jump to navigation

A Quick Note April 15, 2013

Posted by rwf1954 in books compared to movies, books into movies, fusion jazz, historical fiction, Issa, Issa Legend, medieval period, movies based on books, music, music commentary, mystic jazz, Richard the Lionheart, Richard Warren Field, Saladin, the crusades, The Swords of Faith, third crusade, writers.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

This is a quick update for my blog followers (or any other interested visitors) who are accustomed to seeing more frequent posts from me. The posts will be a little less frequent for a few months. I am at work on getting The Sultan and the Khan ready for publication. This is the sequel to my award-winning novel The Swords of Faith. The Sultan and the Khan will also be published by Strider Nolan Media (the folks who brought you The Swords of Faith). I’m also at work on the third novel of his trilogy, The Ghosts of Baghdad, set around the time of the Fourteenth Century “Black Death.”

I am also recording tracks for my CD “The Richard Warren Field Songbook.”

The track list:

1 – Fishbowl 4:28 (original)
2 – Hotel California 6:23 (cover)
3 – Magic 6:20 (cover)
4 – Mystic Tide 4:17 (original)
5 – Up from the Skies 5:03 (cover)
6 – A Hundred Thousand Friends 5:35 (original)
7 – All Blues 9:48 (cover)
8 – Chase this Mood 4:22 (original)
9 – Black Hole Sun 5:47 (cover)
10 – Purple Haze 3:52 (cover)
11 – Shanghai Noodle Factory 6:01 (cover)
12 – Avalon 6:36 (cover)
13 – Live Your Dreams 4:14 (original)

I hope to have this ready for release later this year.

But this blog will not be without posts! Coming up during the first part of May will be my final post on the nature of music, concluding a series of posts that turned out to be a lot longer and more involved than I thought it would be. And, in mid-May, I will post a Books-Into-Movies on “The Great Gatsby”—I’ll compare the book to the new movie release and to the Robert Redford movie of 1974.

Thanks for stopping by. Drop me a line any time at rwfcom@wgn.net.

Previous “Personal Notes” Posts:

Advertisements

Book Commentary/Review – THE BURNING CANDLE by Lisa Yarde February 16, 2013

Posted by rwf1954 in book review, books, historical fiction, Lisa Yarde, medieval period.
Tags: , , , , , ,
add a comment

The Burning Candle by Lisa Yarde is a compelling historical novel recreating the life of Isabel de Vermandois, a young woman who finds herself thrust into the early days of Norman rule over newly conquered England—just before the era of Ken Follette’s Pillars of the Earth. Yarde brings accurate history and informed speculation together with a mastery of plot and dialogue to offer an entertaining and informative read.

The Burning Candle is historical fiction/biography. We follow Isabel de Vermandois’ life from pre-pubescence to middle age—every event is depicted from her point-of-view. This brings us deeply into her character. We feel her frustration with her parents’ abuse and her frustration as her life seems but a tool for others, with Isabel having no control over what her life will be. Here she is, with regal blood coursing through her veins, with talent and intelligence, but subject to the whims and desires of others, mainly older men. At first her marriage to a man her father’s age seems an improvement in her situation. But it is actually a descent into torment as her husband hides a life-affecting secret, and brutalizes her in ways that make her parents look benign in comparison.

Years later, after giving birth to a number of male heirs for older husband, she finds herself finally with a choice, a choice brought to her with a daring move made by a man she had reviled as nearly evil incarnate. Does Isabel finally make her own choice, or does she succumb to duty? This is the dramatic question at the climax of The Burning Candle.

Lisa Yarde demonstrates a command of her craft as she weaves an entertaining story out of a lesser-known bit of history. The depth of her research is evident in the detailed historical note at the end of The Burning Candle. If you are a reader looking for a slice of history presented in an entertaining way, every bit as worthy as a book by masters like Sharon Kay Penman or Elizabeth Chadwick, The Burning Candle will be a great choice for your next book to read.

Book Commentary/Review – THE CONTESSA’S VENDETTA by Mirella Patzer February 10, 2013

Posted by rwf1954 in book review, books, historical fiction, medieval period, Mirella Patzer.
Tags: , , , , , ,
add a comment

The Contessa’s Vendetta by Mirella Sichirollo Patzer is a well-crafted story of love-betrayed, revenge-realized, with twists and turns for readers who will know where they are going, but will not get there along the path they expect. The novel is great escapist entertainment, giving readers a completely convincing immersion into an exotic past time and place.

The main character is the good-hearted but also naïve and gullible Contessa Carlotta Mancini. She is sauntering through her comfortable life when she contracts the plague. In a matter of hours, she is given up for dead and buried in the family crypt. The only problem is—she is not dead! She extricates herself from her internment and returns to her home only to discover that her husband and best friend are not and never have been the loving companions she thought they were. In fact, both of these characters, the closest companions of her life, are quite despicable creatures, who have been betraying the contessa for years with casual malice. This allows readers to enjoy what the countess hatches to right the wrongs.

Two quirks of fate give Countess Carlotta her chance to take her time with her plot to carry out her vendetta. Her ordeal with the plague has changed her appearance enough to disguise her from those who knew her before, and she stumbles onto the resources needed to execute her plan. As Countess Carlotta’s plan evolves, readers will turn pages to find out exactly how she will enforce her revenge. And the unredeeming nature of the countess’s husband and best friend magnifies as the story unfolds, goading readers into wishing for the revenge to pay off. With the craft of a story-teller in command of her art, Patzer masterfully weaves the deeper discovery of the natures of these characters into the approaching moment of the contessa’s final justice.

The Contessa’s Vendetta climaxes with the full blossoming of Contessa Carlotta’s revenge. But the ending leaves us asking if anyone really won, or if Contessa Carlotta simply lost less severely. With this question reverberating, Patzer’s novel concludes with a deeper question—does revenge, even a just one, ever really balance the scales?

2013 – What I’ll Be Offering This Year at this Blog January 7, 2013

Posted by rwf1954 in books compared to movies, books into movies, fusion jazz, historical fiction, Issa, Issa Legend, medieval period, movies based on books, music, music commentary, mystic jazz, Richard the Lionheart, Richard Warren Field, Saladin, the crusades, The Swords of Faith, third crusade, writers.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

2012 was a year of many posts here at CreativeEccentric, living up to the impulsive name I gave to my blog in 2010. My 820th Anniversary “Third Crusade” series, pertaining to my award-winning novel The Swords of Faith, came to its conclusion, followed by a bonus Christmas post. (There will be two more intriguing bonus 820th Anniversary posts coming up early in 2013—stay tuned.) My monthly posts on the selections from my “Issa Music” CD also concluded with my recent January 1st post on Track 13, “West Meets East” (the final track on the CD). My series on the nature of music and music’s possible link between to physics and metaphysics is coming to its conclusion—I ended up with a lot more posts on this that I had foreseen. (Here’s a link to the most recent post on this subject, which has links to all the previous posts.) 2013, I suspect, will be a year of fewer posts. But with traffic multiplying as the posts multiply, readers can be assured I will continue posting on popular topics for the foreseeable future:

  1. Books-Into-Movies posts will continue—they are among the most popular pages here. There are two coming up in January—on “Anna Karenina” and on “Lincoln.” I will pick and choose these as they strike me. They may pertain to upcoming movies (and television miniseries), or to past classic movies. They will usually have a historical aspect to them.
  2. I will be posting commentaries about books written by authors I know. This will expose my readers to books they may not have heard of anywhere else, but may very well enjoy.
  3. I will be producing one, maybe two CDs in 2013. This will lead to posts about music (in addition to my concluding posts on the nature of music).

