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Book Report: Prince of Foxes

I have mentioned in this Tohu Bohu that Prince of Foxes is one of my comfort books, a book that provides a warm and familiar pleasure without requiring very hard work. One nice thing about such a book is that it’s easy to pick up and put down; I don’t have to worry about losing the narrative thread, since the thread is now so deeply interwoven with my own memories that I could just go to a chapter at random and immediately pick up the feelings and connotations appropriate to that point in the story.

I’ve never seen the movie made from the book; I suspect it isn’t very good. There could be a magnificent movie of the book. It would require ruthless compression, of course, and then even more compression to make room for the battle scenes which Mr. Shellabarger sketches in outline, but which a filmmaker would need to spend money and time making real. It’s a shame, really. Mr. Shellabarger points out that Andrea’s skill is as a strategist as well as with the sword; in a pitched battle he is reduced to bashing away with brute strength. It could make a nice moment (as could the bit where he comes face to face with Belli in the thick of things), but in order to work, it would require five minutes of the sort of epic battle scene I’ve grown really tired of, and which would probably overbalance the movie.

The key scene of the movie, of course, is Belli gouging out Andrea’s eyes, with the firelight red on his mottled face and his unholy glee. I’d prefer to play Belli myself, of course, but it’s a juicy Oscar-ready role for some youngish character actor. Steve Buscemi? Can he do period? Imagine what a young Jean Reno could have done with it, or even Danny Trejo. I wouldn’t mind seeing Brad Pitt (in his character guise) or Giovanni Ribisi. I imagine John Turturro would be the obvious choice, though. Feh. I don’t really like any of them. I’ll just have to do it myself.

chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek,