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Why I'm glad that purists are being denigrated - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Why I'm glad that purists are being denigrated
"Oh, everyone likes Jackson's LotR, except for a few nutty purists..." "While this is sure to annoy literal-minded purists, so-and-so's choice to change such-and-such is inspired..." "Other than purists, with their slavish devotion to the text..."

And so on.

I've been a purist all my life, but until the LotR flap, no one really bothered to complain about us. We might as well have not existed. Now, we're nutcases and "literal-minded" dunderheads.

It's progress. It means there are now enough of us not keeping our mouths shut like good little fangirls that they have to make some acknowledgment of our existence, even if it's just to say, "You know... them. They're not as bright as sophisticated as we are; there's just no pleasing them."

Not that it doesn't drive me plainly berserk, of course. Assuming that I don't agree with a philosophy because I just don't understand it and need to have it explained to me again is extremely condescending. I know the philosophy behind adaptations. I've been a movie fan all my life. I've also written and produced a regular drama at college, and done an under-the-table adaptation of a book with my high school drama club. I've also acted and studied storytelling. I'm well aware of the differences and similarities among different types of narrative art.

I also understand visual symbolism, and am intrigued by different ways of envisioning the same scenes. I love looking at different illustrations of the same characters, or seeing different actors play them, so I'm also driven to distraction by, "Well, G-d, they can't accept that it's not EXACTLY the way they saw it!" Well, no kidding! Who'd'a thunk? Of course no two people who read the same scene will visualize it in precisely the same way. That doesn't change the fact that they're reading the same scene.

So, yes, I'm bothered by the fact that reasonable purist objections are met with no answer but an insult to a competing philosophy. No one has yet been able to explain to me why, for instance, changing a rape scene to a seduction in Dracula was true to the "spirit" of the book... and I am open. I'll even start, by bringing up the question of the attraction of evil in Victorian society. (Though I'll argue with that by pointing out that the seduction of Lucy Westenra was directly contrasted with the rape of Mina Harker because the two women were different and were meant to be.) Instead, an objection like that is met with, "Well, you have to understand that movies and books are different media. Let me explain again, using small words..."

:headdesk:

Still, I'm not sorry to have this happening, simply because it means that more people have stopped being so enamored of having a movie made from a favorite book that they are willing to ignore things that make no logical sense. Like the response to fanfic Mary Sues who defy all canon logic and whose writers say "Use your imagination! It's fanfic!" as a defense, the response to silly changes to canon is starting to become quite pronounced. And that can only be a good thing for everyone.
33 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
ashtur From: ashtur Date: June 2nd, 2004 11:36 am (UTC) (Link)
As another purist (though certainly not a fangirl ^_~), let me say how much I agree with you. It's been great to actually find people who don't look at me askance for having issues with The Two Towers (the movie), and who are more than a bit nervous about PoA.
pauraque From: pauraque Date: June 2nd, 2004 12:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
On this subject, I agree with Roger Ebert, who once said that an adaptation is not a marriage, and being "unfaithful to the book" is not adultery.

Though I often enjoy movies made from books (and vice versa), I honestly don't care what sorts of changes the person doing the adapting makes; I only care whether the end result is a good book/movie on its own merits. Likewise, I don't get upset over the fandom "remix" challenges, or the Disney versions of fairy tales, or any other various sorts of adaptations. It doesn't change the source text.

However, it may change the way some people _view_ the source text, and that, I do care about. Movie fanon is sometimes harmless (costuming), and sometimes pernicious (Rickman!Snape). The examples I just gave are purely my opinion, of course -- some people think Rickman!Snape is canon enough, but go mad when they see striped scarves and ties in a fic.

