WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS--Updates, Reviews and Discussion

Discuss the latest Johnny Depp news, his career, past and future projects, and other related issues.
justintime
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Re: WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS--Updates, Reviews and Discussion

Unread post by justintime » Fri Aug 07, 2020 3:02 pm

nebraska wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 7:06 pm

I pre-ordered the DVD on Amazon for $11.99 -- free shipping with Prime -- I thought when I ordered it that the delivery date was supposed to be August 11 but now I see it will be released September 8. A DVD that you can watch over and over is the same price as a rental? Most movies are just 4 or 5 dollars to rent on Amazon.
Thank you, fireflydances:

I did the same thing, nebraska. At the time, waiting an extra four days seemed borderline manageable. But when I saw the release date pushed back a month, I was really disappointed. I’m now thinking of looking into fireflydances’ link, letting the DVD purchase stand, and cutting corners somewhere else.

Seems like forever since I read the book. Like the dust of the tale’s setting, though, the story never really leaves the brain. Very curious to see how and where Colonel Joll’s part was expanded;
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Re: WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS--Updates, Reviews and Discussion

Unread post by nebraska » Fri Aug 07, 2020 4:09 pm

Amazon has it to rent now for $6.99

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Re: WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS--Updates, Reviews and Discussion

Unread post by justintime » Fri Aug 07, 2020 6:34 pm

Wow - thanks, nebraska! I wouldn’t have even bothered looking again at Amazon if you hadn’t said something. :daisyforyou
"Stay low." ~ JD
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Re: WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS--Updates, Reviews and Discussion

Unread post by fireflydances » Fri Aug 07, 2020 8:35 pm

Yesterday I provided links to several reviews of Waiting for the Barbarians. I was able to quickly collect these because Stephen Deuters kindly collected all reviews on his twitter feed. Rather than just have the links, which do expire, I have gone back and copied the text. Thus, one can read reviews to their hearts content. Note that one of these reviews was originally written in October 2019 around the time Waiting for the Barbarians premiered in London.

There are some reviews I can not bring over, or even read. Wall Street Journal is one, and Stephen thought the Journal's review was particularly thoughtful. So, if you are a subscriber, perhaps you can copy and post. I am sure all of us would love to read it.
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WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS--Updates, Reviews and Discussion

Unread post by nebraska » Sun Aug 09, 2020 4:13 pm

Has anyone watched it yet? I am eager to hear your reviews. I am waiting (impatiently) until Thursday when my daughter-in-law is available to watch with me.

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WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS--Updates, Reviews and Discussion

Unread post by fireflydances » Sun Aug 09, 2020 8:09 pm

Too busy to watch this weekend. I am ordering from Amazon Prime, I believe it's also $5.99. I always wait to watch stuff, that tantalizing time when what you may see, experience, hear waits for you.
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WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS--Updates, Reviews and Discussion

Unread post by fireflydances » Mon Aug 10, 2020 1:25 pm

This is my favorite review thus far, and written by a woman! The writer really understands Coetzee's intent in writing the book, and in crafting a mythic world with mythical characters. Think of Greek myths and how the characters are intentionally not fully human. They are not meant to be because if they were the reader and the watcher might not be able to understand the overarching message.


WE ARE MOVIE GEEKS

WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS REVIEW
Cate Marquis
August 7, 2020



If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail, the old saying goes, and if you assume everyone is your enemy, they might become exactly that. WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS is drama based on J. M. Coetzee’s novel, that presents a cautionary tale about nations or empires sowing the seeds of their own destruction in their search for imagined threats. Mark Rylance, Johnny Depp and Robert Pattinson star in director Ciro Guerra’s powerful adaptation of J.M. Coetzee’s classic novel of the same name, in a haunting cautionary tale of empire and cultural misunderstanding, with a striking contemporary echoes.

There is a lot of talent assembled in this film – an Oscar-nominated director, a Nobel Prize-winning author, an Oscar winning cinematographer, and Oscar winners and nominees among the fine cast. Such as assemblage doesn’t guarantee success but it has worked here. Although this myth-like story takes place in an unspecified time and place, the points it makes are universal, concerning the dangers of the false assumptions of torture and militaristic mindsets. Torture tends to extract the information you want – even if it is not true. History has shown this time and again, from the Inquisition to Abu Ghraib.

WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS fits in well with the anti-colonial message of the director’s previous work. This is the first English-language film by Colombian director Ciro Guerra, whose previous films include the Oscar-nominated EMRACE OF THE SERPENT. Guerra has long been an admirer of the novel WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS by Nobel Prize-winning South African author J. M. Coetzee. The director made at least two previous efforts to bring the award-winning novel to the big screen before succeeding – oh-so-well – with this one.

Mark Rylance plays the Magistrate, a mild-mannered colonial administrator who has long been in charge of a remote garrison outpost on a quiet, sparsely populated border of an unnamed colonial empire. The Magistrate efficiently and fairly handles the few problems that arise in this sleepy corner of the unnamed empire, which leaves him plenty of time for his hobby of amateur archaeology exploring the ancient history of the region.

When an official from the empire’s center, Colonel Joll (Johnny Depp), arrives in his fine carriage with a small contingent of soldiers, the Magistrate is not concerned. He greets the officious Joll politely and prepares to make his report on conditions around the garrison. As the Magistrate tells one of his assistants, he has seen this before. Every ten years, he says, the empire feels the need to send someone to check on the “barbarians” on the border, just to make sure all is right, and then they leave.

The Magistrate expects the same from this colonel but Joll is different. With a decidedly unpleasant, even arrogant manner, Joll constantly wears his newly-invented sunglasses which conceal his eyes and seems little interested in the Magistrate’s efforts to tell him about the current conditions on the border. Instead, Joll’s focus falls on a pair of nomads, “barbarians” he arrested on the way to the garrison, and Joll’s methods involve torture. The Magistrate is shocked but, suppressing his feelings, he calmly quizzes Joll about the usefulness of the torture. Joll reveals his belief that “the enemy,” meaning the nomads just beyond the border, are planning an attack on the empire, and then extols his own skill at extracting information, never once acknowledging that his victims might have no secret information to tell.

When Joll leaves the garrison to check on other parts of the border, the Magistrate’s disgust spill overs, and he cleans the garrison of all traces of the colonel’s visit, restoring it to its usual peaceful, orderly life. But then another the officer of the empire shows up, an assistant to Joll named Mandel (Robert Pattinson). Mandel as even more brutal and committed to ferreting out a secret invasion by the barbarians.

Two-time Oscar winning cinematographer Chris Menges (THE KILLING FIELDS, THE MISSION, THE READER) fills the screen with sweeping desert vistas, dusty interiors of the garrison, and views of the Magistrate’s neat, book-filled office. The photography is stunning, imbuing the film with a sense of its remoteness and isolation, and setting the characters in that same overwhelmingly stark place.

The story is very much in the vein of the mythic, and the actors play characters that are symbolic of forces within human nature as much as people. Rylance, Depp and Pattinson are all superb, although the greatest load in telling this tale falls to the gifted Rylance, who plays both the human heart and a voice of decency overwhelmed by drive to war and suspicions of the “other.”

Beyond the lead actors, fine performances are offered by Greta Scacchi as the Magistrate’s housekeeper Mai, a sympathetic ear who also represents the civilians buffeted by the dangerous decisions of Joll and Mandel, and Harry Melling as a young soldier serving under the Magistrate, torn by what he sees. Both actors make the most of these small but important roles. Gana Bayarsaikhan, a striking Mongolian model-turned-actress who had minor roles in WONDER WOMAN and EX MACHINA, appears as a pivot character identified only as the “barbarian girl,” in a nice performance in her first major screen role.

Although the story seems to take place in a distant time and place, what it is saying about human nature is chillingly contemporary and timeless. The story takes place at a purposely vague place and time, at an outpost at the a distant border of an unspecified empire, a deliberate choice of the novel. The dusty, windswept desert location and the Asian features of the nomad suggests Central Asia, the uniforms suggest the French Foreign Legion, and other details suggest the 19th Century, but nothing is definite. In fact, the film was shot in Morocco and Italy,and the cast playing the garrison’s officials and solders sport British accents. All that matters is that it is some colonial power and an outpost on a remote border, in a quiet, sparsely populated area very far from the center of the empire.

WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS is divided into four chapters labeled by season but not quite in order. Colonel Joll arrives in the heat of summer, where his brutality scorches the landscape. Mandel does not arrive until the cold, dark winter, bringing dismay that the chapter opened in summer continues. There is another chapter set in spring, centered on a teen know only as “the barbarian girl” (Gana Bayarsaikhan), who turns up at the garrison, an apparent victim of torture. The final chapter, tellingly, is set in fall.

This is an impressive piece of mythic film making, powerful parable about colonialism, brutality toward the “other,’ and how we can inadvertently create the danger we fear. The drama sends a powerful message about torture in particular, and the danger in the ignorance of other cultures and misunderstandings arising out of mistaken assumptions. WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS is available on demand and on digital starting on Friday, Aug. 7.

RATING: 3 1/2 out of 4 stars
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WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS--Updates, Reviews and Discussion

Unread post by fireflydances » Mon Aug 10, 2020 3:46 pm



THE NEW REPUBLIC

The Brutal World of Waiting for the Barbarians
Johnny Depp and Mark Rylance play the enforcers of empire in the film based on J.M. Coetzee’s novel.

Lidija Haas/August 7, 2020
The Brutal World of Waiting for the Barbarians
Johnny Depp and Mark Rylance play the enforcers of empire in the film based on J.M. Coetzee’s novel.


It’s not clear quite what era you’re in. The place seems dislocated in time, an imperial outpost somewhere in the desert, its manners and materials evidently imported from some far-off capital. It looks hot and hazy and a little quaint, as if everyone knows they’re playing their parts in a reassuring period piece—dusty pack animals moving slowly in the sun, staff murmuring to one another as they prepare food. Waiting for the Barbarians is an adaptation of J.M. Coetzee’s 1980 novel, in which time and place likewise remain unfixed and allegorical, with many important characters unnamed: the warrant officer, the magistrate, the girl. Yet despite its nostalgic trappings, the film, Colombian director Ciro Guerra’s English-language debut, soon reveals itself as timely in the extreme: This is a parable of the good cop.

You know it because into the very first scene sweeps an unmistakable bad cop: pale, smirking Johnny Depp in all-black military garb, complete with an ankle-length cape fit for the angel of death. His eyes are invisible behind small, round sunglasses, which are remarked on as a bizarre new contraption. You can’t tell what he’s thinking but you can bet it’s monstrous. Depp plays Colonel Joll, sent from imperial headquarters to inspect the settlement and investigate the activities of the nomadic people who live off the surrounding land. He is greeted by the magistrate (Mark Rylance), a courteous, sensitive man with a weather-beaten face, dressed head-to-toe in beige clothing that matches the landscape, as if he has devised an inoffensive way to coexist with it. Beside him Depp, raising his glasses to show off his unlined skin, looks comically sinister. Soon he’s explaining his methodical approach to interrogations, pausing as he goes, with the air of a connoisseur: “First lies. Then pressure. Then more lies, then more pressure. Then more lies, more pressure, and then comes the break. After the break, more pressure. And then at last, the truth.” He is confident he can identify that special tone of truth when he hears it, perhaps because truth here is instrumental—there comes a point when a subject will give up whatever Joll has decided to extract. “Pain is truth; all else is subject to doubt.”

The desired truth in this case is that terrifying barbarian hordes have been preparing an assault on the settlement, and the Empire must send out its own expeditionary troops to subdue them, pushing the insurgent natives back into the mountains. It’s clear at once that the magistrate is in for degradations that will tax his mind to its limits, yet he holds fast to his British politeness. (Though no particular nation is mentioned, all the administrators, soldiers, and policemen lean with relish into mustache-twirling English enunciation.) Before long, he’s encountering the truth’s first casualties—Joll’s leavings, traumatized and half-dead people.

