April 9, 2003

Apr 09 2003

Mr. Ebert, thank you.

“Disney can do better, will do better, usually does better. To release this film theatrically is a compromise of its traditions and standards. If you have a child in the target age range, keep them at home, rent an animated classic or Miyazaki’s great “My Neighbor Totoro” and do them a favor.

“Roger Ebert’s review of “My Neighbor Totoro” is in his Great Movies series at www.suntimes.com/ebert.

— Roger Ebert’s review of The Jungle Book 2

Yes, I know; there are CGIWrap errors on this site. Brennen‘s taking care of it.

So. Now that I’m reading something like three or four books a week, I thought it’d be good to read a lot of those classics everyone’s supposed to have read but frankly never got assigned in eleventh grade English, and we never went back and read.

So I picked up a copy of Dostoesvky’s The Idiot at the library two weeks ago, and am currently a few dozen pages into it.

I expected it to be dense and impenetrable; it’s the exact opposite. It’s light, funny, and easy to read. My main problem lies in remembering all the tongue-twisting Russian names. However, if I concentrate on just the person’s first name and ignore the rest, I find that I can keep track of the characters pretty well.

The nice thing about the Russian authors is that they take their time, as a friend of mine said. They don’t have to leap from tension to tension, constantly pulling along a panting reader. They can take the simple occasion of one character introducing himself to another and write it as a ten-page scene that reveals innumerable little details about each character and their society.

Which is what The Idiot is all about. The protagonist, Prince Mishkin, is a completely innocent, straightforward young man surrounded by shallow upper-crust men and women. His refreshing simplicity and honesty throws all those behaviors – many of which we’ve become used to – into strong relief, highlighting their spiritual ugliness. You begin to realize just how petty all of this is, and if you look around, you realize how prevalent it is in today’s society too.

It’s very impressive. Of course, I’m still only a few dozen pages into the book, so this can’t be my final opinion. But I’m impressed thus far.

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