running?  Am I chasing that guy?”

The other man shoots at him.

“No, he’s chasing me!”

Regarding Henry

I haven’t seen this one, but the plot summaries on the interwebs look interesting.  Harrison Ford is a mean, unethical lawyer, who gets shot in the head during a robbery.  He gets retrograde amnesia, meaning he can’t remember anything that happened in his life until that point.

He has to get to know his family all over again, and realises he doesn’t like the person he used to be.  It’s a film about second chances.

Prosopagnosia

Sufferers of prosopagnosia can’t recognise people from their faces, but usually have no problem with other items.  A person suffering from this problem would not be able to tell the difference between their own children, for example, or between their best friend and a spy from a foreign nation.

The film is about a man who witnesses a murder, but can’t identify the murderer because he suffers from the condition.  To make matters worse, he is the key suspect in the murder!

Again, I’ve not seen it, but I wanted to include a film that wasn’t about memory loss, since that seems to be the main way brain damage enters into films.

Thoughts

Most films that involve brain damage seem to focus on memory loss of one kind or another.  Other types of brain damage seem to result in obscure films which I haven’t heard of… although that’s not really saying much, since I’m more of a book person.

What films can you think of to either bolster or destroy my theory?  Are there other types of brain damage which would make a good plot?

There’s a film, called The Singularity is Near, which is the subject of this article at the New Scientist.  The film itself has to be paid for, but here’s a trailer:

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Frankly, the description given in the NS article gives you a better idea what it’s about.  You should go read that if you’re confused.  It also points out a few holes in the film.  But anyway, I had a point.  I can’t remember what it was…

Ah, yes.  The last line in the trailer is this:

People think that because its been in a movie it can’t happen.

How true do you think that is?  There are certainly plenty of counter-examples.  Moon landings, underwater cameras, jet packs, even adamantium is getting closer to actually existing.

On the other hand, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen the White House blown up, and I’m pretty certain that the Secret Service are quite good at preventing that in real life, so I can see why people would stop believing in films.

Opinions please!

When you’re watching a film, does your heart race?  Do you sweat with fear or excitement?

Would you like the ending of the film to change depending on how you react to it?

New technology is making it possible.  You wear a sensor on your wrist, connected via bluetooth to your smart phone running an app.  As you watch a film, it records your reactions.  Later you can see how you compare to other people watching the film, and see which parts made you react most.

The researchers are working on films with multiple endings and different musical scores, with the aim that what you see will be controlled by your reactions.

It might be interesting, but one of the things I like about films is discussing them with people afterwards.  How can you do that if you didn’t see the same as your friends?

The Author

Nicola Higgins is a 30-something martial artist who runs two Brownie packs and works full time. She somehow still finds time to write.

Her favourite genres are near-future and alternate world science fiction and fantasy.

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