Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Water for Elephants Movie Soon

The endlessly popular book Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen, is close to hitting the big screen. The movie is set to premiere in the US on April 22, with a cast that includes Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, Christopher Waltz, and Hal Holbrook. Just in case you haven't read the book yet (odds are slim), it's told from the perspective of Jacob Jankowski, now in his 90s and living in an assisted-living facility, about his experiences as a young man during the depression. After his parents are killed he drops out of veterinary school and gets a job with a third-rate traveling circus, tending to the animals. The book has a wonderful cast of circus personalities -- including Rosie (played by Tai) the elephant, who only understands commands in Polish -- and the story is made real through the accurate historical details.

Sara Gruen is an author who is known for her in-depth research and attention to details in her writing. In her most recent book, Ape House, she spent years researching linguistics and the bonobos and in particular the Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa:

"During the course of my research, I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Great Ape Trust -- not that that didn't take some doing. I was assigned masses of homework, including a trip to York University in Toronto for a crash course on linguistics. Even after I received the coveted invitation to the Trust, that didn't necessarily mean I was going to get to meet the apes; that part was up to them. Like John, I tried to stack my odds by getting backpacks and filling them with everything I thought an
ape might find fun or tasty -- bouncy balls, fleece blankets, M&M's, xylophones, Mr. Potato Heads, etc. -- and then emailed the scientists, asking them to please let the apes know I was bringing "surprises." At the end of my orientation with the humans, I asked, with some trepidation, whether the apes were going to let me come in. The response was that not only were they letting me come in, they were insisting. The experience was astonishing -- to this day I cannot think about it without getting goose bumps."

If you haven't read Water for Elephants yet, you've got plenty of time before the movie opens. A friend of mine listened to the audiobook version and gave it a big thumbs up. To whet your appetite, here is a trailer from the forthcoming movie.

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