The impossibility of filming Catch 22

STARLIFESTYLE ONLY Catch 22 — Episode 1 – Young American flyers arrive in war and discover that the bureaucracy is more deadly than the enemy. Yossarian (Christopher Abbott), shown. (Photo by: Philippe Antonello/Hulu)

I’ve been watching George Clooney’s TV adaptation of Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 and it did that great thing of making me want to read the book all over again, which I have not done for a long, long time. Too long, as it turns out, because it is indeed a unique piece of writing that seemed so much fresher and full of energy than I remembered it.

The Clooney adaptation is very different to the 1970 film but I think that both show the impossibility of capturing the wild, contradictory spirit of the book.

Catch 22 is a novel that has contradictions at its heart. The main one being that in the novel, set in the later years of the Second World War, as a member of a bomber crew you could be grounded and not have to fly any more missions if you were insane. But before you could be grounded you would have to ask to be grounded. And if you asked to be grounded it proved that you were actually in full possession of your faculties, and so could not be grounded.

‘That’s some catch, that catch 22,’ says Yossarian after Doc Daneeka explains it to him.

‘It’s the best there is,’ says Doc Daneeka.

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Dame Vera Lynn’s new book

 

Dame Vera Lynn's new book Keep Smiling Through

 

Dame Vera Lynn’s new book Keep Smiling Through: My Wartime Story is published today by Century. Vera turned 100 earlier this year and I have been fortunate enough to work with her and her daughter Virginia Lewis-Jones in telling the remarkable story of her visit to entertain the troops in Burma in 1944.

Her visit coincided with the turning point in the war in the Far East and she was close to the front as the pivotal battles of Kohima and Imphal were being fought. Vera had just turned twenty-seven, and had only been out of the country once before, but she wanted to do ‘her bit’ to help.

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