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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Speaking out on 'Silent Hill'

From Peter Jurmu, Mason, MI

I want to be one of the few "Silent Hill" fans who, I imagine, will not send you an email bursting with "You-stupids" and "If you'd-play-the-game-you'd-understands." A film based on a video game, even a well-made one, unless it is made exclusively for fans, cannot hope to receive much critical acclaim in the United States unless it stands on its own, independent of its source material. This principle isn't unique to video games, but to any adapted work.

Your 3 1/2-star review of "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within," for example. Most fans of the games hated the film because it contained very little from the series that they love, but it received reasonably decent ratings from critics probably for that very reason. "Silent Hill," however, is the opposite way. I expect that I will love the film, having cherished memories of the first time the original PlayStation game made me forego sleep as a teenager out of pure terror. I also expect that I will be surrounded by moviegoers who have never played the game, couldn't give a damn, and will likely walk out of the theater utterly confused and with the notion that there will never be a good relationship between games and film reinforced in their minds.

This is a film made by a fan of the game for fans of the game; to them, it will be a masterpiece. To everyone else, it'll be nonsense. It's unfortunate, certainly, but nevertheless it is the state of things.

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