When I think about my favorite movie based on a book I equally love, I think The World According to Garp by John Irving.
I was first introduced to this novel in the mid-eighty's when I was just a teen and my sister said, "You have to read this," and gave me her copy. She was right. I suspect I was a little to young to be reading it and wouldn't recommend it for your children, but I was immediately in love - not because it was inappropriate - but because it was brilliant. It had me laughing and crying.
In this novel, John Irving takes the concept of the epic hero to the extreme. The protagonist has all the qualities of a traditional epic hero - Garp was born of uncertain origin (an understatement), goes through a series of trials, and in the end acts like a hero - he stands up for what is right (but not what is traditionally considered to be right) at all costs. At the close of the novel, Garp has a sense of acceptance - or at least that's how I remembered it - maybe I felt the acceptance - not sure.
There is no war in this novel, but it's characters are mutilated worse than the soldiers in the Trojan War. But the story is just the story of a family, a family with dysfunction taken to the extreme. I don't want to give away any details - it's so juicy, you just have to read it. Warning for the socially conservative - it will offend you.
I read the book before I saw the movie. The movie was as good as the book and softened up some of the plot points that might have offended a lot of people.
The casting was brilliant. Robin Williams played Garp. Glen Close was the mother, who wore her traditional nursing uniform long after she stopped being a nurse. Glen Close was perfect - she played a stoic mother who was determined to help a minority group above all else, even her family. John Lithgow was unforgettable in his role as a trans-sexual. The casting for Garp's wife and children were perfect as well.
Unfortunately, I can't insert the movie clips here - if you search this movie on You-Tube, check out one labeled 'scorcher scene.'
This book/novel has impacted the way I view life to a degree. Less than a year after I bought a new SUV, I dented it on a pole when backing out of a too-small spot in a badly designed parking garage. I immediately said, "That's OK. It's disaster-proof now," a paraphrase from this novel/movie. Garp believed that only one disaster could strike - like the concept that lightning doesn't strike the same spot twice.
I meant the words just like Garp did. Unlike Garp, I watched and waited for the next disaster to strike my life and knew that only that one dent on my car was immune from additional destruction and tragedy, especially since I never got it fixed. When people ask why I didn't get my car fixed, I smile and say, "It's disaster-proof." Only my sister gets it.
Once I saw the movie, I read the book again. It's been more than 20 years since I've read it. I'm headed to the bookstore this afternoon to get a fresh copy. My husband said he hated it. Obviously, he's wrong. It's my mission to change his mind.