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January 11, 2000 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2000-01-11

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, January 11, 2000

Hick's 'Cedars' a solid adaptation

By Joshua Pederson'
Daily Arts Writer
Wlien considering viewing a film
based upon a novel, especially if the
novel is of any secure literary merit,
one is generally wise to heed the age-
old adage, "Read the book first."
When any given creative team under-
take& the conversion of a 400-page
novel 10 a two-hour film, they are
obviously looking for a challenge.
Essettally, for every "Doctor
Zhivgp,;" there are at least 30 "Great
Expeiaions," adaptations that don't
measure un to

Snow Falling
on Cedars
At Showcase

111G~lbwu p t
the original.
The artistic
value of a classic
novel oftentimes
will not translate
easily to the
screen. And
even if the cine-
matic version
possesses any
sort of structural
integrity, often-
times its aims
fall far from
those of the

assiduous effort.
David Guterson probably aligns
himself more closely with the latter
group. Though he has published only
a few novels, he has proven himself a
talented craftsman and a deft social
critic. His novel, "Snow Falling on
Cedars," won the Penn-Faulkner
Award for literary excellence. This
particular book relies heavily on
Guterson's sweeping descriptive
imagery, weaving together plot
strands involving a complex murder
trial, a touching romance, and a peo-
ple's plight. The author's meticulous-
ly crafted story lends itself almost
exclusively to the pages of a book,
for it depends so completely on the
dynamic versatility of Guterson's
prose. Therefore, it would seem as if
any attempt at moving this particular
story to film might be headed for a
hopeful mediocrity at best.
But the film version of Guterson's
novel does justice to his literary
effort, accomplishing a number of
the author's aesthetic and practical
goals even with respect to the genre
shift. As the adaptation of a novel,
"Snow Falling on Cedars" is a
remarkable film.
In tackling a number of incredibly
difficult issues in close conjunction,
David Guterson utilizes an excep-
tionally complicated writing style.
This style features painstaking
descriptive detail and shifts of scene
and issue that are both lightning
quick and deceptively smooth.

In addition to its aesthetic success,
the film manages to deal delicately
with a very difficult social issue. It
takes place in San Pedro,
Washington, before, during and after
World War II. San Pedro is a coastal
village in the Pacific Northwest that
is home to both Japanese- and
European-Americans. The Japanese-
American population is ultimately
exiled to the wartime internment
camps, an event that drastically
impacts the overall direction of the
plot while revealing and prodding at
one of the uglier scars present on the
underbelly of American history. In
this respect, the film also effectively
examines an often unexplored era of
injustice and prejudice.
"Snow Falling on Cedars" is, with-
out a doubt, an incredibly wonderful
adaptation of a novel. However, there
is some question as to its merit apart
from its literary template. If one
ignores the beautiful framework pro-
vided by Guterson forgetting that the
film is an attempt at true imitation of a
beautiful literary style, the story often
gets bogged down in its own self-
important sense of the aesthetic.
Repeated images become tedious
when one forgets that their repetition is
formally intentional in the screenwrit-
ers' honorable task of mirroring of the
author's intent. If the viewer is unaware
of Guterson's work, they may find
themselves a bit bored at the film's
slow-developing storyline.
Therefore, even in the case of


-novel's author. One need not worry
too much about the aesthetic ideals
of John Grisham or Michael
Criohtoi when one signs a contract
-to direct his latest legal thriller. But
an author such as Toni Morrison or
Williani Shakespeare demands a bit
.more respect, and the translation
from page to screen deserves a more

Courtesy of Universal Pictyr
Scott Hicks' adaptation of the David Guterson novel "Snow Falling on Cedars" stars Ethan Hawke as reporter Ismael Chambers.

"Snow Falling on Cedars," an excellent
adaptation of an admirable novel, it
may be important to "Read the book

first." For while the film is a far cry numerous other literary masterpieces-
from the wholesale massacre commit- it does rely heavily on Guterson's brl-
ted in the cinematic translation of liant work in its predecessor.
Exhibit proves Mock L

an artist, not just a
'Times' illustrator


, -..

