24 March 2012 | p_radulescu
The Love for Books and the Way Books Return Your Love
I found this 15 minutes movie totally by chance, as I was browsing the blog of a Portuguese books lover. I started watching the movie and I was immediately charmed. An old friend of mine came to my mind: a friendship of some sixty years.
I was five or six, he was fifteen or sixteen by that time. An aunt of him was living together with us and he was visiting her very often. I was just opening my eyes to the world, and the world was immense and full of unknowns, so no wonder I had lots of questions. He was taking time to listen to my questions and to give answers. It was about anything one could imagine, about pirates and about explorers, about the North Pole and the South Pole, and about seas and oceans, about hunting exotic animals, and about what job to take when I would grow up.
After two years or so I started going to school, and he entered the University. He began to pass some books of him to me, as I remember it was firstly The Wizard of Oz, then some books by Jules Verne and Nikolay Nosov. A book about volcanoes followed, and then a book written by Sven Hedin about his travels all over the world.
Years have passed, each of us was following his ways, while both sharing the passion for books. Sometimes we were meeting in a used books store, each browsing some old French book, or some album of old photos. Sometimes I was visiting him, some other times he was returning the visit. Each time it was a book that was coming in our discussion. When I left for America we met and he showed me three books he was reading somehow in parallel, about the American ways and about immigrant experience there.
After many years I came back and our friendship was no more the same. Maybe because both of us were old now, maybe because of lack of time, or because of lack of enthusiasm, or a bit of all these. Anyway our last meeting brought the subject of books again, only this time to punctuate disagreements. I was now using intensively the web and the electronic books, while for him only the printed books had sense, nothing else.
This was a couple of years ago. We tried to meet again, but each time it was something impeding it. We called each other by phone several times, then this stopped too. Life went on and electronic books became more and more sophisticated, advancing from desktops and laptops to tablets, while printed books remained the same, more and more forgotten on shabby shelves.
I called him again today, after watching the movie: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore tells a story about printed books, about their pages, full of words and images, about living surrounded by books, dreaming while browsing the pages till you get lost in their stories. It's about love for the printed word, and about the way the printed word returns your love. A movie about the aggressiveness of electronic books, acting like a hurricane, destroying the spirit of words and of images, and about the way to reconstruct the lost spirit. All this in an animation, in the form of a story for kids, a fantasy taking place in an atmosphere reminding sometimes The Wizard of Oz , maybe also a bit Le Ballon Rouge (while the hero somehow resembles Buster Keaton).
Ironically, the story is based on a book that can be read now on laptops and on tablets, browsing the electronic pages and inviting the reader to play interactively.
And I called my friend to tell him about all this, and I said that I would dedicate this text to him and to his love for the printed book, only he wouldn't be able to read it: the text is on the web.