Will iconic images recorded in the grooves of an ancient vase unite the Holy Land or rip it further apart?

THE VASE

A novel by Mark M. DeRobertis

Muhsin Muhabi is a Palestinian potter, descended from a long line of potters. His business is run from the same shop owned by his ancestors since the day his forebears moved to Nazareth. The region's conflict saw the death of his oldest son, and rogue terrorists are in the process of recruiting his youngest in their plot to assassinate the Pope and Israeli prime minister.

Professor Hiram Weiss is an art historian at Nazareth’s Bethel University. He is also a Shin Bet operative on special assignment. With the help of fellow agent, Captain Benny Mathias, he plans to destroy the gang responsible for the death of his wife and only child. He puts a bomb in the ancient vase he takes on loan from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.

Mary Levin, the charming assistant to the director of Shin Bet, has lost a husband and most of her extended family to recurring wars and never-ending terrorism. She dedicates her life to the preservation of Israel, but to whom will she dedicate her heart - the brilliant professor from Bethel University - or the gallant captain who now leads Kidon?

Harvey Holmes, the Sherlock of Haunted Houses, is a Hollywood TV host whose reality show just flopped. When a Lebanese restaurant owner requests his ghost-hunting services, he believes the opportunity will resurrect his career. All he has to do is exorcise the ghosts that are haunting the restaurant. It happens to be located right across the street from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.



Friday, April 4, 2014

Books to Movies-How Much is Changed?

I'm all for books being made into movies, especially if the story is one that would benefit from the latest modern technologies for special effects. Some movies didn't need spectacular special effects. Like the James Bond movies. Some movies really couldn't be done without them, like the more recent slew of comic book/superhero movies.

The Lord of the Rings books were also stories that needed modern CGI, and boy, did Peter Jackson deliver some winners, and he's still at it.

But the knock on books to movies was that usually the movies did not do justice to the books. Or the movies made too many changes to the story as told in the books, and those changes were not for the better. Sometimes, the movie was right on, and sometimes the movie was better.

Examples of movies being better than the books include Goldfinger and From Russia With Love. But the other Bond movies? I'd say no.

There are many examples of movies that were nowhere near as good as the books. Some people may argue that the vast majority of movies fit into that category. When the first Conan movie came out, I was really disappointed. That was not Conan on the screen. I still remember when I first saw that movie, I stood up at its conclusion and declared, "That wasn't Conan!"

People who were fans of the Batman character from DC comics knew how I felt. The early Batman shows and movies were not true to the Batman legend, I heard them say. The TV show with Adam West as Batman was a silly and goofy spoof. Even the Tim Burton movies were far from what the "real" Batman was supposed to have been.

As for me, I was never a Batman "fan" but I could understand where they were coming from. Especially when I saw how badly Conan was depicted on film. The later Batman movies, made by Christopher Nolan, I've been told, hit the mark, however. Those were considered acceptable by the Batman fans, even the hardcore Batman fans.

Marvel Comics has a lot of great characters that benefit from the CGI effects of modern movie making. But Stan Lee, the man from Marvel who invented most of those characters, apparently doesn't demand that his characters are depicted on film the way he had written them. Is that a sell out? Many people would say so. It seems the fans are more concerned about the accurate depiction of his characters than he is.

One man I have come to respect is Frank Miller, the comics writer/artist who wrote and illustrated the graphic novels Sin City. I heard that when movie maker Robert Rodriguez approached him to make his books into a movie, Miller automatically assumed Rodriguez would change his stories, and he said no.

Can you believe that? An author saying no to Hollywood? Now that's integrity. It was only when Rodriguez promised that the movie would be 100% true to the book, did Miller consider it, and when Rodriguez offered Miller a co-directing role in the movie to ensure he would be satisfied, Miller finally agreed. And it was a great movie.

I would hope I could have as much integrity. But I don't think so. I have not achieved anything close to what Miller has achieved. He was able to say no. I don't think I could. But right now I can only wish I could be in that position. It would be a dream come true.

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