Voices

It was the arrival of the cannon in the 19th century that finally heralded the end of elephants being used as an instrument of war. Until that time, from as early as 1000BC, they trampled across battlefields around the globe, through wars in places as far flung as Yemen and Sri Lanka.

FILM / Life, but not as they know it: Adam Mars-Jones on Short Cuts, Robert Altman's all-star adaptation and full-scale appropriation of short stories by Raymond Carver

Raymond Carver never wrote a novel, but if he had it would have been very unlike the film Robert Altman has made of a handful of his short stories, Short Cuts (18). Carver would certainly have been flattered, but he might also have been horrified at what happens when his scrupulous grey scripts of narrative are woven together until they are big enough to carpet a ballroom (Short Cuts runs over three hours). By his juxtapositions, both on the level of the screenplay, written with Frank Barhydt, and of editing, Altman superimposes his own meanings to the point where Carver's intentions are pretty much irrelevant.

BOOK REVIEW / Screening out small unpardonable crimes: 'Short Cuts' - Raymond Carver: Harvill, 6.99 pounds

THIS slim volume contains the nine stories on which Robert Altman has based his sumptuous new three-hour exploration of American life, so we can hardly avoid seeing it as the book of the film. It is certainly refreshing to see how the late author has turned the crude formulae of movie-making into literature of such an intense and exacting sort.

Stories close to home: Short Cuts, the latest film from Robert Altman, is drawn from nine stories and a poem by Raymond Carver. Here Altman the director talks about Carver the writer

Raymond Carver made poetry out of the prosaic. One critic wrote that 'he revealed the strangeness concealed behind the banal', but what he really did was capture the wonderful idiosyncracies of human behaviour, the idiosyncracies that exist amid the randomness of life's experiences. And human behaviour, filled with all its mystery and inspiration has always fascinated me.

BOOK REVIEW / Ghostly sons and lovers: 'The Magnolia' - Philip Callow: Allison & Busby, 5.99 pounds

PHILIP CALLOW's career as a writer runs back to the Fifties. Common People, a fine early novel, dates from 1958, and he contributed to Tom Maschler's collection of 'committed' post-Suez essays Declaration (1957).

FILM / Hits of 1993

Steven Spielberg's 'Jurassic Park' fulfils the hype by crushing the competition and scaling the top of the 1993 box-office chart (grosses calculated from 4 December 1992 to 28 November 1993). Even with the advantage of opening six months earlier, the runners-up - the Whitney Huston / Kevin Costner weepie 'The Bodyguard' and Macauley Culkin reprising the role that made him in 'Home Alone 2' - took less than half as much at the box-office. It's a sad reflection on Britain's film industry that every film in the chart was produced in America.

LEADERS OF THE PACK / A whirl in the time machine: Film Of The Year

IT WAS the best of American times, and the worst of European. Hollywood still packed people in for pap - Indecent Proposal, The Firm - but showed that not all box-office sell- outs are artistic ones too. Jurassic Park became the most successful film of all time, and you could at least see why; though Roberto Rodriguez's El Mariachi, made for dollars 8,000, reminded you that a fresh eye is as special as any effect. The Fugitive, which was nit-picked on for its plot when its realism lay in character, vied with In the Line of Fire for best thriller. In a seat-clutching finish, Clint and co just took it - along with the Maureen Lipman award for creative use of telephone.

If you can't stand the velociraptor, get out of the kitchen: From Stephen Spielberg, a summer of prehistoric hypt and terror in Jurassic park, America is already in its grip; on 16 July it begins to eat in Britain. A shaken Peter Pringle reports from New York

THE 10-year-old boy emerged from the cinema, squinted into the afternoon sunlight, and looked up at his mother. 'It could have been less gory,' he observed in a rather dignified, grown-up manner, considering what he had just seen. Another, smaller boy came out clutching his mother's hand. She said, 'Do you know, Marvin, you held my hand so tightly all the way through?' The boy ignored her, still holding on as if his next breath depended on it.

She may call it pleasure, but it's painful to watch

THE CINEMA was two-thirds empty. It shouldn't have been. It was Sunday, it was raining, and Madonna's Body of Evidence had only just come on general release in Britain. When another rainy Sunday was spent watching Strictly Ballroom, the cinema was full even though it had been showing for weeks.
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