Some fandoms deal with this sort of thing very differently from HP and LotR. X-Men fandom accepts both "comics canon" and "movie canon", and sometimes combines the two. I don't know enough about it to talk about the results, but it is an example of a source text and a radical adaptation coexisting peaceably.
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: June 2nd, 2004 12:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, it's worth noting that X-Men continuity is notoriously confused and existed in multiple variations (not all of them official alternate timelines, and not all of them internally consistent) in the first place. We're used to it. We're also pretty much utterly lacking in reverence for the "original creators," except occasionally for some individual favorites. This is partly because the writers and artists keep changing, and sometimes fans know a good deal more about the characters than the people currently being paid to develop them. (And sometimes, the people currently paid to develop them may know what they're doing and still do something stupid.)
pauraque From: pauraque Date: June 2nd, 2004 12:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
In that way, X-Men sounds more like a TV fandom. In X-Files, for example, some fans only accept canon up to a certain season, or ignore episodes written by particular people, or suchlike. LotR and HP may support more fervent canon-adherence because they were each written by one person.
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: June 2nd, 2004 12:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
...That said, I enjoyed the Lord of the Rings movies. And Shadows of the Empire. And on examining the League of Extraordinary Gentleman comics, I think I liked the movie better, although I have no dispute with the fact that the comics are more complex and less frivolous.

Fern may have to cut me dead over the first two. Darn.
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: June 2nd, 2004 06:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Fern may have to cut me dead over the first two. Darn.

...On reflection, this sounds unnervingly as if I wouldn't mind. I hope she doesn't, actually.
cheshyre From: cheshyre Date: June 2nd, 2004 12:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
an adaptation is not a marriage, and being "unfaithful to the book" is not adultery

In a college class on Old English, our professor shared an (acknowlegedly sexist) adage about translation, that seems to apply equally well to adaptations:
"Translations are like women: when they are beautiful they are rarely faithful, and when faithful, they are seldom beautiful."
I have seen a few books into film which manage to be both: The Princess Bride does quite well, partly because the author was also a screenwriter, and knew how to adapt it.

But, back to the notion of purism, not only didn't I see PB in the theaters, I tried to avoid all coverage of the film because I loved the book so much, I didn't think any movie could do it justice. [Keep in mind, this was only a couple years after Disney's The Black Cauldron was released. Hollywood didn't have a good track record as far as fantasy was concerned.]

But on the whole, adaptations are tradeoffs.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 2nd, 2004 12:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Translations are like women: when they are beautiful they are rarely faithful, and when faithful, they are seldom beautiful."

Actually, that works for me--I tend to have a lot of respect for the plain woman who remains faithful, and not much for the beautiful one who cheats, though I certainly can't argue with the fact that the latter tends to have more suitors.
From: hvaharu Date: June 4th, 2004 12:55 am (UTC) (Link)
"Translations are like women: when they are beautiful they are rarely faithful, and when faithful, they are seldom beautiful."

Actually, that works for me--I tend to have a lot of respect for the plain woman who remains faithful, and not much for the beautiful one who cheats, though I certainly can't argue with the fact that the latter tends to have more suitors.

I do not know how familiar you are with the process of translation, but it *is* true that faithful translations are horrible, faithful meaning word-for-word. I think the most important thing for a translator to realize is that we do not translate words, but meanings. The reader of the translation should have the feeling as if the text was written in the language he reads it in-- that's what many people miss, that knowledge of the target language is equally important as the knowledge of the source language.

To be able to do this, a translator should be a kind of writer too-- he only has to remember that his duty is to use his skill to convey the message of the original, not to create his own as long as the result is to be called a translation. Of course he has to be creative at his work, but he shouldn't try to be "better" as the writer.

I think the same can be applied to book-to-movie translations. A movie adaptation can be good even if it departs from the original (because movie is a different medium and departures are necessary if the movie is to work on its own and not to serve as a mere book illustration for those who read the book), but in this process it has to -- as we so often hear -- stay true to the spirit of the original.

That's what I find annoying about Jackson's movies-- that for the most part, they tell the story of LOTR on the most shallow level, the superhero and adventure level. I enjoyed watching them, and was even enthralled by parts of them, but nobody can say they know Tolkien if they just saw the movies... and it annoys me immensely if people tell me they don't have to read the books now, because they know what it's about. And if they even go as far as to say that people who read the books and dare to prefer them are weirdos who don't know what's good.

