The Third Man (late response)–Meghan

Well, this is really late but I am going to post it anyway. I wrote my response in my head after class last week and I think I convinced myself that I had already posted a response (oops!). Anyway, I thought our discussion at the end of class last Thursday (when we were talking about whether or not we liked the film or the book better) was really interesting. If I remember correctly, it was about a 50/50 split between who liked the film better and who liked the book better (give or take a few votes). I would like to defend my reasoning for liking the book better (not because I thought I was under attack, but simply because I think it is interesting that the film came first and I was still a fan of the book).

Initially, for some reason, I was under the impression that the book came before the film. I think this happened because I read the prologue a week or two before I read the actual book and I completely forgot that the prologue says the film came first and was the “completed” version. Perhaps, this influenced my opinion on liking the book better than the movie–but let’s ignore that because I have some specific reasons I liked the book better. In general, I am not a big movie-watcher and prefer reading or watching short TV show episodes (this, of course, could also influence why I liked the book better).

Anyway, the main reason I liked the book better is because of the insight that we get into the character Martins. Though the film had many interesting depictions of what was going on with Martins, I really enjoyed the kind of “split personality” that was present in the book. Martins had a few different personas that he put on in the book and I thought it was hilarious that he pretended to be Mr. Dexter so he could have a place to stay for free. I felt a lot more in-sync with with Martins character and I liked that we could see what he was thinking throughout the novel.

Also, I thought Calloway was an effective narrator for the story. His narration gave the novel more of a “detective story” feel, and I thought that was kind of fun. I think having the film narrated by Calloway would have been an interesting touch, but then that would have made him a more central figure in the film than he was.

I also thought the relationship (or lack thereof) between Martins and Anna was a lot more problematic in the book. This is something that Eric discusses in his blog post Rollo’s Problematic Relationship, so I will not spend too much time here. Martins continues to make crazy rationalizations in the book on why he and Anna should be together. He does not accept her rejection and cannot come to terms with the fact she does not want to be with him. I don’t think this was as obvious in the film–and maybe it wasn’t supposed to be since the film came first.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I appreciate both the film and book as separate entities, but it is difficult for me to see them as the same story. I guess this makes sense because, ultimately, they really are different stories. I think the novel is more humorous and provides an interesting perspective of the characters. I think the film is certainly artistic and demonstrates a lot of motion and emotion that is not necessarily seen in the novel (specifically with the prater wheel scene). After reading the book, seeing the film, and discussing both in class, I am still a bigger fan of the book. As I said, I appreciate the artistic elements of the film, but I like being able to interpret the characters and visualize them in my head rather than watch them be created in front of me. Maybe this is weird.