Thursday, September 21, 2006

All the King's Men Revisited

Classic Our Word

With the release tomorrow of the remake of All the King's Men, we take a look back at what Mitchell wrote about the Pulitizer Prize-winning novel (what he called a "gothic political horror story") back in December 2004:


All the King’s Men, the fictionalized story of former Louisiana governor Huey Long, is what you might call “serious” fiction (just look at the number of reviews on from students who’d been assigned to read it). It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1947, and was adapted into a movie that won the Best Picture Oscar two years later. As such, it has all the gravity that one might expect. But it has more, much more. It has language.

The book has recurrent themes – motion, for example (the motion of cars down the highway, the motion forward in the quest for knowledge and the journey both away from and towards God, the motion of heading toward one’s destiny while at the same time trying to escape from it). And always, there’s the underlying question of good and evil (at one point, Willie Stark, the Huey Long character, comments that all good comes from evil because evil is all there is to work with).

Perhaps because of the novel’s basis in fact, the ending has a preordained feeling that allows Warren to concentrate on other elements of the story. It is true, as many critics have pointed out, that Warren digresses from time to time – in particular, two sub-stores go far afield from the main narrative, and in the hands of a lesser writer you might even forget what he’d been talking about before.


Read the entire piece here.

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