Thursday, September 6, 2012

"The Ninth Configuration" by William Peter Blatty



Huh. Here's another rarity: I just read a book that a movie was based on, and decided I liked the movie better. Usually I see a movie, then read the book, and like the book better, but still like the movie too. Sometimes I read a book, then see the movie, and generally prefer the book. Not this time.

I saw The Ninth Configuration in a film class in college and liked it right away. It's twisted, it's weird, it's off-beat, it's creepy, and it's very unlike most of the movies I like. But I dug it anyway. In fact, I dug it so much, I actually bought a copy, albeit a used one from a video store that was going out of business.

The story centers around this Vietnam-era batch of soldiers (and one astronaut) who are presumably bonkers (but possibly faking). They're stuck in a funky old castle in the Pacific Northwest. Into their midst comes one Colonel Kane, psychiatrist, all-around sweet guy, and also... no, I can't tell you the rest, it's too wonderful a movie to spoil.

So when I found the book a few months ago at a used book sale, how could I resist? It was written by William Peter Blatty (author of The Exorcist), who also wrote, directed, and produced the movie. I picked it up, hoping I would like it as well as I like the movie.

But I don't.

Oh, it's pretty well-written, and for the most part the movie follows the book very closely. Sometimes it's word-for-word, which is to be expected from a screenplay written by the same guy that wrote the book.

But he changed the ending. And I like the movie ending better. It's not a big change -- essentially the same things happen, except there's a slightly different reasoning going on in the movie, and there's one little thing that I really liked that isn't in the book. So I guess I'll be keeping the movie and passing the book on, as I definitely don't have room in this apartment for books I only sort-of like.

Bummer.

(Originally posted on Inscriptions on Apr. 2, 2008.)

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