Catch-22: movie and book

Discussion in 'Books' started by alansl, Sep 20, 2003.

  1. alansl

    alansl New Member

    Aug 20, 2000
    Has anyone seen the movie and read the book? I finally say the movie last weekend, and to be honest, I liked it better than the book, though I think it helped to know what's happening in the movie by having read the book, if that makes any sense.

    What I was really curious about, though, is what kind of name is Yossarian? For some reason, I think it sounds Bosnian (not that I know anything about Bosnian names). Am I close?

    Thanks in advance.
    alansl
     
  2. bungadiri

    bungadiri Super Moderator
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    Jan 25, 2002
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    I have to disagree. The movie was okay but the book was a masterpiece.

    IIRC Yossarian is an Armenian name, intended to with the character's status as someone who's completely out of place.
     
  3. champmanager

    champmanager Member

    Dec 13, 2001
    Alexandria, VA
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    I have to disagree with you and agree with Bungladari and say the movie was very, very strange...maybe I'd like it better if I saw it now, but the book is in another world...an American masterpiece.
    However, I must most heartily disagree with the right honourable Bungladari on another issue: Yossarian is most demonstrably ASSYRIAN, and I read an intereview with Heller in which he said he made Yossarian an Assyrian because he'd read the Assyrians were a dying race...and he wanted to show that rebels with a half a stich of sanity were also a dying race.
     
  4. nancyb

    nancyb Member

    Jun 30, 2000
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    The book is a masterpiece. The movie - a jumble if you don't already know what's going on. Yossarian is probably Armenian.
     
  5. champmanager

    champmanager Member

    Dec 13, 2001
    Alexandria, VA
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    I was positive that Yossarian says in the book that he's assyrian, numerous times...but I haven't read in a while, and I don't have a copy handy.
    And the chaplain was an "anabaptist", which means, if you know your Latin, that he's "not a baptist".
    So who knows.

    EDIT: I just went to google and typed in "Yossarian Assyrian Catch-22". He's definitely Assyrian. However...
    I think Yossarian was meant to be universal, and by making him Assyrian, Heller makes it impossible for the reader to assign any kind of enthic stereotypes or preconcetions to him (Has any ever known an assyrian-america?) If he'd made him noticeably Jewish, or Armenian, or Irish or Italian, it wouldn't have worked.
    And like I said in my first post, I once read an interview in which Heller explained his choice of heritage. Either way I don't think Heller really thought of Yossarian as really being Assyrian - he didn't want you to think about it at all. Yossarian is one of a kind, the last product of a now broken mold.
     
  6. bungadiri

    bungadiri Super Moderator
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    Jan 25, 2002
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    I happily stand (sit actually) corrected. I remember one of my college profs doing a riff on the Anabaptist chaplain, and it fits very well with the theme you describe.
     
  7. champmanager

    champmanager Member

    Dec 13, 2001
    Alexandria, VA
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    I've only seen the movie once, a long time ago, but the ONLY casting I thought was correct was Anthony Perkins as the chaplain. He fit the quiet, meek, humble, chaplain perfectly. With the rest of the casting, it was like they hired all the actors, then put their names in a hat and pulled them out, with Jon Voigt saying "WOW! I get to be Milo Minderbender!" But a book that unconventional was never going to be a good movie if they did it straight. The director (was it Mike Nichols?) took a chance, went his own way, and did what he did. When I saw the movie I was such a passionate fan of the book that I was never going to be able to give it a fair shake. I should go rent it.

    By the way...NancyB? Would you like to stand up in front of the class and apologize to Professor Champmanager?
     
  8. nancyb

    nancyb Member

    Jun 30, 2000
    Falls Church, VA
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    Professor,

    Please forgive me for forgetting that Yossarian said he was Assyrian and applying my preconceived stereotypes to associate a particular name with an ethnic group.

    Sincerely,

    Your obliging student

    Now getting back the book. My dad was a tail gunner in the Army-Air Force in WW2. He was lucky to come out alive, as most people in that role met the same fate of the character in Catch-22, who Yossarian finds with his guts spilled out in the plane. Had it not been for a fortuitous shot in the foot, my dad may have met the same fate.

    I just love the scene where Yossarian has to pretend to be someone who has just died so the deceased's families can say goodbye to him. And the censorship of enlisted men's mail, and the... It just goes on and on. I may have to read it again. Maybe, then, I won't forget that Yossarian is an Assyrian.
     
  9. bungadiri

    bungadiri Super Moderator
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    Jan 25, 2002
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    Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?
     
  10. champmanager

    champmanager Member

    Dec 13, 2001
    Alexandria, VA
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    "I"m cold. I'm cold."
    Was the character who said that the one who was played by Art Garfunkel? Snowden wasn't really in the book, as far as I remember, except in death. But he may have been the one who said "I'm cold. I'm cold" which pops up again and again.
    But I seem to recall the character played by Art Garfunkel was the one with the Italian girlfriend, who pretended not to care for the guy, but when Yossarian broke the news to her about her lover's death, went totally nuts and stalked him for the rest of the book with a butcher's knife.
    Maybe I should just go to the library and read the thing again. But it somehow seems more fun to rehash it here.
     
  11. bungadiri

    bungadiri Super Moderator
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    Jan 25, 2002
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    Snowden was in the book as a Yossarian flashback that recurred and grew increasingly more extensive as the novel progressed. It's the focus of the darkness that underlies all the humor in the novel. IIRC, it's pivotal to Yossarian's character: before Yossarian ended up with Snowden's bowels in his lap, he guided the bombing runs in strictly according to regs and after that incident he twisted and turned, leveling off only when the time came to release the payload.

    I don't remember about Garfunkel, thought. (Incidentally, why the hell was he ever in any movie?)
     
  12. nancyb

    nancyb Member

    Jun 30, 2000
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    I just finished re-reading Pride and Prejudice and have nothing on deck. Maybe I'll reread my all time favorite to fill the time.
     
  13. yossarian

    yossarian Moderator
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    Jun 16, 1999
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    Can't believe no one invited me to this thread earlier.
    Obviously....I liked the book. The movie was okay in that weird kind of 70's movies way.
     
  14. ex-PFC Wintergreen

    ex-PFC Wintergreen BigSoccer Yellow Card

    Nov 3, 2003
  15. nsa

    nsa Member+

    New England Revolution; Boston Breakers
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    Feb 22, 1999
    Notboston, MA
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    Phew. I haven't read that book in over 20 years and it is still powerful. The imagery created by descriptions in the book cause this phase to send shivers of fear and dread up my back.

    In all honesty, I don't recall any movies that lived up to the original book. There is something about the pictures created in my mind from the words that cannot be matched by the limits of film technology.

    That said, I'll be in a theater to catch the opening day of RotK, just as I was for TT and FotR. :)
     

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