Pontypool: Radio and Film

by Counti 

I talked a little about this in my discussion post, but I wanted to talk more about it here. 

Why change the endings? 

There is a little bit of trivia that said that initially, the movie was only going to be the radio waves on screen, similar to the beginning of the movie. If that was the case, would the movie have been the short 46 minute version, or would it have still been the longer version? Part of the differences in the endings can be attributed to the movie justifying taking place as a visual medium: there are changes in scenery, more characters, and more action—as well as the inclusion of Grant trying to save others, the bombing, the post credits scene, and the fact that Blair survives a bit longer. This changes the tone that the radio drama has and really pulls away from the horror and suspense that the radio drama cultivates. I truly believe that if I had listened solely to the radio drama, or heard it first, I would have been far more terrified, because I believe the radio drama is a stronger piece or horror media. I think it would be interesting to have part of the class listen to the radio drama first and the other half the movie first, and see what is more horrifying and what has a greater impact—as well as what ending fits the theme and makes the most sense. 

Furthermore, what purpose do the different endings serve? To be completely honest, I was unsure of what the movie (and the radio drama) was trying to say at the end. Not every piece of media needs to be clear cut, but I did feel that towards the end (mainly of the movie) the horror had fallen to the wayside and my confusion had won over. I would have liked to hear what others thought about the strengths of both endings, both in terms of story and in terms of a horror story. It also made me wonder about the use of horror as genre or horror as a plot device, which is something I hadn’t thought about before. The horror of the movie was very strong during the first half (which was the majority alike to the radio drama) but it fell off as the movie continued. Not only that, but the pacing of the movie felt like it should have ended about halfway through, and now that I’ve listened to the radio drama, that makes sense–I think it was supposed to end halfway through, but they tacked on a bunch of things to the end. I would be interested in reading the book and seeing what other differences there were. From the reviews I read, the book is said to be somehow more vague. I am curious, however, about the ways it is vague. I feel like confusion has a key role in horror. You want just enough to have people interested, curious, and on the edge of their seats. The horror of the unknown is important and definitely causes my heart to race. But too much confusion and frustration comes into playIf people are too confused, then that confusion replaces the horror, and I wonder if that happened with anyone else while watching or listening to Pontypool

The realism of the radio drama:

I was curious if there was a way to reach a similar effect of horror and confusion if we as the audience only received what the people of Pontypool got to listen to. As is, a lot of the story would be incomprehensible without backstage access, and we would lose some character development and some neat moments. However, thinking about War of the Worlds, I think that it could be interesting to do a re-write that focused on a listener’s perspective. What could be changed or added? Could a character accidentally leave the broadcast on so the audience could hear a pivotal moment? Could Laurel-Anne, since she was taken over by the virus, turn the radio broadcast on in an effort to infect more people? Would that add some suspense and fear if you were listening to the radio version, provided it was the right type of confusion (akin to going through the situation in real life) versus just the confusion of bad writing? 

My thoughts on the obituaries: 

I think the obituaries were more fitting in the radio version. In the radio version, the obituaries  are given at the very end, making the fact that Grant would need information he has no way of getting to tell the obituaries make a little more sense. It feels more poetic, and it’s more like a ghostly explanation rather than an in-world part of the plot. However, in the movie, it seems to function more like it was a real thing he had really said, which took me out of the terror of the moment because I started questioning how he could know, rather than basking in the poetics of what the obituaries were saying. 

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