Salmon Fishing In The Yemen

Posted on March 26th, 2012, by iMinerva

The premise is crazy – bringing salmon to the desert for fly fishing, a sport that unites men. As the sheik says, “You must have faith.” 

The story unfolds with political twists, private agendas, war intrique, improbable romance, personal awakenings, amazing engineering feats, hurdles overcome and the impossible, ultimately, becomes reality…like sending a man to Mars. 

I read the book and saw the movie and liked them both for different reasons.  The book recounts the story in personal written observations – emails, press releases, news stories, depositions – bringing different viewpoints of the salmon fishing challenge from various perspectives – the scientist, government, PR, business, metaphysical.  For me, this provided deeper character development and a stronger statement of government’s use of the situation for a purely political PR agenda – especially interesting to me as I’m in PR.  Story lines from the book also disappeared in the movie or were revamped.

The movie disappointed as my mind’s-eye (not sure exactly where that exists) had expected more elaborate cinematic elements.  Characters were not portrayed as fully as I had expected, yet the actors were well-suited for their roles.  Ewan McGregor was perfect as the uptight fisheries scientist and Emily Blunt brought a sparkle to the desert.  The Sheik, played by Amr Waked, was mesmerizing.  I would happily cross the desert for him.  I would guess the biggest challenge for the movie was in summarizing the story into two hours.  Obviously, cuts needed to be made.

For me, besides the Sheik, the movie excelled in the reconstructed ending to the adventure.  It offered hope and a future while the book was pessimistically fatalistic.  So, I guess if you must choose – book or movie – see the movie.  Then, if you need more, go to the book for more depth.

And definitely get a bottle of water before you go in.  The desert can be very hot and parched.


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