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Name Your Favorite Bibliophilic Film

They say Video killed the Radio star –and then Youtube went out to kill Mtv– but the same cannot be said of movies and books. Even though there may be more people who would prefer to go to the movies than their local library, both the film industry and editorial companies engage in an interesting synergistic symbiosis, with Hollywood making millions out of the cinematic versions of best-selling novels, and the publishing of spin-off book series spawned by popular movies.

But what about movies whose center subject ARE books? The ones in which these precious forms of millenarian transmission of knowledge are duly praised and revered? That’s why I hereby want to invite all the Grailers out there to name their favorite Bibliophilic film; the one who manages to capture your passion for books, as well as our common fetishism for these marriages of pulp and ink –Srsly, what’s a better SMELL than that of a brand-new book fresh out of the printing press?

Since I’m the one proposing this game, allow me to start with my own personal favorite film of the Bibliophilic kind: The Name of the Rose (1986) based on the homonimous novel by Umberto Eco. Not only it’s one of Sean Connery’s best performances –and Ron Perlman is at his finest as Salvatore, the humpbacked heretic!– but it also shows how in the times full of superstition and ignorance of Medieval Europe, Christian monasteries became sanctuaries for many ‘forbidden’ books, which were forced to wait for a more enlightened age in order to acquire new readers.

[Spoiler Alert]

I tried unsuccessfully to find on Youtube the scene in which William of Baskerville (Connery) finds the secret chamber inside the monastery with his pupil Adso (Christian Slater), and is overjoyed to be inside “one of the greatest libraries in all of Christendom.” What I found instead was the scene in which Baskerville is faced with the heart-breaking decision, of trying to choose which of the precious books to save from the fire started by the old, murderous monk, Jorge de Burgos.

Have at it, fellow bookworms! 😉

  1. Books Films Within Books
    Two obvious ‘meta’ films about books, for kids, are The Neverending Story and Inkheart. Both nice explorations of what fiction means to us, and how in many senses it has its own ‘reality’.

  2. I can’t recall any movie that
    I can’t recall any movie that fits the topic at the moment, except maybe Notting Hill which I haven’t really seen yet. However I can recall a couple of really weird and wonderful scenes including books in wholly different movies. One is the library scene in Mirror Mask where Helena and valentine finds A Really Useful Book. Another one is the bookstore scene in Top Secret which is played out backwards. Because that is probably how they perceive how swedish sounds like. And then we of course have Evil Dead I & II but I can’t recall any specific scene at the moment but they are all hilarious.
    Now I actually recalled one such movie, The Ninth Gate which is all about a book purposedly illustrated by Lucifer himself.

  3. Books
    My favourite “book” film is “The Ninth Gate”. Steeped in hermetic occultism and a forbidden book (or three versions of the same book) it is also loaded with other bookish references such as the very real Hypnerotomachia de Polophili which was in the old mans library when Dean Corso is raiding it in the beginning.

    There are also delightful lines such as “I would bet a brace of Gutenbergs…”

    And of course the Ninth Gate reminds me of Kenneth Grant’s magical and fabulous “The Ninth Arch” such symbolism 🙂

  4. Here’s another one of mine:
    84 Charing Cross Road: The story of a vivacious New York writer (Anne Bancroft) who writes letters requesting rare books to a London book store, thus beginning a correspondence friendship with one of the store employees (Anthony Hopkins); a beautiful friendship that spanned decades.

    I think about that movie a lot; especially when I consider how there are many of my Grailer friends whom I will never be able to shake hands with and share a couple of beers. Not in this lifetime anyway…

  5. Books are life
    One of my all time favorite semi metaphysical flicks featuring books is Cloud Atlas, where a half a book (the other half deployed to prop the short leg of a bedstead) inspires a symphony, that moves a journalist, whose works enable the publication of a story that galvanizes a revolution that.. You get the drift. Books are divine wind.

    Another great movie praising books; The Book Thief. Books giving comfort during our most extreme desolation. (Books are boss like that.)

    Don’t laugh, but Dickens David Copperfield which is somewhat autobiographical in nature was made into a terrific movie, wherein writing saves a young man from poverty and later repairs his soul after tragedy. And Dickens gave us many books powerful in social reform.

    And then, there’s Stephen King’s Misery. Where the Constant Reader takes shit a bit too far. Well, way too far. (Books to die for or not.) Book meets a bad end.

    This is a game I could play for days.

  6. Fear is the mind-killer
    So many memes… my favourite would have to be “Dune” by Frank Herbert, and the 1984 movie directed by David Lynch.

    I like the concept behind David Mitchell’s more recent “Cloud Atlas” and the corresponding movie by the Wachowskis… I’ve thought for years that Kim Stanley Robinson’s similarly themed reincarnation/alternate history novel “Years of Rice and Salt” would make a wonderful basis for a screenplay, and it’s linear storyline might make it a little easier to follow than Cloud Atlas 😉

      1. John Carter
        John Carter (2012)
        At least if I understand the rules involved; A movie “about” a book?
        and not a movie just based on a book?
        Well in any case I do like this film,watched many times and still like it, there is also a lot of history to it–from imdb trivia (one of many):”Probably holds the record for having the longest period of “development hell” for any movie, at 79 years. Preproduction for a film version first started in 1931, when Robert Clampett (director of ‘Looney Tunes’) approached author Edgar Rice Burroughs to make an animated feature out of the first book in the series, “A Princess of Mars” (the same story that this film is an adaptation of). Had plans gone through, ‘John Carter’ could have become America’s first animated feature, beating Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) (1937). The film finally left development hell in January 2010 when filming officially started in London.”

          1. The film “Anonymous” which
            The film “Anonymous” which alleges that all of Shakespeare’s work was ghost written by William de Vere might qualify:

          2. Roland Emerich
            Huh, I’ve never seen this one! I’m not sure it qualifies but I need to check it out.

            Here’s another one: As cheesy and sugary as it was, but You’ve Got Mail is the love affair between two persons for whom books play a central role in their lives 😉


          3. Times they are a’changin
            [quote=red pill junkie]Here’s another one: As cheesy and sugary as it was, but You’ve Got Mail is the love affair between two persons for whom books play a central role in their lives ;)[/quote]

            Interesting how quickly we’ve gone from a movie about a book ‘super-store’ putting an indy bookshop out of business, to the reality now where Amazon has put the super-stores out of business.

          4. True
            Back in those days people thought the Internet was only good for flirting and falling in love with an anonymous stranger. But buying things and controlling pretty much everything in Meatspace?

            I blame Sandra Bullock’s The Net for our disbelief 😉


            Moviegoers were all “a female programmer this HOT and she’s a hermit? Pleeeeeeease! Everything else must be bull$#!t also” 😛

  7. Qualify
    So John Carter should qualify because most of the movie came from his nephews reading of his journal.
    However Fahrenheit 451 would have to be my favorite, that is at least the only one I can think of right now.

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