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Bonkers for Books: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

By Katie Steen in Arts & Culture


Jonathon Safran Foer is a brilliant man. “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” is a complex and stylistically unique novel that was more thought-provoking than any other novel I’ve read this year.

Varying perspectives interspersed with obscure black and white photographs involve a certain artistic element in the novel that is not seen in most mainstream literature. Foer has been recognized as one of the most original writers of his generation, and “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” was a New York Times Bestseller in 2005.

The novel follows the story of Oskar Schell, an intelligent and curious nine-year old, and his journey to find happiness after his father’s death in the tragedy of 9/11. The stories of Oskar’s grandmother and grandfather who grew up in Dresden, Germany and were affected by the fire bombing during World War II are also revealed through various letters and journal entry-style sections.

Oskar is one of the most lovable characters in all literature, and Safran Foer weaves many lovely metaphors and images that stick with you for a long time after you are done with the book.

Although “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” is all about life in the wake of tragedy, the novel is uplifting and beautiful.THE MOVIE To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t expecting much when I went to see this movie. I figured there was no way it could measure up to the book and it probably just got nominated for an Oscar because of the subject matter. And while I still agree that it’s not Oscar material, I was pleasantly surprised with many aspects of the film.

For one, I thought that the director, Stephen Daldry, did an excellent job of staying true to the artistic elements of the novel. The images that are shown in the novel were all incorporated somehow into the film, which I thought made it all the more powerful and artsy.

The timeline of the film is choppy, as in the novel, and although they decided not to keep the sub-plot of Oskar’s grandparents’ life, there is still an element of artful chaos in the way that the plot is laid out.

A lot of the film is narrated from Oskar’s point of view, like the novel, and that also ties the two together.

However, the plot is altered quite a bit from that of the novel. Normally, I would be completely against that, but I think that in this case the cuts and additions were made thoughtfully and it seemed as though the film was just a different telling of the same story.

There were a few relationships, such as that between Oskar and his grandmother, that I didn’t think were fleshed out well in the film like they were in the book. I understand the difficulties of keeping to the book when it is so long and complex, but I thought they could have created those relationships with a bit more substance in the film.

One aspect that I thought had no faults was the casting of the film. Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks play Oskar’s parents wonderfully and Thomas Horn made a great debut in the film world as Oskar Schell himself.

The overall reaction to the film was that it was, “Extremely Sad and Incredibly Depressing,” as said by senior Katelin Yearsley. The moment when the credits started rolling there was a collective “sniff” resonating throughout the theater and a general scrambling to grab tissues before the lights came back on.

Although definitely not a film for the type who only likes a movie with a happily ever after, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” was well-made and nicely cast.

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