Beyond that, there is always the unexpected. Anyone who has been with me over the last the 2½ years of this blog will attest to that!

I hope everyone has a happy and productive new year and enjoys what I have to offer here, and through other creative outlets.

*******

Previous “Personal Notes” Posts:

CADD™: A Personal Confession August 24, 2012

Posted by rwf1954 in creativity, historical fiction, Issa, Issa Legend, music, mystic jazz, The Swords of Faith, writers, writing.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

The Diagnosis: Creative Attention Deficit Disorder 

The Prescription: Focus™ 

Yes, I have been struggling with CADD™ for most of my life, from the time I realized I am a creative person, maybe ten years after I was born. I am pleased to have identified this condition after all this time. There is little doubt this condition has shaped who I am, how my life is gone, and most importantly, what I offer to the public. All right, so what does that mean? Let’s take a look at it.

What is CADD™?
Creative Attention Deficit Disorder refers to bouncing from one creative interest to another, splitting attention between very different creative projects. In an age of genre-fication and specialization, those with this CADD™ condition can find carving out a life in the creative spheres to be difficult. We are supposed to seek out niches, and build audiences in those niches. For example, historical fiction as a specialty for a writer is no longer enough. Historical romance or historical mystery is even better, and historical romance or mystery set during a specific period, a whole series of books, is best of all. But we CADD™ people are niche jumpers—we’re easily bored with a narrow set of interests and are impulsively drawn to where our curiosity and inspiration take us.

What is the Treatment for the CADD™ Condition?
The medicine we are told to take is called Focus™ (generic substitute -“stay on one thing, stupid”). I’ve tried taking Focus™.  I just don’t tolerate it well. Because to “focus,” I need to choose. Even now, I wouldn’t know what choice to make even if I decided to take Focus™. Do I set aside my writing? My recent novel, The Swords of Faith, won three awards, and I have completed a follow-up novel (set six years later) with clear ideas for a third, and other follow-ups. Or do I set aside my music?  My CD “Issa Music” has over 300 fans around the world on internet radio, fans on every continent except Antarctica. This fan list is growing. 

So Will I Take the Medicine Now, At Long Last, Now that I Have a Diagnosis?
You can probably tell from the previous section—I’m not going to take this medicine. As I said, I have tried it before, and it hasn’t worked for me. I am now embracing my CADD™ condition. I will work with all the energy life grants me to go in every creative direction that feels right to me. My blog reflects this—my posts are all over the place here. I am not going to beat myself up over this anymore. I ask people only to consider what I have to offer without taking into consideration my CADD™ condition, that I am not a genre-fied specialist. If my writing works for you, enjoy it. If my music works for you, enjoy it. If you like it all, that’s fantastic. (And why not?) You may come to see connections. I am one person, so connections are bound to be there. Podcast interviewer Ron Hood, of Ron’s Amazing Stories, spotted a connection and we spoke about it during his interview with me. (Ron Hood was the best-prepared, most insightful interviewer I have ever had the pleasure to encounter—check out “Ron’s Amazing Stories” for his work with me and with others.) But it is still a broad connection, not an obvious one like those who have the skill to genre-fy/specialize.

The Consequences of Untreated CADD™
So for me, CADD™ is terminal. I will never cure it; I will never recover from it; I don’t want to. What has this meant? When you won’t grab that niche and stay there, it is harder to find success in the marketplace. We live in an increasingly cluttered and decentralized world of multiple communications channels. Specialization/genre-fication allows people focused on your interest to find you through those channels. But the generalist, the “Renaissance man” (or woman), has a lot harder time reaching an audience under these circumstances.

For me, this has meant I’ve been unable to make a living with my creativity. I have perceived this in the past as the profound failure of my life. (I am not whining here—everyone has failures. My life is abundant with wonderful successes and I am fine where I am now.) This has reduced my time for creativity. But I read something recently that brought me a lot of comfort, even a smile, as I think about this. (This was in the comment section of an article on the whether social media will remain an effective marketing tool.) There are many creative people in the world. Society does not have the resources to provide a livelihood for every creative person. (In primitive societies, story-telling and music-making were not specialties. They took place in a group setting with individuals contributing to the creative activities after their tasks to sustain the group were completed.) So, society arbitrarily supports some creative people over others. In our society, the marketplace generally decides who gets that support, though academia and government grants also play a limited role. And it is not necessarily the best who get the support! That is an important consideration in looking at all this. And looking back, this is true through history. Some creative people were paid—some had other occupations to sustain them. Some creative people whose work is now considered to have stood to test of time, achieving a consensus label of greatness, died destitute while others with lesser talents thrived. So as I have said before, I’m through beating myself up over this. I accept my CADD™ and its consequences.

Going Forward
As I said, I will indulge varied creative impulses with all the energy, talent and time I have available. My website displays what I have to offer. I invite people to enjoy whatever they find appealing. At this time, I still support myself with a “day job.” But that is even winding down—I can see ahead the day when I will “retire” from that. (I will never “retire” from creative projects—that’s impossible!) Now, if I hit the market right, I would love to make a living with music, or writing, or both! But, if that doesn’t happen, I’m still at peace with my CADD™ condition.

Do you have CADD™?
I do not believe I am alone, the only person “afflicted” with this CADD™ condition! If you see yourself in these words, in my story, I invite your comments. Share your own story. Share your thinking. We are being crowded out by the genre-fiers, by the specializers. Let’s speak out for ourselves, support each other, and continue to create. Over-specialization/over-genre-fication, narrows perspectives. The world needs CADD™  people because we are more likely to bring broad perspectives, big-picture, out-of-the-box thinking, to the world. We are important. CADD™ “sufferers” unite! We have nothing to lose but our apologies for our short creative attention spans!

Previous “Personal Notes” Posts:

Books-Into-Film Commentary – Birdsong (Part Two) May 2, 2012

Posted by rwf1954 in Birdsong, book synopsis, books, books compared to film, books compared to television, films based on books, historical fiction, movies based on books, Sebastian Faulks, television based on books, television commentary, World War I.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

(Richard Warren Field wrote the award-winning novel,
The Swords of Faith. Read why this book will make a great movie.)

This is part of two of my “Books-into-Film/Books-into-Television” post on “Birdsong,” based on the Sebastian Faulks novel, Birdsong(Part One was posted a week ago.) My comments here will address events from the second half of the production, and end with a synopsis of the book.

First, as I indicated in my post on Part One, the basic story of the novel, and the mood of the novel, are present. The two big conceptual changes I mentioned in my first post remain:

  • The television production focuses on the events of World War I period. The storyline set during the 1970s and involving Stephen Wraysford’s granddaughter Elizabeth Benson is not depicted at all.
  • The television production flashes back and forth constantly between Stephen’s experiences during World War I and his relationship with Isabelle. In the book, we do shift from period to period, but with much longer story sections between shifts. 