'I, ".ins

By Jim Schiff
and Rosemary Metz
Daily Arts Writers
A myriad of emotional responses
awaits the viewer at the Jean Paul
Slusser Gallery's newest exhibit, a
collection of linocuts by University
alum Richard Mock, a former illus-
trator for "The New York Times."
"Richard Mock: Mock of the
Times" is a fascinating collection of
more than 60 linocuts from the New
York Times. Between July 23, 1980
and April 19, 1986, Richard Mock's
linocuts illustrated and offered com-
mentary for editorials and letters to
the editor. Thomas Porter and
Kathleen Crispell donated this port-
folio to the School of Art & Design.
Mock's linocuts represent a wide
range of political and artistic endeavor.
The designs are intricate and complex,

_ ..
" ,,

Mock of the Times
Jean Paul Slusser

carefully and
detailed. Each
one is a response
to an event, or to
an editorial letter.
These respons-
es represent a
range of-Mock's
personal emo-
tions. The whim-
sical piece "On
the Incidence of
Alligators and
Hard Times"
illustrates an

shapes. Generally, the larger forms are
drawn in black, and then whiteis
drawn on to show details, folds aid
creases. In "No Point in Treasuring
Billy Beer Cans," Mock employs thin
white lines to show dents in beer cans;
scratches on a magnifying glass, and
ripples in a liquid. To do this, Mock uti-
lizes the medium of the linocut, which
is similar to woodblock in appearance,
form, and function but done tn
His work is surprisingly three-.
dimensional and lively for newspapr
artwork. In "How Insurers Invite*
Arson," Mock makes the flames come
alive by layering the texture of the fire;
while staying loyal to the black-and-
white palette. The flames seem like
animated beings, engulfing the open
air around them. In most of his illustra-
tions, Mock captures an action in
progress, rather than a still-life portrait: -
Equally impressive is his use of art
to express the written word. It is clear
that at times he uses his own personal
interpretation of an issue as the basis
for an illustration as well. He brilliant-
ly depicts a letter to the editor y
Charles Issawi in "Man-Made
Seasons" The letter was about the
lengths to which individuals go-toa
adjust the temperature of their homes.
Here, Mock shows an intense sun beat-
ing down on a melting igloo, to exag-'
gerate the paranoia that often accompa-
nies summier heat.
The humor in his illustrations is~
their most intoxicating aspect."In
"The Safety Trade-Off of Fuel
Efficient Cars," he shows a vehicle"
being consumed by a dog, to illustrate
how larger cars threaten smaller ones
in terms of safety. "Northeast of
Eden: 11 Tales of Serpents" exagge-
ates the human fear of snakes, bf
depicting an oversized pythdr
enveloping a helpless woman. Mock'
most brilliant piece is the hilarious'A
Print Addict Tells All," illustrating the
quirky habits of subway passengers.-
This extraordinary exhibit cele-
brates a talented artist, who is gifted
both with the pencil and content
Mock's sense of humor and ability-to-
transfer elements of everyday life
and current events onto paper ar.
impeccable. These traits mak
"Richard Mock: Mock of the Times"
a must-see event..0

urban fable regarding the presence of
live alligators in Manhattan sewers. "Of
Time's Passing and the River of
Memories" represents tender works with
an elegiac piece featuring football-toss-
ing turtles surrounded by two coffins.
"Saturn's Revolutions," is a study of the
Voyager missions, encoded with
mythology and mystery. In addition,
Mock makes strong political statements
in his work. "The New Republican
Agenda," for example, features three
elephants, in classic poses of "Hear no
evil, see no evil, speak no evil," com-
pleted in 1998.
Mock's style is simplistic but incred-
ibly effective. He uses simple black and
white, but the works appear to be more
colorful than they actually are. Not a
space is left uncovered on the paper-
each is intricately covered with varying
lengths of brushstroke and jagged


Magic Mann swoons.

The concept of the motion picture
soundtrack album has changed so many
times in the past two decades that one
hesitates to define it now.
Thank you, Aimee Mann, for yet
another definition.
"Magnolia" (Reprise) takes a severe
left turn in the genre and in the process,
makes a powerful musical statement by
an artist who has long languished in the

says that he wrote the movie "back--
ward" from a line in Mann's "Deathly."
"It equals the story of Claudia, it
equals the heart and soul of Magnolia,'
Anderson wrote. "So one could do th,
math and realize that all stories come
from Aimee's brain, not mine."
So what we've got here is a chicken-
egg situation: songs written for a movie
that visualizes the songs. Brittle and
bold, Mann's songs for the film are

: n


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