High fidelity

Published 19 Dec 2016


Movie making is the consequential action. The novel/book sees the light of the day first. The moment it hits the stands, it is read, appreciated and criticized by the reading public. You come to a conclusion about its strong and weak points by the reviews to its credit and the demand for the book by the pubic. A good and popular book catches the imagination of the producer/director of a movie. If the book is not popular, the unsold copies remain in the book shop. But if the movie flops it remains nowhere! A good book need not necessarily turn a good movie.

Many factors influence the predictability whether the movie will be successful or not. But it is generally, the winning bet. A good book gives birth to a better movie! The one, who has read the novel, will remain eager to view the movie, but the reverse may not be true! To sum up the strength of the novel in two words:–its humor and sensitivity! It is the same old story—it is between him and her! This book by Nick Hornby is the story of a passionate music lover. To him, music and love are alternative beats of the same heart.


High Fidelity is a slick movie- it is well made and attractive. It describes the pathetic state of love of the male, deeply affected and influenced by modern materialistic civilization. The free love of this era is not actually free—its latent contents are envy, elation, despair, hope, creativity and many such pairs of opposites. They act and react on the psyche of the male and female. But the movie provides sufficient pep-talks to both not to get disappointed in life.

There are some passages that are extraordinarily good, that touch the spiritual borders, but in a humorous style. The seriousness and the satire in this dialogue need special mention. Hornby writes, “Have you got any soul?” a woman asks the next afternoon. That depends, I feel like saying; some days yes, some days no. A few days ago I was right out; now I’ve got loads, too much, more than I can handle. I wish I could spread it a bit more evenly, I want to tell her, get a better balance, but I can’t seem to get it sorted. I can see she wouldn’t be interested in my internal stock control problems though, so I simply point to where I keep the soul I have, right by the exit, just next to the blues.”(p. 75.)

It is the story between love and the love for books, music, records and things like that. The interesting drama of romantic struggle vs. the struggle to lead an ideal love-life! After Rob’s first love Laura leaves him in search of greener pastures of love, he becomes cynical but carries on with his permanent love with other music-buddies in the shop and gets busied in the compilations of the music records. He realizes that his lady-love and his love for music can not travel on the same track. He arrives at yet another milestone in his love-carrier with a touring singer, Marie La Salle but his uncertain love life becomes complicated with the second encounter with Laura. Love-life is bound to be affected, for those who are obsessed with music. Rob has terrific time dealing with his lady-loves, and though he gives equal respect and attention to them as much he gives to his musical records, he authors a new record– marriage is not the merry-age! The post-break up pathos from the male point of view have been described accurately, sensitively and humorously in the book.

For those who are seriously involved with music, it is not a secular subject, it is their spiritual identity. To them, every other thing is subservient to music. Each and every molecule of their being is surcharged with love for music and the alternative beats of their heart relate to nothing but music. On the top of it, they expect their near and dear ones, to love music with the same intensity. That could be the one reason why Laura deserted Rob, and Rob could not understand the reasons for her departure from his life. He was not prepared for it, and she landed him in confusion. The bird of music had made his heart the permanent cage for its abode and it ever moved there with tantalizing speed, making him the bard! Perhaps Laura could not cope up with this type of seriousness for the music, and left him for other options.

Nick Hornby gives music and romance a philosophical spin in “High Fidelity,” the funny, rueful book about men, music, and modern love. While occasionally his lead character’s “top five” lists can be a little annoying, this is a charmingly original, wry and thoughtful novel – an offbeat romance for our time. He writes, “”It seems to me that if you place music (and books, probably, and films, and plays, and anything else that makes you feel) at the centre of your being , then you can’t afford to sort out your love life, start to think of it as the finished product. You’ve got to pick at it and unravel it all until it comes apart and you’re compelled to start all over again.”(P.138-139)