The tortures seem like metaphors. The town observes a string of prisoners, attached by a length of wire threaded through their jaws, so that they move delicately, watch one another, stay quiet. The magistrate takes one of the first victims to live with him in his rooms, a young woman with broken feet, her eyes burned with hot tongs so that she can only see around the edges, tilting her head. This is in part a film about not seeing what you can’t bear to see, no matter the contortions required to keep on not seeing it, and many shots reinforce that idea: The magistrate, trying to ascertain just what Joll’s team has done to some captured nomads, questions junior soldiers in the dark, turning his back to them; a small group crosses the desert in a sandstorm, the whole screen a blur of illegible forms.

The magistrate is, he announces early on, a man of no great ambition. Conquest isn’t his thing. He’ll be content with a legacy of “three lines in the imperial gazette” as someone who, with a nudge here and there, “kept the world on its course.” For most of his career, we understand, he has been able to do this without too much exertion, moral or physical, and so the arrival of the bad cops, lusting to police the perimeter and expand it, causes him shock and distress. As things get worse, he asks one of this new breed of torturers how he finds it possible to eat with friends and family after carrying out his tasks. But his own appetites are robust, and he acknowledges that the native people don’t enjoy his presence and haven’t consented to it. They are the ones stuck waiting, hoping to outlast the Empire.

The magistrate treats the young woman (Gana Bayarsaikhan) with kindness, and, Christ-like, washes her injured feet. He even decides, at considerable risk to himself, to take her into the mountains to find someone who can help her back to what remains of her family. He examines her scars gently and presents himself as in every way different from her torturers. “You should tell me everything,” he says, when she hesitates to reveal what was done to her. “Tell them the truth,” he says when they encounter a group of men in the foothills, and she gives him a skeptical look in return. Why would he want her to tell her people what really happened on his watch?

Coetzee’s novel is narrated by the magistrate, but here much of his soul-searching must be conveyed visually. The most disturbing thing about Joll’s sunglasses is that you can see your own reflection in them. Empire is as much a question of extraction, domination, and the ever-present threat of torture as it is of gentle cultivation, studying local artifacts, reading the classics, sipping a cocktail in the shade. The one rests on the other.

After returning from his mission in the desert, the magistrate has a precipitous fall, and his sometime fiefdom starts to decline along with him. He is arrested, robbed of his comforts, accused of treason, humiliated in the public square as he attempts to take a stand for reason and decency. There’s a quietly disorienting scene in which the disheveled magistrate appears in his own expropriated office before Joll and a younger colleague, played by Depp’s cinematic heir, Robert Pattinson. To see two generations of teen idol turned arthouse star, their striking bone structures repurposed for camp villainy, feels a bit like a joke about the barbarism at the heart of our civilization, how both crude and sophisticated are the tastes expressed by our collective unconscious. You can imagine the last of us recognizing Johnny Depp’s face, rather than Lady Liberty’s, poking out of the sandy rubble of the future.

The policemen mock the ruined magistrate for his moral vanity, for posing as “the one just man.” When he appeals to the rules, the law, he is sneered at: The rules can be altered or ignored at whim. “We have no record of you,” one of them tells him. And in these borderlands, anything can be removed from the record: “There is no history here.” In the book, Coetzee’s magistrate thinks that empire itself “has created the time of history … located its existence not in the smooth recurrent spinning time of the cycle of the seasons but in the jagged time of rise and fall, of beginning and end, of catastrophe.” Hunting down its scapegoats by day, “By night it feeds on images of disaster: the sack of cities, the rape of populations, pyramids of bones, acres of desolation.”

Waiting for the Barbarians shares its title with the Cavafy poem that ends “those people were a kind of solution.” The so-called barbarians stand in for that other, lesser person—coded as foreign, threatening, criminal—who can be used to scare the populace and justify any authoritarian measures. This person doesn’t exist but needs to be invented. It’s easy to create an enemy at home or abroad, but not so easy to control the consequences. Rylance’s bemused face, the magistrate’s consciousness that he has aged without growing out of his central illusions, carries a familiar pathos. His oasis is now being run by brutes—bullying and killing, burning through resources rather than measuring them out slowly, judiciously. He doesn’t recognize himself in his leaders, and feels he can’t have chosen or enabled them. But we do produce our leaders, and our enforcers—our cops—as well.
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WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS--Updates, Reviews and Discussion

Unread post by Ruby Begonia » Mon Aug 10, 2020 11:45 pm

I liked the movie. Here's the WSJ review that indicates it's shareable but I must not be entering the link correctly.

