June 25, 2007

Filming The Writers

For your comfort and enjoyment, this Boar column is so much funnier if you can imagine Anne Hathaway with an uzi.

To be honest it’s Charles Dickins I feel sorry for. His biggest mistake was, like JRR Tolkein, to be around when cameras were active, photographing and documenting the world. We know he was essentially the owner of the second most iconic beard of the nineteenth century (Darwin pips him, methinks) and that apart from that he was rather average looking. He’d fit right in with the English department, right down to looking ever so slightly too eccentric and not corporate business type enough for the currently university administration (don’t you just love their tidy up the lecturers campaign?). But he’ll never get his own 12 rated Hollywood biopic. Jane Austen has. It’s out now and stars that girl with the big brown eyes who does that rabbit in headlights routine in most of her films. We have about two sketches of Jane Austen’s likeness and the real Jane doesn’t look like she was caught in any headlights. Nor did Shakespeare look like Joseph Fiennes. But we know that Brad Pitt does not resemble Mr Dickins, so there is little chance of some unnecessarily rain drenched hunk Dickins running through the dirty streets of London to his potential love interest’s house in an attempt to woo her with his new manuscript. “What’s that Charles darling? A tragedy about workhouses, robbery and murder? Oh, you sure know the words to get to a girl’s heart”.

Truth is it will be hard for future generations to cast sexy actors as dowdy authors; these days authors get recognised more than ever. Obviously some cheat, like Jeffery Archer. Actually no one else cheats like Jeffery Archer, his cheating (and lying and perjuring) is in a league of its own, but a lot of big selling authors are getting us used to their face in other media first but pouncing with their literary side. Take all those frustrated Chaucers on the pitch during your average England friendly. How can they be expected to put in demonstration of something so coarse and transitory as a mere football match when they’d much rather be at home penning great odes to the titanic forces which shape and captivate the world? It’s fortunate for them that humanity’s obsession with football means that they are themselves often those titanic forces, although you’d think this would have resulted in some better odes to beating Ecuador then crashing out to Portugal in a feeble penalty shootout than the crop of whingy books which came out last summer. Imagine if they could do it in iambic pentameter – “I played quite bad, we missed our chance, the shame/And now we wave our coach goodbye, again”. I can think of a minimum of five players in the last England world cup squad who seemed completely distracted by the sonnets they were composing in their heads. At least, I’m assuming that’s why they were fannying around on the grass rather than playing well.

You’d never see Andy McNab on the pitch. Actually, you’d never see him anywhere because he likes to keep up his SAS cred by hiding a lot, and doing interviews in shadows. It means it takes slightly longer than your average Google search to find a picture of him on the internet. In the interests of research I was going to try and find one to tell you how long it would take, but I got bored and decided to check the football scores instead. But McNab is a candidate for the treatment Austen and Shakespeare are currently getting because we’re not bored of his face. Casting directors won’t be too bothered about who gets to play him. Hell, Anne ‘rabbit in headlights’ Hathaway could play him in an attempt to get a story of SAS missions and Iraqi torture down to a 12 rating. I reckon she could do it. I’d probably watch then for the pure incongruity.

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