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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Chocolat

The past days, I did an exercise with my students in which they had to write a critque on a book, compared with a film version. I chose Chocolat. The novel is written by Joanne Harris and the film is with Johnny Depp, Juliette Binoche and Judy Dench.


Chocolat tells the story of Viane and her daughter Anouk. They are wanderers, travelling from town to town. Viane has certain powers, inherited from her mother, and she turns them into making chocolate that fits someone's character. Finally the two arrive in the little village of Lansqunet-sous-Tannes, a very provincial community. They are not very much welcome, and especially the priest (in the count) make their life difficult. But Viane soon makes friends with Armande, mother of Caroline (a devout christian) and also with Josephine Muscat, the wife of the innkeeper. When gypsies land their boats near the village, the situation becomes even more difficult and it leads to the burning down of the boats (in the book by the priest, in the film by the innkeeper). Viane falls in love with Roux (this is the role acted by Johnny Depp) but even he can't persuade her to stay at the end.


Personally I find the book way better than the film. But that is often the case with films based on novels. To start with, they altered the ending. In the book Viane and Anouk disappear with the northern wind and in the film they stay in Lansquenet and you assume Viane and Roux will be a couple. Also Anouk imaginary friend, Pantoufle, is different. In the book he is a rabbit, in the film a kangeroo.

I'm curious to read what my students think of it. They are good students, so I take it they'll do a good job on writing this assignment.

Btw, our school is presently evacuated. Normally there would have been festivities (open air concerts, for instance). Last night a freight train got off the rails and some cars filled with an extremely poisonous gas exploded and began to burn. The inhabitants of Wetteren and villages around it had to leave their homes and there are already casualties (2 dead, some wounded). I don't know what's going to happen. It can be that we don't have to go to work on Monday.  Just wait and see.

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