Johnny's Joll had been compared to Brando in Apocolypse Now and Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove, but I got a sense of Michael Caine from Zulu. The score, particularly when the magistrate is taking the girl through the desert, reminds me of The Lone Ranger. Would have liked more Depp and Pattinson (but not more torture).


Waiting for the Barbarians’ Review: A Parable of Timeless Relevance
By John Anderson Aug. 6, 2020 6:13 pm ET
Wall Street Journal


Mark Rylance and Johnny Depp star in an adaptation of J.M. Coetzee’s harrowing novel about a colonial bureaucrat and a sadistic military officer.

With a screenplay by Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee from his 1980 novel, “Waiting for the Barbarians” is a parable of depressingly timeless relevance, which means it’s faithful to its source material. Set in an uncertain era at an unnamed outpost of an unnamed empire that manufactures enemies to suit its untidy objectives, the setting could be British India, Nazi Germany, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, or Mr. Coetzee’s native South Africa under apartheid—anywhere, really, where opportunists and sadists have assumed the administration of what passes for policy.

Per director Ciro Guerra, Mr. Coetzee’s harrowing story takes place mostly in a frontier town in a seemingly Central Asian country where the Mongolic people on its outskirts have been dubbed “barbarians.” The unnamed Magistrate of the village (Mark Rylance) administers the necessary local justice—the returning of a pig to its rightful owner, for instance—and maintains order, civility and a rational attitude toward the locals. He knows them to be peaceful, nomadic and historic; he’s overseeing his own small archaeological dig outside the walls, where he rescues fragments of ancient writing, seemingly on bone. He knows, too, that his neighbors operate on the belief that one day the colonials will simply go away. And he doesn’t disagree. The Magistrate, in other words, is a good man and a bad bureaucrat, and both have a bleak future.

That future arrives in the person of Colonel Joll, who is played by Johnny Depp, an actor whose intersection with Mr. Rylance provides some extranarrative delight in what is otherwise a despairing tale. It’s a collision of talents, technique and even philosophy: The much-honored Mr. Rylance can be an antidote to actorly artifice; Mr. Depp is a delivery system for eccentricity. The conventional characters he’s played over the past several decades can probably be counted on one hand, and Joll seems to be modeled in parts on Erich von Stroheim in “Grand Illusion” and Peter Sellers as Dr. Strangelove—although the latter might have to do with Joll’s rather dramatic sunglasses. The Magistrate has never seen a pair. What do they do? They protect the eyes, Joll explains; they reduce one’s squint in the remorseless sun of the Empire’s farthest reaches.

They also help disguise the fact that he has no soul, though the Magistrate pegs his opponent-to-be as a sadist from the moment they meet and Joll explains his techniques of “patience” and “pressure” in extracting the truth from the nomads he has captured—and tortured, maimed and sometimes killed. How do you differentiate the truth when you hear it, he is asked? “There is a certain tone that enters the voice,” Joll begins to explain, but the involuntary throb of pleasure that envelops the words is all we need to know the man. It’s also a masterstroke of technique by Mr. Depp.


It’s Mr. Rylance’s movie, though, and the story belongs to the Magistrate, whose instinctive reaction to Colonel Joll and his depravity is to shut it out—he orders the torture victims not only freed but cast away; he wants to shut the evidence of horror from his sight. His reflex is to turn his back, to ignore the obvious and delude himself into thinking things can ever get back to normal, and in doing so he sins, and then repents, by nursing a young vagrant woman (Gana Bayarsaikhan) whose ankles have been broken. He vows to return her to her people, an all-but-fatal miscalculation. And he inflicts his own form of torture on her, by using compassion instead of a club.

