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red riding - The Villages

hutch0
Date: 2009-03-07 01:28
Subject: red riding
Security: Public
Location:home
Mood:calmcalm
Music:the teardrop explodes
Last night saw the first instalment of Channel 4's dramatisation of David Peace's Red Riding Quartet, and strong stuff it was indeed, although necessarily not nearly as strong as the source material. I once told someone that James Ellroy would have trouble following Peace's fiction, and it was always going to be difficult to adapt to the screen - The Damned United is a blamelessly mainstream novel in comparison to this accretion of corruption and despair that casts West Yorkshire as the Heart of Darkness and even the best of its people as powerless against the forces of evil.
Having said that, it wasn't a bad try. There has been an enormous amount of compression and elision, but the series - at least on viewing the first episode - accurately captures the tone of Peace's novels, the sense of an Original Sin which destroys people and careers for decades to come. It wasn't a verbatim adaptation, but I'm not sure that would be possible in a commercial production.
It simplified things enormously, but it did give a sense of ordinary people caught up in events entirely beyond their comprehension, which Peace does better than any other writer I've enountered.
Best things? Sean Bean's property developer based (in my opinion) on John Poulson. Venal, entirely above `ordinary' morality. Brilliant performance. Eddie Marsan's Yorkshire Post journalist, shaded with conflict.
Worst things? Well, this wasn't a problem for me, but I watched it with a Southerner who said he quite often couldn't understand what people were saying. He says he won't be following the rest of the series. But I will. This is dark, intelligent stuff, well-made and well-performed, and it demands that its audience makes an effort, which is rare in today's television climate.
It's interesting that this has come out at the same time as Watchmen, a tale of conflicted superheroes, because the protagonists of Peace's books all set out to Right Wrongs. They all think of themselves as being able to unravel the evil and corruption besetting West Yorkshire, but find themselves in the end entirely unequal to the task, and as the evil gathers pace down the years it takes on a momentum that bulldozes ordinary people.
Extraordinary stuff.
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mylefteye
User: mylefteye
Date: 2009-03-07 09:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I can't really comment on this as I've neither read the books (although my mate is: http://crimesceneni.blogspot.com/2009/03/peace-is-upon-us.html) or saw the TV adaptation. I tried to read David Peace's Tokyo Year Zero last year but had to give up. His idiosyncratic style didn't suit me at all. I'm still intrigued by Damned United though.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-03-10 23:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I do like Peace's stuff, but I agree with you, he doesn't make things easy for the reader. I think The Damned United is his most accessible book, largely because we - at least, people my age - already know Brian Clough and Don Revie and Billy Bremner and so on, and it's easier to keep the characters and the action straight in our heads.
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Gerard Brennan
User: gerardbrennan
Date: 2009-03-10 20:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Hi Dave

I just watched this last night (and read 1974 some months ago), and I think I'm on the same page as you on this one. Very good review.

Cheers

gb
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-03-10 23:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Why thank you. I'm kind of hampered by having read the Red Riding books out of sequence; I saw an article about them in the Guardian when 84 came out, and wound up buying them as and when they turned up in the shops. 1974 was the last one I bought, so I was sort of working backwards towards the Original Sin, as it were, in a state of complete bafflement. I'll have to read them in the right order one day.
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Gerard Brennan
User: gerardbrennan
Date: 2009-03-10 23:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Well I've just read 1977, but I'll have to try and cram in 1980 before I watch the next Red Riding. It looks as if part 2 is based on the third book.

gb
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-03-11 00:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I can't quite work out how they've managed to fillet it down to three episodes - there must be material from all four books, just to make it make sense - but it's a mighty piece of screenwriting all the same. A fortnight ago I would have sworn to you that the books were unfilmable.
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