King’s Pupil

The first thing you should know, I’m not a Stephen King fan, but I feel interested by the fact that many of his novels have been taken to the Big screen, though not always with great success. I’ll overlook the sometimes terrible or unimportant adaptations, and the overrated ones (sorry, but I don’t enjoy “Carrie” very much).
For a great movie tour around King’s novels, let’s mention:

  • Stanley Kubrick. The Shining.- A classical horror movie, with an uncontrolled, histrionic but very effective Jack Nicholson.
  • Rob Reiner. Misery: It gives us the best performance of any character created by King. Kathy Bates does it excellently.
  • David Cronemberg. The Dead Zone.- It’s strange but, being possibly the more commercial title and the less personal Project made by Cronemberg, it´s a great and very entertaining movie.
  • Frank Darabont. The Shawshank Redemption.- The story written by King is rather poor and the premise (what nice convicts!) is more suitable for a monastery than for a prison, but the director’s and actor’s achievement is to have given depth to a typical plot about good and bad guys, going beyond this aspect to underline what is important: Hope.
  • King’s pupil

    Besides the films above, I kept another movie on hold for a special comment: Singer’s “Apt pupil”. This is probably the least known film of the five, but maybe the most terrifying (at least, more than Darabont’s, ha!). It´s not for the frights or the explicit horror (which it doesn´t exist in the movie), but for the sick spirit that stems from it.

    “Apt pupil” is not a film apt for every kind of audience, and I would like to warn you. A superficial lecture of it could bring the conclusion that Evil is power, and that’s not the real message. This difficulty to distinguish the final message is what makes “Apt pupil” a risky film, a really uneasy film.

    Bryan Singer, alter having directed the exceptional “The usual suspects”, tackles here the fascination for Evil (the true dark side of people). Todd, a young man prototype of the “American boy” (nice, smart, intelligent, successful), finds out that an aging neighbour is a former nazi officer called Dussander. Todd’s longing for more knowledge about past war crimes makes him break social rules, and he decides to extort the nazi, in the beleif that Dussander’s wickedness would appreciate “positively” the daring of his action.

    Todd thinks he has some kind of power over Dussander, just when he considers that the blackmail may work (and it works, apparently). This fact encourages Todd to go further every time. However, there is a limit that Todd ignores, and it will be then (when that limit is exceded) that the domination relationship is inverted: Dussander takes control of it. Evil itself has been unleashed.

    Singer is Jewish, and this circumstance allows him to erase any doubt about the ideology contained in the original novel. Singer is conscious of the horror suffered by his people, but he goes beyond it and locates the horror in daily situations and in daily people.

    The most worrying thing about the story is its proximity: what happens to Todd (the boy portrayed by Brad Renfro) and his attraction for what’s forbidden, this seems to be something that can happen to any resident of our neighbourhoods. The question is, what is appearance and what is reality?

    It only remains for me to say that Singer’s direction is intense and precise, the performances are brilliant (impressive Ian McKellen as Dussander), and the conclusion is distressing.

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