Mr. Guerra’s hallucinatory “Embrace of the Serpent” (2015) was celebrated for its mostly black-and-white cinematography by David Gallego, but was also about the perversion of religion, and the cruelties of warped evangelism. “Waiting for the Barbarians”—in which cinematographer Chris Menges’s work is more subtle, in color, but equally gorgeous—is also making observations of a spiritual nature. The Empire is a soulless entity, of course (viewers should be warned that the violence inflicted is both creative and creatively depraved). But the Magistrate, in his nightly washing of the Girl’s wounded feet, is enacting a Passion Play with a Christian subtext, and yet one without redemption on its itinerary. Mr. Guerra, with the author’s consent, gives us an ending that wasn’t in the book, and suggests a more conclusive ending to the Magistrate’s suffering. Mr. Coetzee left fate in the void, which is perhaps where it rightfully belonged.

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WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS--Updates, Reviews and Discussion

Unread post by AdeleAgain » Tue Aug 11, 2020 4:21 am

That is a fantastic review - I haven't seen it yet (maddeningly 7 September in UK, no August as I thought) but so lovely to read. I think JD will love to hear someone say that he's a delivery system for eccentricity.

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WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS--Updates, Reviews and Discussion

Unread post by gipsyblues » Tue Aug 11, 2020 4:49 am

:thankyou: fireflydances and Ruby Begonia
AdeleAgain wrote:
Tue Aug 11, 2020 4:21 am
I think JD will love to hear someone say that he's a delivery system for eccentricity.
:grin:
I think the same :-)

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WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS--Updates, Reviews and Discussion

Unread post by fireflydances » Tue Aug 11, 2020 1:22 pm

Ruby Begonia wrote:
Mon Aug 10, 2020 11:45 pm
I liked the movie. Here's the WSJ review that indicates it's shareable but I must not be entering the link correctly.
Ruby Begonia! Thank you SO MUCH for posting the Wall Street Journal review. I am not a subscriber and the Journal just wasn't interested in me reading the review without paying for same. I really wanted this particular review because Stephen Deuters indicated that it was a very thoughtful review, and of course I now understand why he said that.
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Unread post by Ruby Begonia » Wed Aug 12, 2020 1:13 am

:girlwave2: You're all very welcome!

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WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS--Updates, Reviews and Discussion

Unread post by justintime » Wed Aug 12, 2020 12:24 pm

Thank you, all, for taking the time to post these reviews.

I may be off base here, and honestly am not at all comfortable in suggesting this to my peers, but I think we need to take advantage of more ways to support Johnny and this very special film. That seedy - but heavily trafficked and referenced - site, Rotten Tomatoes, is currently showing a 57% positive critics review and a 70% Audience Score. As is to be expected, the Audience Score has dropped (from an initial 82%) since RT first started showing it, and that 70% marker has now been hovering for a few days.

I think we can make a difference here and it would be one Johnny would be sure to appreciate. If you’ve seen the film and have some positive things to say, perhaps you could, (if you haven’t already :blush:), submit a few comments in its favor? I wouldn’t mention something I wouldn’t do myself, so I did so a couple days ago.

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/waitin ... rians_2019

If this post is in any way offensive or breaking of ZONE rules in any way, please delete and accept my sincere apologies beforehand.
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WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS--Updates, Reviews and Discussion

Unread post by nebraska » Thu Aug 13, 2020 4:58 pm

I have seen it! :cool:

I always wonder what I would think of a movie if I had not read the book first. There were whole segments from the book that weren't explored in the movie. A few things were hinted at, but if you blinked you might have missed them. At times I thought the book was plodding and dull, but in retrospect some of those passages were necessary to really set the scene, to really explain the characters and their interactions, and to demonstrate the importance of events like citizens moving out of the settlement. At times I found myself wondering "what happened to this or that..." I know a book and a movie are two different forms of art and I understand a movie, by nature, must be concise and quick and limited. But in this case I felt a lot of the impact of the book was missing and the moral it was meant to impart was pale in comparison of how it moved me in the book. But that is me. Having read the book and had some background and discussion in ONBC here at the Zone, maybe I was over-prepared.

Visually it is a really beautiful film. There was some wonderful music as well. The actors all did their parts superbly. The Magistrate seems mostly bewildered, tender and kind and peaceful throughout and Johnny is unrelenting evil as Col Joll. Only in his last scene does he ever show so much as an iota of humanity. Kudos to Johnny who is so hard to dislike! This character is a horrible man.