RARA-AVIS: The Siege of Trencher's Farm redux

From: Nathan Cain ( IndieCrime@gmail.com)
Date: 17 Feb 2008

I posted a while ago, asking about The Siege of Trencher's Farm, which was adapted into the movie Straw Dogs. I finally got around to reading it last weekend, and I have to say I found it to be superior to the film, The events of the novel, leading up to the climactic siege, are a little more implausible than the movie (a child goes missing, a child killer gets free from an asylum due to an auto accident and a giant blizzard sets in all at the exact same time), but the book is still more chilling. In it, there is no relationship between the main character's wife and any of the villagers, and the attack on them is part of a general inferiority complex, and years of impotent rage boiling to the surface. There's no slow build of tension, as there is in the movie, everything just sort of explodes all at once. The novel isn't terribly politically correct either. The wife is relieved when her husband finally smacks her around a little and takes charge, and the main character finds himself through violence. I came away with the impression that all of the violence saved their relationship. Not exactly a conclusion to warm the hearts of pacifists of feminists. That said, the rape scene for which the movie is infamous is not in the book. (neither is the bear trap, which figures prominently in the movie's climax) I really want to defend Peckinpah here, but I'm not sure that I can. The book works fine without any hint of sexual violence, and the charges of misogyny leveled against him may have some merit.

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