The book is very good and to say that the characters have got to be good. It is basically the story about an inpidual, Rob Fleming and his break-up with his girlfriend and a series of separations. He is the owner of a record shop, ably assisted by two music enthusiasts, Dick and Barry. With Laura’s departure from his life, what he does is symbolic of the state of his mind. He sets the stock of his records in autobiographical order. In a parallel action, he mentions about his split-ups in chronological order. He explains this situation in the book thus, which incidentally is the first sentence of the book. It reads, “My desert-island, all-time, top five most memorable split-ups, in chronological order:

  • Alison Ashworth
  • Penny Hardwick
  • Jackie Allen
  • Charlie Nicholson
  • Sarah Kendrew”

John Cusack has lots of resemblance to the description of Rob Fleming, the central character. The various women with whom he interacts are different, appearance wise, from what is stated about them in the book. “Things that are not in the film, or are different in the film: Rob is more of a loser in the book. Rob also has more bad sides to him. Tim Robinson is not in the book.”(High Fidelity…)

Setting of the novel:

The novel is set in London. The film relates the story in Chicago, USA. The skater kids are good embellishments for the story for the movie but certain things are omitted or adopted with modifications to suit the objectives and requirements from the movie point of view. The non-linear timeline works beautifully in the book. Not so in the film. The scenes in Robinson’s record store are unique and the memorable episodes in North London’s pubs where Robinson and his shop assistants go on a drinking spree and enter into an endless musical debate and without head and tail and the laughter session—well, these are the good examples of real-life situations.

Book vs. movie—debits and credits:

The greatest limitation with this movie or any movie is the time factor. You need to cover the entire story within the limited time of 21/2 -3 hours. As for the book, you may keep it below the pillow as many times as you want and complete its reading in several sittings. You can sell back the book and get some return and as for movie tickets you may have to buy them in premium, if the movie hits! But the direct involvement of the writer of the book, Nick Hornby in the process of creating the movie makes it very special. In short, the book and the movie are true to each other.

Nick Hornby’s spiritual approach to life is evident in both. He writes,” Maybe we all live at too high a pitch, those of us who absorb emotional things all day, and as a consequence we can never feel merely content: we have to be unhappy, or ecstatically, head-over-heels happy, and those states are difficult to achieve within a stable, solid relationship. Maybe Al Green is directly responsible for more than I ever realized.” (p.139)The movie has captured the spirit of the book in an admirable style. They are true and faithful to each other like the happily married couple! The movie may not contain all the facts and the minor details contained in the book, and that is not possible due to obvious reasons. But the sum and substance is the same, the humor is both noticeable and enjoyable, you feel as if you are entering the dark caves when you are taken to the wonderland of old records. You feel as if you are introduced to the strangers– no one had heard by the names of those records!


In fine, in between the humor Hornby has succeeded in addressing to the serious issues that concern human beings, men in particular, the contents of the book sets you thinking and do a bit of introspection. It is easy to say that it is a guy book. But where are the guys without the relationship between the one or ones (!) whom they love? The men only books always kindle the curiosity of women and vice-versa. When women pamper men, they can perform much better. Every relationship needs the loving touch .God has created Adam and Eve to love each other. Women are known for their patience. Love your man for what he is and see what achievements he is capable of. Perhaps your man will sing–it is my heart but you control its beats. This is a strange property on which the owner (the man) is glad to lose rights.

The word ‘Vivaha’ (marriage) is beautifully composed. (It is the Sanskrit language word.) ‘Vaha’ means to flow. ‘Vi’ means harmoniously together. Therefore the word ‘Vivaha’ means to flow together harmoniously. Two different inpiduals, two different personalities bred, born and brought up in two different set of circumstances, try to come together from the day of marriage, to find a common identity, a common goal and to be precise a common all!

Laura and Robinson–do you listen? Thank you for your support!

References Cited:

1. Article: High [email protected] -Notes on differences between the book and the film

2. Book (as mentioned in page No.2 of this essay.)

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