The same with HP movies: They are enjoyable on their own, but you won't learn what is so great about the books if you don't read them. And I've heard it for too many times from some people that it's redundant to read the books if they saw the movies... And if you ask them who Tom Riddle is, they DON'T KNOW. I mean. You know what I mean. :)

I'm not sure if I was able to convey the message... Sometimes I'm not too great translator of my own mind. :)))
From: hvaharu Date: June 4th, 2004 12:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Sorry for posting twice, but there was a typo that totally changed the meaning of what I wanted to say. ;)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 2nd, 2004 12:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think one of the differences between a series-based canon and a book based canon is that series-based canon really boils down to a "high concept"--superhero mutants, in a school. Man gets spidery superpowers. Etc. The concept is meant to be developed in new and different ways (I got into this a bit in my review of the New Battlestar Galactica), so going back to the drawing board and trying it from a different angle seems natural. Books, on the other hand, are a specific handling of a high concept--LotR is Tolkien's handling of "small and insignificant person takes on the great burdens of the world." What makes it itself is in the detail, in the things that are important to Tolkien. A different story could be made from the same high concept (and has been, many times), but it's not LotR.

My problem with the view of the world issue is a bit deeper than the scarves and such, which I think are cute, and Rickman, who I think is lovely (I like the whole cast, actually, of both HP and LotR). It's the concept that the movie somehow supercedes or "perfects" the book, hence the ubiquitous notion that Jackson "fixed all the problems" in Tolkien. And of course, with HP, I'm tearing at my hair because a mother of my acquaintance has told her son that he doesn't have to bother reading the books, since they're making movies anyway. (Isn't that some sort of legal definition of child abuse?)

Also, of course, I have an AU-writer's brain in my head, and when I see something changed in canon, I want to follow its logical consequences, not pretend that everything would have ended up in the same place anyway!
pauraque From: pauraque Date: June 2nd, 2004 12:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's the concept that the movie somehow supercedes or "perfects" the book, hence the ubiquitous notion that Jackson "fixed all the problems" in Tolkien.

Do people really think that? Who? I don't know anything about LotR (I found the books unreadable, saw the first movie and hated it), and while it's perfectly valid to prefer an adaptation over the original, it seems a bit ignorant to think an adaptation *fixes* the original, which of course it doesn't. No more than fanfic does.

As far as HP goes, I've never heard anyone suggest that the movies are canon, or should be considered more canon than the books. My problem is that people talk the talk, and then don't walk the walk -- they forget things about the book because it was different in the movie, or claim that something in the movie *was* exactly like the book.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 2nd, 2004 12:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have not, thank heaven, heard it with HP. But yes, people have said that Jackson "fixed" Tolkien's problem by developing characters (otherwise known as changing them into characters other than what they actually were), by changing the timeline, etc. Many of these are things that the Professor had addressed himself in his Letters, as things that were important to him for one reason or another. Sigh.
pauraque From: pauraque Date: June 2nd, 2004 12:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I don't know; maybe saying "this fixes that" is just a ham-handed way of saying "I liked the movies better", which is a sentiment I can't object to. There are certainly pieces of fanfiction that I found more enjoyable and/or plausible than their source material, even though they were very likely contrary to authorial intent.

The difference, I guess, is that an adaptation may present itself as "true to the book" or "the same story", but fanfiction rarely does. In actuality, they are both original works based on source material.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 2nd, 2004 12:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, though I demand that fanfiction adhere to canon, too (hence my objection to, say, Marauders fics that omit Peter because he's yucky). If I'm judging adaptations on the same basis I judge fanfic, I'd probably be harsher, since they are supposedly addressing canon events. If a fanfic writer addressed a canon event and randomly changed things without explanation or consequence, I'd probably post it on deleterius--"Yeah, uh-huh, except it was Neville in the Forbidden Forest, not Ron...!"--so seeing someone actually getting paid for it probably sticks in my craw a bit because it's exactly what we'd slam fanfic writers for getting wrong.
pauraque From: pauraque Date: June 2nd, 2004 01:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
But again, it depends entirely on the intent and how the work is presented. If I write a story that's presented as an AU where Peter doesn't exist, or Ron replaces Neville in the Forbidden Forest, then I doubt anyone would have a problem with it. Now, they may not *like* it, unless it adds something interesting to the story I'm telling (exploring the consequences of the Peter-doesn't-exist scenario, say), but people write bad AUs because they're bad writers, not because AUs are bad.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 2nd, 2004 01:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
I am an AU writer--probably the most popular story I've worked on was By the Grace of Lady Vader, which posited that Amidala lived and joined Vader in the Empire. The thing about an AU is, it has to connect to canon and make sensible changes based on the initial change. If Peter doesn't exist, why doesn't he exist? He can't just vanish. If Peter's not there, then the fact that he's not there should be the whole point of the story--what changed? And what changes because of it? Even if it's something simple (Peter killed on the way to King's Cross for his first day of school or somethng), look at how that change would effect the others.

