Casting the Movies in My Mind

By , December 22, 2009

Recently, I discussed the problem of finding a good Christmas book to read. Michelle just reread one of the books I mentioned, Rosamunde Pilcher’s Winter Solstice (available through your local bookstore) .

The Christmas she first read it, we discussed the book one morning as we prepared our coffee and tea. As we talked, I discovered something about myself that I hadn’t realized before. Michelle referred to characters by name. I’m very bad at remembering the names of characters in books and movies, and had to be reminded of who was whom.

“So, Elfrida decided to . . .”

“I’m sorry—which one is Elfrida again?”

“She’s the older woman.”

“Oh! Yes—Lynn Redgrave plays her!”

“Did someone make a movie version of this?”

“I don’t know, but Lynn Redgrave is Elfrida when I read the book. And Max Von Sydow plays Oscar.”

It occurred to me that Max Von Sydow also played The Storyteller in Frank Delaney’s Ireland, a book I read and thoroughly enjoyed the previous spring.

That’s when it hit me: Max Von Sydow must be my favorite actor!

I have never bothered to identify my favorite actors or actresses, particularly. I suppose I could figure out my favorites by whose movies I make a point of seeing. It would be a short list. But now I see that in the movies in my mind—the ones that play as I read books—Mr. Von Sydow is a member of the cast almost every time an older gentleman is described.

The funny thing is, most of the time I don’t substitute actors for characters in books. If the author provides an adequate description of a character, that’s the person I see. That makes it harder to watch movies made from books I’ve read, as the actors chosen for the roles rarely match my imagination. Max Von Sydow, it would appear, does. Certainly, his is the voice I like to hear speaking the character’s words in my head.

I’ve enjoyed Max Von Sydow in movies from The Seventh Seal to Snow Falling on Cedars, and many, many others. But apparently my favorite movies of his are the ones that play in my own mind. How does one express that in a fan letter, I wonder?

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