I’ll add to this a third larger conceptual variation between the book and the television production—Isabelle’s post Stephen-relationship story is seriously reduced and simplified. In the book, after the war begins (well after she leaves Stephen) she starts a relationship with a German officer during the German occupation of Amiens, and ends up moving to Germany with him (and with Stephen’s and her daughter). When Isabelle dies in the influenza epidemic just after the war, the German officer sends back Isabelle’s daughter to Jeanne, who marries Stephen. Another part of this is Stephen and Jeanne coming together, before the end of World War I, before Stephen’s final experiences in the tunnels. They get married, move to England, and raise Isabelle’s and Stephen’s daughter as their own. In the book, we meet a grown Francoise as part of the storyline involving Stephen Wraysford’s granddaughter (and get this story information as part of that storyline).

Other selected observations comparing the book to Part Two of the television production:

  • Stephen Wraysford’s decision to decline the opportunity to leave combat after he survives his time among corpses is directly from the book.
  • Jack Firebrace’s son dying of diphtheria back home is also from the book.
  • Stephen’s leave in Amiens, and his encounter with Jeanne, is from the book. But the story is slightly different. His meeting with Isabelle is slower to develop, and much less emotional. The chemistry between them seems obviously in the past. Also, Isabelle’s disfigurement as depicted in the book seemed to me to be more severe—showing this on-screen might have presented serious makeup challenges.
  • The story of the fate of René Azaire is brushed over in the television version. There is actually a twinge of nobility in the way he leaves the story. (See the synopsis later in this post for details.)
  • The overconfidence of Stephen’s superiors after the pre-assault bombardment, the confidence that the bombardment will have Germans coming out trying to surrender, is directly from the book. In fact, Stephen’s actions during this assault are largely consistent with the story told in the book.
  • There is a scene in the book when a horribly wounded soldier begs Stephen to kill him, as in the television production. In the book, Stephen steps on the poor man, partially buried in a trench, and in even grislier circumstances than in the television production. Stephen also kills the soldier in the book, an apparent act of mercy.
  • The final sequence of events in the tunnels toward the end of the war, when Stephen is at a listening post, is very close to events depicted in the book. Stephen is trapped in the tunnel with Jack Firebrace. In the book, they are trapped for days, with diminishing air pockets and a sense that they are doomed. Jack Firebrace has broken both his legs, and dies in the tunnel before it Stephen gets out—this is also in the book. There is one fairly significant variation. When Stephen sets off the charge in an attempt to break free, he kills some Germans nearby. The brother of one of those Germans helps dig him out. But, as in the television production, the war is virtually over, and the Germans embrace Stephen before letting him return to his own lines. 

“Birdsong” the television two-part miniseries adopts the main tone of the book. The war is the real enemy. The war diminishes Stephen. Contentiousness between enemies, between the English and the Germans, and the French and the Germans, seems minimal compared to the adversity created for the main characters by the war itself. I will add, however, that in the book, Stephen is hostile to Germans in his interior character passages. This finally fades at the end when the Germans rescue him and allow him to return to his unit. I am left to wonder whether or not the people living during that era held such magnanimity toward their enemies.

Birdsong synopsis (prepared before watching the mini-series):

Note: This synopsis summarizes the novel, but does not capture the atmosphere conveyed by Sebastian Faulks, and in the interests of time and space, leaves out all but the key events in the book, and key characters. Readers should NOT consider this to be anything but a reminder of the basic outline of the plot, and should not substitute this synopsis for the experience of reading Birdsong.

Part One – France 1910
Twenty year-old Stephen Wraysford visits France from England to learn the textile business in France. He stays with the Azaire family. They have two childre n, a young boy Gregoire and a sixteen-year-old daughter Lisette. But Stephen is attracted to Madame Isabele Azaire, about ten years older than he is, but considerably younger than Monsieur René Azaire. Madame Azaire is a younger daughter married by her family to Monsieur Azaire after his wife’s untimely death. Her parents are aloof; her older sister Jeanne is the closest to her from her immediate family. The Azaire marriage appears to be passionless, but Madame Azaire seems to accept her role, and offers little obvious encouragement to Stephen that she might return his infatuation, though Stephen suspects she does.

Stephen Wraysford witnesses labor strife, and himself becomes a target of some nationalistic hostility as tensions rise between Monsieur Azaire and his employees as a result of his reductions of compensation for them. Wraysford gets into an altercation with one of the laborers and injures his hand. Monsieur Azaire asks him to stay away from the production facility for a week. While staying at the Azaire house during working hours, Stephen makes his move toward Isabelle. After a little resistance, she gives into her own infatuation with Stephen and they start a passionate affair. We find out that René Azaire is largely impotent and unable to do much sexually with Isabelle. He strikes her out of frustration. (Stephen has heard the sounds of this during his stay.) We also find out Stephen Wraysford is from very humble origins, largely abandoned by his parents, but taken in by a benefactor who sees to his education and helps get him his opportunities. They carry out their affair in secret, using various stealthy schemes to find private time. No one suspects except Lisette, who during a family fishing trip that includes Stephen tells him what she knows and tries to get Stephen to do the same things with her that he does with Isabelle. Lisette has apparently developed feelings for Stephen and is a lot more adult at seventeen than anyone realizes.

The labor dispute finally comes to an end. Monsieur Azaire is pleased, but then confronts his wife with rumors she aided the strikers’ families with food. (Stephen has known about this activity.) She admits this. He then confronts her with the rumor that she has been unfaithful to him with a key labor leader, “little” Lucien Lebrun. Isabelle Azaire admits there has been an affair—with Stephen. Isabelle and Stephen leave the household and move fromAmiensto St.- Rèmy-de-Provence (a long distance away). Stephen gets a job as an assistant to a furniture maker. They live together in what seems to be a quiet tranquility. But Isabelle seems unsettled, maybe feeling guilty about what her actions have done to her family. She corresponds with her sister Jeanne. Her period stops and she believes she is pregnant. She almost loses the baby, but appears to pass through that crisis. At the end of this section, she leaves Stephen. Stephen believes: “She had returned because she felt she could save her soul. She had gone home because she was frightened of the future and felt sure a natural order could yet be resumed.” Stephen does not seem inclined to pursue her.

Part Two – France 1916
Stephen Wraysford serves as a lieutenant in the British army in a unit on the front lines of the trenches of World War I in France. He serves with tunnellers, men experienced with mining who dig tunnels under the trenches attempting to gain advantages on the battlefield. The Germans have their own tunnellers, and the tunnels sometimes cross. The section starts with Jack Firebrace, one of those tunnellers. He falls asleep on sentry duty, and fears he will be shot. He is brought before Wraysford who takes no action. Jack Firebrace is grateful for the reprieve.

We find out Stephen Wraysford has no new information about Isabelle Azaire. He did not decide to pursue her. He describes his loss of her as if “someone had died.” He also describes his move to Paris a year after Isabelle leaves, and his friendship with an eighteen-year-old girl, Mathilde. When the war breaks out, Stephen decides to join the British army to fight alongside Englishmen.

