Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A History of Violence – the Graphic Novel

A local comic book shop had a sale recently, and I spotted this ‘re-packaged as a companion piece to the movie’ graphic novel for $9.99 CDN. I know next to nothing about the movie except for that a man’s violent past comes back to haunt him. I knew the reviews were great and it sounded like a pretty intelligent piece of filmmaking, so I grabbed the opportunity to have a look at the source material at a very low price.

What can I say? This is good stuff, but very, very intense. I had no idea what I was getting myself into – it is very gut wrenching and more than a little gruesome in spots. Of course, none of the violence is gratuitous as it really adds to the ominous tone hovering over the storyline. The reader really feels what Tom feels – the cold fist wrapped around his spine.

After a discussion with a friend yesterday (who saw 24 films at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and proclaimed AHOV to be the best of the lot), I learned that the movie is quite different as the script deviates a good deal from the book, and parts that I couldn’t even imagine seeing on screen never do make it to screen.

Overall, I really dug this little book – the rather rough pencils help add to the atmosphere and the minimalist dialogue helps to propel the narrative. It’s serendipitous that both gangsters and small town Mid-Westerners speak in terse sentences. Good stuff – makes your skin crawl in all of the right ways.

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