Cult fiction item #8

I watched the 1999 film adaptation of Breakfast of Champions yesterday evening. I decided to check this film – after having read the delightful novel in Spain a week ago – because I considered the novel unfilmable. Unfilmable because of the book’s tone, which hovers perfectly between the surreal and the very mundane. Unfilmable also because it is an illustrated novel (with crude illustrations by Vonnegut himself, the anus illustration at the beginning sets the tone) and because the novel features many matter-of-fact explanations (what is a cow?, what is earth?, etc.).

The film was written and directed by minor American director Alan Rudolph and stars Bruce Willis, Albert Finney, Nick Nolte and Barbara Hershey. The film was widely panned by critics. It is indeed painful to watch.

Some feebly redeeming elements include the score by Martin Denny, revisiting Barbara Hershey, Glenne Headly in lingerie and the over-the-top cross-dressing scene by Nick Nolte towards the end.

The only way to adapt this unfilmable novel would have been to add at least a third person omniscient voice-over, instead of trying to hide its novelish antecedents.

This [1] unidentified excerpt – from a Vonnegut documentary I presume – is exactly what I have in mind.

Breakfast of Champions (the novel) is cult fiction item #8.

1 thought on “Cult fiction item #8

  1. One Penny Profiles

    Yup. Pretty tough stuff to turn into a film. Dig this. I’m teaching in Korea and, just last week, I tried to teach the first section. The whole tone thing you mentioned…. well they didn’t get it. Just missed it all together.

    Sorry to hear that, better luck next time. Show them the excerpt. Good to have you at Jahsonic

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