Stephen leads a fight in the tunnels. Stephen gets hit with an explosion that feels as if he has been “hit by a falling house.” His wounds, not severe on their own, result in a fever, and he is placed with corpses, given up for dead. Jack Firebrace spots him in a “row of dumped flesh” and extricates Stephen Wraysford who sees Firebrace and says “get me out.”

Wraysford recovers, and though he is offered the option of going home, he chooses to stay with his unit. Jack Firebrace gets word that his eight year old son back home has died from diphtheria. The Army prepares for a huge offensive against the Germans, an offensive that is supposed to end the war. The commanders are certain a huge bombardment, as well as a tunnel that will be exploded, will end German resistance before the attack. But the Germans seem barely phased, and the exploded tunnel simply opens up another battlefield obstacle. Soldiers are mowed down as the offensive seems nearly suicidal. Stephen Wraysford goes down—“some force had blown down.” He ends up in a shell-hole, then stands to walk again. He sees the German wire ahead that should have been cut by the bombardment but hasn’t been. Wraysford goes through a gap and ends up in an empty trench. Stephen and others who have advanced this far suspect they will be trapped when the counterattack occurs. Stephen kills a wounded soldier he steps on in the trench, after the soldier begs to be put out of his misery. Jack Firebrace looks on in horror at the slaughter, wondering if it can go on. In the confusion of the continued fighting, including grisly events of death and mutilation, Stephen races toward a nearby river and ends up carried by the river’s current. He is surrounded by Germans in the water. Stephen ends up on a bridge, then in “the marshy grass.” He is walking toward German lines when “an impact took his head as though a brick thrown at great speed had struck his temple, and he fell to the ground.” The next face he sees is one of the tunnellers he has been fighting with.

With the guns silent, Stephen hears a low sound of continuous moaning. The sound overcomes Michael Weir, one of the leaders of the tunnellers, and Stephen, with emotion.

Part Three – England 1978
Elizabeth Benson, Stephen Wraysford’s granddaughter (we do not learn this right away) becomes interested in researching her grandfather’s story. Elizabeth works for fashion designers in England. She’s the mistress of a man who lives in France, a man who is supposed to leave his wife but never can find the right time. Elizabeth seems to suspect that deep down he never will, and it appears she likes her independence. But also, Elizabeth is thirty-eight, and feels a strong drive to have children. Elizabeth visits a battle memorial were she’s astounded at how many names are listed who were “the lost, the ones they did not find.” She says “my God, nobody told me.” Elizabeth visits her mother were she finds some of Stephen Wraysford’s papers apparently written in Greek. Her mother seems to have kept only a small part of Wraysford’s papers, and also seems uninterested in them. One of her bosses, Bob, tells her the script is Greek, but the words are not Greek. It appears to be some sort of code. Bob agrees to help Elizabeth unravel the coded papers.

Part Four – France 1917
Stephen Wraysford gets reacquainted with Michael Weir, a commander of the tunneling soldiers. Weir has returned from a strange, emotionless leave with his parents inEngland. Stephen Wraysford and Michael Weir are trapped in a tunnel. Weir is disabled with a broken arm. Wraysford helps get him rescued.

Wraysford gets permission to take leave in Amiens, a city he knows well, a city where Isabelle could be. Wraysford goes with a man named Ellis, but tires of the bars were his fellow servicemen are going. He goes to an out of the way bar and runs into Isabelle’s sister, Jeanne. The contact is awkward at first, with Jeanne not pleased by the reunion and its potential to disrupt her family. Eventually, after contacting Isabelle, Jeanne agrees to take Stephen to meet with his pre-World War I lover. He learns she has given birth to a daughter he fathered. She has been disfigured by a shell. Isabelle had gone back with her husband, René, who took her back, and seemed surprisingly repentant himself as opposed to being angry with her, offering to change his ways. But Isabelle is still not happy going back. When Amiens is occupied by the Germans, René Azaire is taken as a hostage and eventually deported to Germany with other prisoners. German officers of the occupation are described as “punctilious and good-humored.” Isabelle falls in love with one of them, Max. Max is attentive to Isabelle’s daughter. Max is now posted elsewhere, but they maintain their contact, and their feelings for each other. Stephen also finds out out Lisette has married Lucien Lebrun. Stephen is satisfied with the update, content that any relationship with Isabelle is over.

When Wraysford returns from leave, he finds out he will be reassigned to a staff job. Colonel Gray remarks that he has looked into Wraysford’s eyes and has seen a “perfect blankness.” Wraysford has seen the same “great void” in Gray’s eyes.

Stephen and Isabelle’s older sister Jeanne begin a correspondence, and a growing mutual affection, though Stephen’s apparent disillusionment, his emptiness of soul, colors the relationship. Stephen goes on leave to England, but seems disconnected from anything there. And people seem disconnected from him—an incident of Stephen buying shirts implies someone sees the emptiness in him, finds him unsettling, and encourages him to move along. He goes back to France early and visits Jeanne in Amiens.

Stephen leads a reconnaissance raid before his new assignment. After nearly getting cut off by a German counterattack, reinforcements push the Germans back and Stephen is able to withdraw safely. He loses more of the soldiers he is familiar with, including Ellis, the man who had gone on leave with him toAmiens. Stephen writes the letter to Ellis’s family, a task he finds difficult, because he finds the action difficult to describe to non-soldiers. He ends up offering “only formal words of condolence.” Stephen gets word Michael Weir has been killed.  He sees Jeanne. She is “worried by his listlessness.”

Part Five – England 1978-79
Elizabeth’s boss Bob tells her he has still not figured out her grandfather’s notebooks. She tries to find living associates of her grandfather during World War I. She finds Colonel Gray, but he is grouchy about the contact, and offers little of use, just that her grandfather was a “strange man.” She makes contact with another man, Brennan, whom she visits more than once. She gets little real information from, but feels compassion for Brennan’s apparent sacrifice of his life as a result of World War I. Elizabeth’s mother finds twenty more of her grandfather’s notebooks. Elizabeth, preoccupied with research for information about her grandfather, forgets about what she thought of as a casual date with an associate from her work. He ends up making an awkward marriage proposal, which she turns down. Elizabeth then that discovers she’s pregnant. She tells her lover, who reacts tepidly, but says he is happy—for her. Bob, her boss, now has decoded Elizabeth’s grandfather’s notebooks. They offer a detailed journal of his World War I experience. She reads and begins to absorb what her grandfather went through.

Part Six – France 1918
Stephen is set to go back into the lines for another operation. He visits Jeanne before he goes. He finds out Isabelle has moved to Germany to join Max, who has been terribly wounded. It appears she will stay there for good. Jeanne and Stephen become intimate, though Stephen still seems distant, disconnected, disillusioned—and calls out Isabelle’s name as they embrace.

