Wednesday, July 26, 2006


The Beach was a good movie, almost half as good as the book on which it is based which means that it is an awesome book. It was written by Alex Garland (1996). The book is throughly recommended for those who liked the concept / movie.

Here is an excerpt from the book.

I once read that the most widely understood word in the world is "okay", followed by "coke", as in cola. I think they should do the survey again, this time checking for "Game Over".

Game Over is my favorite thing thing about playing video games. Actually I should qualify that. It's the split second before Game Over thats my favorite thing. Street Fighter Two - an oldie but a goldie - with my friend controlling Ryu. Ryu's his preferred character because he's a good allrounder - great defensive moves, pretty quick and once he's on an offensive roll he's unstoppable. My brother Theo's controlling Blanka. Blanka's faster than Ryu but he's only really good on attack. The way to win with Blanka is to get in the other person's face and never let up. Flying kick, leg sweep, spin attack, head bite. Daze them into submission. Both players are down to the end of their energy bars. One more hit and they're down so they're both being cagey. They're hanging back at the opposite ends of the screen waiting for the other guy to make the first move. Leo takes the initiative and throws off a fireball to force Theo into blocking and then jumps in with a flying kick to knock Banka's green head off. But as he's moving through the air he hears a soft tapping. Theo's tapping the punch button on his control pad. He's charging up an electricity defence. So when Ryu's foot makes contact with Banka's head it's Ryu who gets KO'ed with 10,000 volts charging through his system.

This is the split second before Game Over. Leo's heard the noise. He knows he's fucked. He has time to blurt "I'm toast", before Rye is lit up and thrown backward across the screen, flashing like a Xmas tree, a charred skeleton, Toast.

The split second is the moment you comprehend you're just about to die. Different people react to it in different ways. Some swear and rage. Some sigh or gasp. Some scream. I've heard a lot of screams over the twelve years I've been addicted to video games.

I'm sure that this moment provides a rare insight into the way people react just before they really do die. The game taps into something pure and beyond affectations. As Leo hears the tapping he blurts "I'm toast". He says it quickly, with resignation and understanding. If he were driving down the highway and saw a car spinping into his path I think he'd react the same way. Personally I'm a rager. I fling my joypad across the floor, clench my eyes shut, throw back my head and abuse at anything within abusing distance.
A few years ago I had a game called Alien 3. It had a great feature. When you ran out of lives you'd get a photo-realistic picture of the Alien with saliva dripping from its jaws, and a digitized voice would bleat "Game Over man!".

I really used to love that

I can so connect with this. Video games sometimes do bring out the real us. Almost as much as sports do. I have always been able to make pretty accurate first time judgements about people by their demeanor on the soccer field, tennis / squash courts. The way they react to missing an open goal, someone cheating, opponent playing rough, being on the losing team and other myriad situations. I guess thats because when playing there is not enough time to think and act. You say things because you want to and you do stuff because you want to. There is no analyzing and counter analyzing. You react on instinct and that instinct is you. Some show restraint, some rant and some cuss because thats what comes to them naturally.

Moving on to the differences between the story of the book and the movie.

In the movie, Richard becomes an American and Sal British! Richard does the rice run with Sal in the movie. Sal knows about the map that Richard made and gave the Americans and uses this to blackmail him. In the book, Sal comes to know of the maps existence only towards the end. Richard has an affair with Francoise in the movie where as in the book the relationship is limited to light flirting (How can Francoise choose a Frenchman over Leonardo DiCaprio?! Oh! The horror that would be. So Richard gets to sleep with Francoise). In the movie Richard is blamed for the shark attacks (He kills a baby shark if I remember correctly). Not so in the book.

The endings are different

Movie - the drug lord asks Sal to shoot Richard and she does it except that the gun the drug lord gave her was not loaded. Seeing Sal's attempt to kill Richard the others freak out and they all flee from the island.

Book - the drug lord warns the group about trespassing on his poppy fields and dumps the the bodies of the American duo and the German couple, who the drug lord had killed earlier when he catches them wandering in his fields, in the camp. Everyone loses their senses when they see the dead bodies . They attack Richard who manages to escape from the island with Etienne, Francoise, Jed and Keaty who were anyway planning to leave by boat.

References to Tintin - Daffy has a collection of all except The Blue Lotus which Richard had but in French. Daffy's favourite was Prisoners of the Sun. Richard liked Crab with the Golden Claws or Tintin in Tibet.

Other books by Alex Garland (Haven't read any of them)

The Tesseract (1998)
The Coma (2004)

More Trivia - The song "Pure Shores" (All Saints) was a part of the soundtrack. It was from the album Saints and Sinners. The English / Canadian band had 4 members (3 initially before they split up in 95 and inducted the Appleton sisters). Nicole Appleton was once Robbie Williams lover. She later had Liam Gallagar's (Lead Vocalist, Oasis) baby in 2001. Her sister Natalie Appleton, also a part of the group, married Liam Howlett of The Prodigy (of the Firestarter fame). Quite a music troupe the whole family would make.


yesbob said...

like the "You react on instinct and that instinct is you" part - though nowadays I don't seem to get to do it much ...

good one ..

Kenneth said...

Bob - the downside of "civilization"?