Monday, December 12, 2011

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

    My third book to review in this month's What Should Kester Read? is B. Traven's The Treasure of the Sierra Madre Interestingly, this is the second book this month to have been adapted into a film that I love. However, while The Neverending Story proved far superior to its film version (though the film will continue to hold a special place in my nostalgic ol' heart), The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is no better and no worse than The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Which is to say that the book is an excellent book and the film (I now discover upon reading said book) is an excellent adaptation.
    Three down-and-out gringos meet by chance in a Mexican city and discuss how to overcome their financial distress. They  set out to discover gold in the remote Sierra Madre mountains, riding by train into the hinterlands and then surviving an attack by bandits. Upon discovering the treasure they seek, a mine is dug, gold is extracted, and greed produces paranoia, as one of the men, Dobbs, begins to lose his trust and then his mind, filled with a desire to possess the entire treasure for himself.
    Care to guess whether that's a synopsis of the book or the film? The answer is, of course, yes. John Huston's award for Best Adapted Screenplay was well deserved, right down to the "Badges?!" exchange. But he'd have had no story to adapt without the brilliant B. Traven. This is a classic tale of how the love of money really is the root of evil and why Gordon Gekko was wrong when he said, "greed is good." Read the book. See the film. The order is unimportant. Whichever you get to first will be your favorite, but you're bound to love them both.

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