Stephen goes on the operation, another one in a tunnel. They go to a listening post and realize too late there is a German tunnel right near them. As they hear Germans running, Stephen realizes the Germans are about to blow their tunnel. The explosion closes off the tunnel, trapping and burying the men. Stephen is aware of only himself and badly injured Jack Firebrace (two broken legs) as possible survivors. They are trapped in the tunnel for days, trying to find a way out, and more and more certain they will not be able to. Stephen considers using his revolver to end his ordeal more quickly. He finds some explosives and tries to blow a hole in the tunnel to free them. Without knowing it, he kills some Germans in the vicinity. Jack Firebrace dies before rescue, but Stephen is eventually rescued by one of the dead German’s brothers. Though his rescuer knows Stephen was likely responsible for his brother’s death, he makes no issue of it, and the men embrace at Stephen’s rescue. Stephen leaves to join his battalion after helping with a joint grave for Jack Firebrace and his rescuer’s brother. The war ends, but Stephen Wraysford finds that “nothing could check the low exultation of his soul.”

Part Seven – England 1979
Elizabeth’s mother takes her pregnancy well, surprising Elizabeth. After all her mother says, her parents weren’t married either. Elizabeth discovers, almost casually from her mother, that the woman she knew her whole life as “Grand-mère Jeanne” was not her mother’s blood mother. Elizabeth had suspected something was wrong because the age numbers did not tally. Elizabeth’s mother was the daughter of Stephen Wraysford and Isabelle Azaire. Jeanne had adopted her and moved to England with Stephen where they married. Isabelle had been killed by the flu epidemic right after the war, and Max was in no position to care for a little girl he was not even related to. The book ends with Elizabeth’s baby coming a few days early, with her giving birth to her new son John—her lover Robert assists with the birth.

Books-Into-Film Commentary – Birdsong (Part One) April 25, 2012

Posted by rwf1954 in Birdsong, books, books compared to film, books compared to television, films based on books, historical fiction, movies based on books, Sebastian Faulks, television based on books, television commentary, World War I.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

(Richard Warren Field wrote the award-winning novel,
The Swords of Faith. Read why this book will make a great movie.)

Birdsong is Sebastian Faulks’ novel set during World War I. It is being offered as a two-part mini-series on “Masterpiece Theatre.” This struck me as an obvious opportunity for another “Books-into-Movies/Books-into-Film/Books-into-Television” post(s) here at my blog. With this post, I’ll address Part One, broadcast locally for me in southern California the evening of April 22nd. I’ll post on Part Two in a week, and offer a synopsis of the novel in that second post.

The basic tone and shape of the novel Birdsong is still recognizable in the miniseries “Birdsong,” but the story is presented with major conceptual adjustments, leading to many divergences between the book and the miniseries, at least at the halfway point. The two big conceptual changes?

  • The focus of the miniseries has been entirely on Part One, set in 1910, and Part Two set in 1916. These two parts make up just under half of the novel Birdsong, a seven part novel. And we are not near to the resolution points of Part One and Part Two of the novel. There has been no hint at all that the miniseries will include the 1970s parts of the novel involving Stephen Wraysford’s granddaughter, Elizabeth Benson.
  • The miniseries moves back and forth constantly between 1910 and 1916. The novel tells the 1910 story in an unbroken flow, then moves on to 1916 after the resolution of the events of 1910. Faulks uses flash-forward/flashbacks, but this is after much longer story sections, and runs between the 1910s and the 1970s.

These divergences allow the filmmakers to build the Part One/1910 and Part Two/1916 stories in parallel, simultaneously taking us to cliffhanger points in both stories at the end of Part One of the miniseries. We have Stephen Wraysford taking René Azaire’s wife away from him in 1910, with all the uncertainty that implies. And we have Stephen Wraysford found among corpses in 1916.

The filmmakers’ choice to approach the story this way has led to many discrepancies between the novel and the miniseries, some dictated by the changes in approach, and some changes less essential, selected for other aesthetic/creative reasons. Here is a list of observations of where the novel has been followed, and where it has not been followed:

  • The tunneling under enemy lines, under the trenches, is a key element of the novel Birdsong (as it is in the miniseries).
  • The novel starts in 1910. The miniseries starts with the quick look at World War I in 1916, then flashes back and forth from there.
  • Bérard’s obnoxious singing is directly from the book.
  • Stephen Wraysford hearing crying or pleading and walking to investigate, then hiding when René Azaire emerges from his bedroom and asks that if anyone is there, is directly from the book. Stephen also confronts Isabelle Azaire about what he has heard, and she shuts down his inquiry, asking him to respect her position.
  • The book depicts a lot more of the activities at the René Azaire textile production facility, including the issues of the labor strife.
  • Stephen Wraysford does see Isabel Azaire delivering food to children of laborers as in the book (and she offers Stephen her explanation).
  • The way Stephen and Isabelle come together is different in the book. Stephen gets involved in an altercation as a result of the labor unrest. He injures his hand. René Azaire suggests he stay away from the production facility, at the Azaire home, for a week. Stephen himself has become an issue for Azaire’s labor force, because he is from England. During that period, Stephen and Isabelle become intimate.
  • Stephen Wraysford uses cards, and rat guts, to predict the future of fellow soldiers in the novel.
  • Jeanne, Isabelle’s older sister, does not appear until later in the novel. She is mentioned early in the narrative, but does not participate in any 1910 scenes. There is no scene in the novel where Stephen mistakes Jeanne for Isabelle at the piano.
  • Stephen Wraysford is wounded during action in a tunnel, and mistaken for dead. He is put with the corpses, but this is not interspersed with scenes of Isabelle leaving René in the novel as it is in the miniseries.
  • Isabelle is more circumspect and careful in the novel, with elaborate precautions to hide their affair from everyone. Lisette does discover the affair, and does ask Stephen to do the same things with her that he’s doing with Isabelle, as in the miniseries. But Lisette’s discovery of the affair seems less likely in the book, and more surprising, with all the precautions taken by Isabelle.
  • And, Lisette’s actions do not trigger the breakup. The breakup in the novel occurs after the labor dispute is resolved, and René confronts Isabelle about rumors of her taking food to the families of workers—and rumors she has had an affair with one of the labor leaders. She admits to an affair—with Stephen.
  • “Forgive me,” followed by “I do forgive you as I ask you to forgive me” is directly from the novel. Stephen and Isabelle leave, as they are preparing to do at the end of Part One of the miniseries.

*******

So Part One of the miniseries “Birdsong” leaves us with a double cliffhanger, at key dramatic points in Part One/1910 and Part Two/1916 of the novel. At this point, it does not appear to me the miniseries will address the 1970s storyline from the novel at all. There is still a significant amount of story in both Part One and Part Two, as well as in the rest of Birdsong. It will be interesting to see what the filmmakers choose to dramatize, and what they choose to leave out. It is clear to me they will have to leave out something.

At the end of my post next week, I will offer a synopsis of the novel, and readers of these blog posts have another way to compare the basic storyline of the book with the basic storyline of the miniseries. However, even that synopsis leaves out much of the detail in the novel, and at this point, the novel would still offer people interested in this story some surprises even if they have seen the miniseries. So we will pick up with Stephen on the run with Isabelle in 1910, and Stephen emerging from the dead in 1916, next week.

