Friday, October 05, 2007

Unfortunate Adaptations

I know I sad Writing Partner would tell his side of the story today, but he says he needs more time. Apparently starring in pizza commercials is taking up too much of his time.

In the meantime I wanted to talk about the new film opening this weekend, The Dark is Rising: The Seeker.

Remember when Bridge to Terabithia came out and everybody thought it was just a silly Narnia clone? Remember how people were surprised at how good it was? I did hope that's what was going on here.

Bridge to Terabithia was one of my favorite books as a kid.

The Dark is Rising series was more addictive to me than Narnia and Little House on the Prairie combined. And if you actually knew how often I read through those series you understand how intense my love for Susan Cooper's masterpieces is.

I should also mention that the only neighbors my age growing up were fundamentalist Christians and I wasn't allowed to watch TV, which is why I read obsessively and played alone with my dog and my imagination, all things that make me a better writer, but kind of a lonely kid. I want to see my favorite books done justice. Some weeks these characters were my best friends.

Anyway, as soon as I saw the ads for this film I was concerned. I feel like they're making it look like a Harry Potter clone, when the series is much older and darker and more adult than Harry Potter.

It's about a boy who discovers he's one of a handful of people born to stop evil from taking over the world. He does this through collecting talismans and traveling back and forth all over Europe and in and out of time. Good and evil and responsibility and sacrifice and betrayal and all kinds of good stuff.

It's very much in line with the hero's journey as you might expect, but oddly enough it also teaches some cultural and historical awareness along the way. For instance, The Grey King, one of the books in this series, taught me how to pronounce Welsh words properly. The name Lloyd, for instance? In Welsh it's pronounced "yo-ud". I bet you didn't know that.

Unfortunately, Rotten Tomatoes is not giving this film much hope, which is a damn shame. Maybe it's because John Hodge isn't used to writing for a younger audience. Maybe it's because most of David Cunninghams' work had been in television. Maybe the studio asked for stupid changes. I don't know. All I know is I wish I'd had a crack at it, not that I'd do any better than an academy award winning writer, but I do have a love for these books he may not share.

Every time a book I love gets butchered in film form I get so frustrated. And worried. There is one book that keeps flying around Hollywood that nobody seems to be able to get a clear idea about how to adapt. It's my very favorite book in the whole wide world and I want it so bad it's driving me batty. If they fuck it up I am going to be pissed, so I just hope they wait for me. Somebody gimme my book. I know how to adapt it. I could have adapted this one too, dammit.

That should be a rule in this town. If it's a classic story let the adaptation be done by someone who truly loved it. They'll know how to keep its essence pure.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this book so much. Cooper's an amazing writer, the world she creates is soooo cool. I remember back when I was in high school or something, I picked Over Sea, Under Stone to practice screenwriting form and adaptation and such. I got maybe a scene or two written, but it was true to the book.

    I was so excited when I saw they were making a movie about it. I was thinking high quality, like Narnia or something.

    I was distraught once I saw the trailer.

    Part of this is because I forgot which book they were adapting and I wondered where the heck they had put all the children (wrong book), but why it takes place in America and it should be in the 60s-70s not present day, etc. etc. And I just looked at Wikipedia and the things they say about not reading the books... I don't care if you're an actor or a screenwriter or a director, if you're doing an adaptation, you should read the books!

    America??? Part of the beauty of these books is the British setting. Now that it's set in America, it just seems like the industry's just turning another cheap fantasy trick.

    Whew, sorry this got on such a rant, but a very big part of me wants to cry. I'm not sure I'll be able to bring myself to go see these movies. Like you said, Em, let someone who loves the book adapt it. Poor Susan Cooper.



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