Book Commentary/Review – Conqueror: A Novel of Kublai Khan by Conn Iggulden February 25, 2012

Posted by rwf1954 in book review, books, Conn Iggulden, Conqueror: A Novel of Kublai Khan, historical fiction, Hulegu Khan, Mongols.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Conqueror is the final novel of Conn Iggulden’s series about the Genghis Khan dynasty. As with the previous eight novels of the series, Iggulden delivers an energizing combination of history and entertainment as he takes us to the apex of Mongol domination of a huge portion of Eurasia during the 13th century. The title tells us the focus will be on Kublai as opposed to other members of the third generation of the Genghis Khan dynasty, and Kublai Khan definitely emerges as the protagonist in this book. But there is more to this book than the story of Kublai Khan.

Conqueror breaks out neatly into three parts, two succession controversies surrounding Kublai Khan’s fight against the Sung Dynasty in China. The first succession controversy involves Kublai Khan’s brother Mongke against his cousin Guyuk. Kublai is not the unambiguous protagonist at this point. He is the scholarly Genghis Khan grandson, under Chinese influence, with appreciation for cities and advanced civilization not within the understanding of his grandfather, and not shared by many in the ruling elite of his family. He seems a very unlikely warrior, or future Great Khan. His mother, Sorhatani, one of the truly remarkable women of the Middle Ages (Iggulden comments in his historical note at the end that she merits a book of her own—I would love to read that book), works in the background of events to involve the future Kublai Khan in a huge personal risk on behalf of his brother Mongke. He completes his arduous task, essential to the resolution of this succession conflict.

The second involves Kublai the scholar transitioning to Kublai the warrior. The new Great Khan undertakes unfinished business for the Genghis Khan dynasty. After all, they’re supposed to conquer the world. “All lands belong to us.” Kublai is sent to China to complete the conquest of millions of Chinese. At first, he seems uneasy in the role. He is tolerated by the generals assigned to him, but they show little apparent respect for the young man perceived as bookish, barely even Mongol. Through battles against larger armies, through adverse conditions, Kublai gradually earns the respect of his generals. But on the verge of victory over the Sung, news comes that the new Great Khan has died. Kublai declares himself Great Khan while on Chinese soil, believing he is next in line to be Great Khan, but not wanting to leave China on the verge of defeating the Sung. What Kublai does not know is that his brother Arik-Boke, in charge of the area around the Mongol capital, has declared himself Great Khan. This triggers a new succession battle, one Kublai is right in the middle of as the unambiguous protagonist.

The third part involves Kublai’s battle with Arik-Boke for the Great Khan position. Odds appear to be against Kublai. He has to return from China to take on a larger army. Kublai’s development as a warrior will be tested, but there’s no doubt that the Kublai returning home from China is a different person, still with the scholarly influence, but submerged within the warrior legacy of the Genghis Khan dynasty. Kublai the scholar becomes Kublai Khan at the end of this conflict, with a satisfying resolution to the conflict after a few suspense points.

Conn Iggulden has a talent for telling epic tales, for taking history and energizing it into compelling stories populated by characters we care about. This series-ending book maintains the quality of all the Genghis Khan novels.

*******

Personal Note: As I mentioned, this is Kublai Khan’s novel. Hulegu Khan, Genghis Khan’s grandson who becomes “Il-Khan” of the area around what is now Iran, is a supporting player with a minor role. Conqueror summarizes Hulegu’s activities during this period to simplify the story, focused on Kublai. Iggulden mentions Hulegu’s defeat by Muslims in the Middle East, the defeat of Hulegu’s Christian general. In my upcoming novel, The Sultan and the Khan, I tell the story of that conflict with the focus on Hulegu, his Christian general, and Baybars, the “mamluk”/slave-soldier who will later become a key sultan in the emerging Mamuk Dynasty, a dynasty that would rule huge areas of the Middle East from Egypt for over two hundred years. Christianity mixes in this conflict in strange and exotic ways as is dramatized throughout the story. The Sultan and the Khan involves a fictional Christian adventurer from Baghdad and a fictional Muslim scholar who confronts the changing circumstances at a nearly apocalyptic time for his faith and the world he has known. Anyone interested in The Sultan and the Khan should keep in touch—The Sultan and the Khan is completed and details will be provided about its availability as they develop.

2012 – Personal Notes: What I’m Offering This Year at this Blog, and Elsewhere January 1, 2012

Posted by rwf1954 in Ayn Jalut, Baybars, books compared to movies, books into movies, fusion jazz, historical fiction, Hulegu Khan, Issa, Issa Legend, Mamluks, medieval period, Middle Ages, Mongols, movies based on books, mystic jazz, Richard the Lionheart, Richard Warren Field, Saladin, the crusades, The Swords of Faith, third crusade, writers.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

What to Expect at this Blog Over the Coming Year

  • Two continuing series: (1) The 820th anniversary posts commenting on key moments in the Third Crusade (the confrontation between Richard the Lionheart and Saladin during the late Twelfth Century) will continue up to October of this year when the series will end with a post commemorating the 820th anniversary of the end of the Third Crusade. Of course, this series springs from The Swords of Faith, my award-winning novel that tells the story of this event through the eyes of Richard the Lionheart, Saladin, and two fictional characters. (2) At the first of every month, I’ll offer a full-length selection from my Issa Music CD, just released this week. The music was inspired by the “Legend of Issa,” the story of Jesus making a journey to India while forming his spiritual vision. If true, this suggests a spiritual connection between East and West that goes back two thousand years. The music celebrates the idea of East blending harmoniously with West.
  • Books-Into-Movies will continue; these posts are among the most popular at my blog resulting in thousands of blog visits. I’ll look for films with a historical or big-themed angle based on a novel or non-fiction book (not a novelized movie). I’ll reach back for more classics, as I did last year with “Ben Hur.”
  • Music: Given my recent rediscovery of a passionate love for creating and playing music, I will continue offering comments on music at this blog. Some posts will discuss the poetry of lyrics like the posts about Jimi Hendrix and Yes selections. But I will expand this to comment on other musical topics. Expect some surprises here, one or two coming up soon! One topic I’ll explore will be the nature of music itself, and why humans seem almost universally to connect with it. I will be consulting help on that topic—I will comment on books addressing this subject from numerous different angles.
  • I will continue posting about physics and metaphysics as I did on August 30, 2011 and October 7, 2011.  The next post will refer to some recent reading so my reflections on this esoteric and intensely complex topic do not seem to come out of thin air!
  • And I expect to come out with some posts on completely new topics. The world is supposed to come to an end this December. I expect to survive this event and post the day after the end of the world. I look forward to many visits and comments from others who have also survived that day! We also do have an election coming up later this year in the United States. I may wade into those treacherous waters. I’ve been there before—just take a look at my Internet Column and my 1997 novel, The Election. Don’t expect me to follow any conventional approach, “left” or “right.” That’s what’s great about blogging… I’m free to set my own rules! 

*******

What to Expect from Me Creatively this Year

  • I have completed writing and revising (for now) The Sultan and Khan, my novel about one of the most neglected battles in world history, the battle between the Muslim Mamluks and the Mongol dynasty in September of 1260. I will work toward an announcement of when and where The Sultan and Khan will be available as details develop.
  • I’ll begin reading and research for the third novel of The Swords of Faith trilogy, The Ghosts of Baghdad. (I expect that to lead to some interesting blog posts.)
  • Look for news of some music performances this coming year as time permits me to schedule them.
  • I plan to produce a Christmas CD. I had been working on it when the end of the year caught up to me! But I have warned my family to expect to hear Christmas music during January and February as I build on the momentum I have developed late during 2011 and start building some tracks. 

*******

Happy New Year to everyone. May 2012 be a year of joy and fulfillment, a year of great expectations realized, of love experienced and shared for all. 

Previous “Personal Notes” Posts:

Other

Books-Into-Movie Commentary – “Hugo” (based on the book, THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET) December 5, 2011

Posted by rwf1954 in books, books into movies, Brian Selznick, Georges Melies, historical fiction, Hugo, Martin Scorcese, movie commentary, movies, movies based on books, The Invention of Hugo Cabret.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
3 comments

(Richard Warren Field wrote the award-winning novel,
The Swords of Faith. Read why this book will make a great movie.)

“Hugo”—movie release date November 23, 2011—is based on the historical novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a “graphic novel,” a thick book of over 500 pages but because of the many images and the large print, actually contains a simple story that reads quickly. The filmmakers of “Hugo” made considerable changes and a significant addition, though the basic story of Hugo Cabret, his discovery of a “broken” elderly man, and Hugo’s “fixing” of that man, remains. I’ll start this post with a general discussion, including a discussion of the big changes, and then list other differences of note. 

“Hugo” starts out with images of trains, clocks and Paris, letting the audience know immediately what this movie will be about, and where these events will occur. This is absolutely faithful to the book. The movie takes us through the passages in the train station, the nooks and crannies Hugo navigates through, and the mechanics of the clockwork absolutely as depicted in the book. With so many visuals provided in the book, we can imagine this was not easy. But readers of the book will feel the movie has been completely faithful to the book’s visual feel.

There are many changes in the way Hugo and Isabelle interact in the movie:

  • In the book, Hugo sees Isabelle assisting Papa Georges at the toy shop from the beginning. The details of how the interaction begins are different. Isabelle in the movie is much more gregarious and forward.
  • In the movie, there’s much more information about Georges conveyed to Hugo by Isabelle during their early interaction. This allows story exposition to be presented to the audience that is delivered in narrative in the book.
  • In the book, Hugo and Isabelle get help from an adult friend to sneak into the movies. In the movie, they do it themselves (with Hugo picking a lock).
  • Hugo confides in Isabelle a lot more in the movie—this is the most effective way to communicate the backstory for this mysterious boy living alone in a train station.
  • Isabelle does not get trampled in the book as she does in the movie (though Hugo and Isabelle do chase after each other at one point, each trying to get the other to reveal their secrets).
  • There is no interplay of Hugo and Isabelle using large vocabulary words in the book.
  • In the movie, Hugo convinces Isabelle to let him use the key to start the automaton. In the book, Hugo steals the key from Isabelle.
  • In the book, both Hugo and Isabelle are injured. Hugo’s hand is slammed in a door, and Isabelle sprains her ankle when pulling the papers out of the compartment in the armoire. There are no injuries in the movie.

The filmmakers expanded the stationmaster’s/Station Inspector’s role in the movie significantly. In the book, he is a potential looming threat, but only materializes as a living, breathing threat at the end. In the film, he is a present threat from the beginning, Hugo’s main antagonist. He seems to be offered for comic relief, allowing opportunities for slapstick (not in the book), and with his own damaged parts, consistent with the theme of the movie. There is no subplot romance with a flower girl in the book, nor interplay with a policeman as the stationmaster sends a captured boy to the orphanage.

  • The book does not include an initial chase scene with the stationmaster running after Hugo in the train station. (Did anyone else want to see that cake splattered all over the station? They broke a cello instead, not something a musician like myself wants to see!)
  • We never find out the stationmaster was an orphan in the book.

There are no dogs in the book—no dog to help the stationmaster try to apprehend Hugo, and no dog to bother an elderly man until he brings a romantic doggy partner.

Other comments:

  • Georges saying “ghosts” when he first takes Hugo’s notebook, and seeming very emotional about the notebook is straight from the book (and played brilliantly by Ben Kingsley, a difficult role trying to make a gruff and initially cruel old man appear sympathetic).
  • Hugo’s work on the clocks, his ability to maintain them so well that no one notices his uncle is gone, is straight from the book, and is visually striking in its faithfulness to the book.
  • A flashback to the story of Hugo’s father, including his death in a fire and Hugo’s uncle bringing him to the train station is straight from the book.
  • Georges handing Hugo ashes and saying he burned the notebook—straight from the book.
  • Hugo’s father’s favorite film, the film that ends with a rocket in the eye of “the man in the moon,” is consistent with the book as well.
  • The automaton come-to-life scene is the same in the movie as in the book, including the initial doodles that appear meaningless, followed by the image of “the man in the moon” signed by filmmaker Georges Méliès.
  • The book certainly intends to pay homage to George Méliès. The movie expands this to include many film clips and additional information about Méliès not included in the book (and more effectively offered in a film).
  • There is a discussion of a train crashing into the station in the book. In the movie, this is vividly depicted as part of a dream Hugo has. (This was too tempting as a stunning image not to find its way into a 3D movie that focuses so much on striking imagery.)
  • The movie has police informing the stationmaster about the death of Hugo’s uncle. This leads to the stationmaster looking to remove Hugo’s uncle’s belongings from his apartment, a source of dramatic tension toward the end of the movie. In the book, the dead uncle is not identified right away.
  • The surprise visit of the film expert is from the book though the sequence of events is slightly different, and Méliès’ wife has a much larger role in the movie.
  • The final chase scene is largely from the book, including George Méliès’ rescue of Hugo from the stationmaster except for-
    • The dog.
    • Hugo hanging from the clock (though he does hide in his room to obscure himself from the stationmaster during the chase).
    • The stationmaster, watched by the flower girl, softening as he releases Hugo.
  • The ending is different. In the book, we are aware at the beginning that the story is being told by Professor Alcofrisbas. At the end, we find out this is Hugo, transformed into Professor Alcofrisbas after an apprenticeship with Georges Méliès. He is now a master magician. In the movie, we end with Isabelle indicating she will write the story of Hugo.

*******

 Synopsis of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, written by Brian Selznick, published in 2007:

Part One
1 – The Thief
We meet Hugo Cabret, a mysterious young boy living in the rafters of a train station, intimately familiar with every passage, every vent, every opening in and around the station, particularly around the clocks in the station. He steals to eat, and steals toys from a stand run by a grumpy elderly man. A girl about Hugo’s age assists at the store. The old man catches Hugo stealing. He makes Hugo empty his pockets, and takes Hugo’s notebook. Hugo’s notebook is precious to him. The old man seems inexplicably demanding about what is in the notebook, and Hugo will not tell him, guarding the secrets of the notebook. The old man tells Hugo never to return to the toy stand, and that he will burn the notebook. Hugo runs away before the old man can turn him in to the station inspector. The old man calls Hugo a thief. Hugo retorts that the old man is the thief.

2 – The Clocks
We find out Hugo keeps the twenty-seven clocks at the station maintained. It is a job he has been doing under the supervision of his alcoholic uncle who has disappeared, leaving Hugo alone. Hugo is good at keeping the clocks going. No one seems to know Hugo’s uncle has gone.

3 – Snowfall
Hugo has another encounter with the old man at the toy stand. The man refuses to give Hugo his notebook. We also learn the old man seems unusually sensitive to the sound of shoes clicking against the floor.

4 – The Window
Hugo goes to the old man’s home and meets the girl who helps at the stand. Hugo asks her to help him get the notebook back before the old man burns it. She promises to make sure he won’t burn the notebook, and convinces him to leave.

5 – Hugo’s Father
We learn about Hugo’s father and the secret of Hugo’s notebook. Hugo’s father worked at the museum. He found an automaton, a mechanical man engineered like a complex clock. Hugo’s father worked constantly to get the automaton to work. The notebook is Hugo’s father’s drawings of the automaton. But his father perishes in a fire at the museum one night where he was working on the automaton. Hugo feels guilty because he pushed his father to work on the automaton. And he feels the automaton, which is poised to write, will deliver a message from his deceased father. Hugo manages to take the damaged but not destroyed automaton from the unguarded, burned museum. This is why the notebook is so important—Hugo wants to complete repairs on the automaton.

6 – Ashes
The old man hands Hugo a handkerchief full of ashes. Hugo is despondent that the old man has destroyed the notebook, and his chances to repair the automaton. But he receives a note to meet him at the bookseller—his notebook has not been burned.

7 – Secrets
The girl who helps at the toy store says the old man did not burn the notebook. Hugo goes to the toy shop and demands the notebook. The old man refuses to confirm it is available and tells Hugo he needs to work to make up for what he has stolen.

8 – Cards
As Hugo works, the old man plays cards, astounding Hugo with his abilities handling the cards. He meets the girl, Isabelle, at the bookstore. She promises to look for his notebook, as she lives with the old man. He meets Etienne, a young man who promises to sneak them into the movies. When Hugo sees a book about magic and tries to steal it, Etienne catches him and gives him money to buy the book.

9 – The Key
Hugo makes progress on the automaton without the notebook. As he repairs toys for the old man, he finds parts at the toy store that fit the automaton. Hugo enjoys the movies with Isabelle, but the manager at the theater catches them and throws them out. Hugo returns to the station and sees the station inspector looking at one of the clocks, taking notes. He is afraid his situation has been discovered. Isabelle wants to know why he runs, but Hugo will not tell her.  He runs from Isabelle and she chases him. She falls. Hugo sees a key around her neck. He asks her where she got it. She refuses to say and runs—now he chases her. They part without disclosing their secrets.

10 – The Notebook
When Hugo gets to the toy shop to work the next day, the old man accuses him a breaking into his home to steal the notebook. Hugo discovers Isabelle has found the notebook. He hugs her, then runs.

11 – Stolen Goods
Hugo has lifted the key from Isabelle. It will fit into the automaton.

12 – The Message
Isabel finds Hugo just as he is about to activate the automaton in his small quarters at the train station. He is upset she has found him, but wants to activate the automaton. The automaton makes what appear to be unrelated, random marks at first. But the image it completes is an image from an old movie, “The Man in the Moon” with a small rocket sticking in his eye. This image is from Hugo’s father’s favorite movie. Part One ends here, with the words “but another story begins, because stories lead to other stories, and this one leads all the way to the moon.”

Part Two
1 – The Signature
The automaton signs a name, Georges Méliès. Isabel realizes this is the old man’s name, her godfather whom she calls “Papa Georges.” Hugo wants to know more and follows Isabelle back to their home. Isabelle wants to get home and does not want to tell him any more. When Hugo tries to follow her through the door, she slams the door on his hand. We learn Isabelle stole the key from her godmother. Her godmother is angry because she hid the key to “protect my husband.”

2 – The Armoire
Mama Jeanne, Isabelle’s godmother, looks toward an armoire as she asks the children to hide so Papa Georges will not find out Hugo is in their home. When she leaves the room, Isabelle pulls a box out of the armoire from a secret section. The chair she is standing on to get to the box breaks and the box falls, spilling out hundreds of papers filled with drawings of striking fantasy images. Isabelle injures her ankle.

3 – The Plan
Hugo returns to his home, his room in the station, and hides the automaton. His hand is injured, but he goes to the bookstore the next morning after deciding to find out about old movies. He is referred to the Film Academy library.

4 – The Invention of Dreams
Hugo takes the metro to the Film Academy library. The librarian is not going to let him in, but Etienne is there, and does let him in. He finds out that the image drawn by the automaton, from his late father’s favorite movie, was created by filmmaker Georges Méliès. Etienne tells Hugo Méliès is dead. Hugo tells Etienne he is not dead—he is Isabelle’s godfather.

 5 – Papa Georges Made Movies
Isabelle comes to Hugo’s room. Hugo tells Isabelle about her godfather, and that he has invited Etienne and another person to Papa George’s home the following week. But Papa Georges is sick. Mama Jeanne is unlikely to allow the visit.

6 – Purpose
Isabelle and Hugo talk about how all machines are made for a purpose, and that maybe they can “fix” Papa Georges. They go up into the station rafters for a night view ofParis. But Hugo’s hand is too injured for him to continue maintaining the clocks at the station.

7 – The Visit
The clocks are starting to show different times. The station inspector leaves Hugo’s disappeared uncle a note. Etienne and his colleague arrive at the home of Georges Méliès. Neither Papa Georges nor Mama Jeanne know they are coming. This section ends with Georges hearing them, taking a projector from Etienne, and closing the door to his room, locking the door behind him.

8 – Opening the Door
Isabelle picks the lock to Georges’ room. Georges tells Isabelle her father had made movies with him before he died. Georges explains his early career, and how after World War I he was no longer competitive and had to sell his films and leave the business. He explains he had donated the automaton to the museum, and thought it had been lost. But Hugo tells him he has the automaton in his room at the station. He promises to go get it and bring it back.

 9 – The Ghost in the Station
When Hugo returns to the station, the station inspector takes custody of him. Hugo breaks loose of his hold and runs through the station, through the spaces and passageways around it. The station inspector catches up to him and with help, takes him into custody again. “The only place you’re going is to prison.” They lock Hugo in a cage.

10 – A Train Arrives in the Station
When the police come, and the cage door opens, Hugo bursts through the police and runs through the station. He runs through crowd, and gets knocked into the path of a train. At the last minute, Hugo is yanked out of the path of the train. The station inspector has him again. Hugo blacks out. When he wakes, Georges Méliès is there. He has come because Hugo had been gone too long to get the automaton. Georges explains matters to the station inspector, and Hugo is freed.

Six Months Later
11 – The Magician
Hugo attends a tribute to Papa Georges at theFilmAcademy. After the film tribute, ending with “A Trip to the Moon,” Hugo’s father’s favorite film, Papa Georges tells Hugo he is now “Professor Alcofrisbas,” “a character who appeared in many of my films, sometimes as an explorer, sometimes as an alchemist… But mostly he was a magician…”

12 – Winding It Up
Hugo/Professor Alcofrisbas tells us he is now a successful magician, and has created an automaton that will create the text and images of the book we have just read.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret - Brian Selznick

The Invention of Hugo Cabret - Brian Selznick