What the movies tend to do is more akin to the junior high writer who omits Peter because he's yucky or BOOORRRINGG. There's no exploration of what's different with Neville not having been part of the Fluffy expedition, so his fighting with the others over another adventure comes out of left field--he hasn't been established as part of the plot. Instead, Neville just reverts to what he did in canon without reference to the fact that it would have changed if he hadn't been involved in the initial problem, he wouldn't have the personal impetus to be involved in the argument. And so on. (Must switch computers now...)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 2nd, 2004 02:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
(Continuing)

Now, I actually would find it very interesting to see an AU filmed, though I don't know how much of a market there would be for it. I think AUs are a fascinating way to study characters, and see why they do what they do by changing the circumstances around them. What's permanently part of their personalities? What's ephemeral and related only to specific plot events? How would their personalities play out if things had gone differently? (This is why I especially love SW AUs. The Classic situation is dependent on so many small things happening exactly the way they did that you can make radical changes by tweaking something very, very small--what if, in the meadow conversation, Padmé had asked Anakin where he was getting his political ideas? One line could have changed the history of the galaxy. We could explore Anakin's rage at Palpatine for trying to use him, rather than at the Jedi after Palpatine succeeds. And what about that rage? Any way to stop it? And so on. Playing with the night the Potters died is interesting, as well--Sirius could have made a lot of different choices, all of which would render a different world from canon. Which I find neat. But my mind is wandering now.)

The problem is that the movies aren't AU--they're attempting to be canon-compliant by not actually changing the world based on their changes. They're just making changes that seem to have no consequences.
pauraque From: pauraque Date: June 2nd, 2004 03:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
I saw the Sorceror's Stone movie before I read the book, and I didn't find that Neville's actions came out of left field. I did, however, wonder what Snape's deal was (the movie cut Dumbledore's explanation that Snape had hated James), which was part of what led me to read the book.

The bottom line, for me, is that whether an adaptation works is a matter of opinion. You and I may think stories that cut Peter out for "no reason" are dumb, but obviously some people do find entertainment in them, and I wouldn't begrudge them that. I don't think it's inherently "worse" than some other way of adapting the source material. It's all fiction, and people get to play with it however they like.

Also, anyone who says their adaptation IS THE STORY is just being silly. Peter Jackson's interpretation is no more or less valid than Jane Q. Fangirl, age 12. They're both fiction, and stand on their own merits (or lack thereof).
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 2nd, 2004 03:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah. There's the difference. I'm very judgmental on fanfic, and am perfectly happy with declaring a story that's plausible within canon to be better than one that is not. I was a critic in some other life. :p
(Deleted comment)
likeafox From: likeafox Date: June 2nd, 2004 01:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
I must say that people bashing canon purists bugs me too, not because I am one myself (I actually wanted them to change /more/ things in the Harry Potter movies, if you can believe it!) but because everyone is entitled to their opinion. It seems to me that saying "those nutty purists..." is a last resort argument of people who don't know how else to say they think the movie's are good, despite changes.

Personally, I love the Lord of the Rings movies. There /are/ changes I object strongly too *grumbleFaramirgrumble* but in the end I thought the movies were wonderful. I got chills during parts of Two Towers when I first saw it in the theater. That has been the only time in my life watching a movie has given me a similar reaction to reading the book it was about.

My personal opinion on making books into movies is that changes should be made. If the book is something I love, like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, nothing is EVER going to top it, movie or otherwise. I'd rather the movie be something in it's own right instead of just a shadow of the original.

Still, I'm not about to go bashing people because they disagree with me!

~Ella
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 2nd, 2004 02:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's appreciated, and despite my constant stream of arguments, I do accept that other people have different philosophies of translation/adaptation. I'd just like to see more of a representation from purists in the actual theaters... we got Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile (mostly), but it's not often that an attempt is made.
malabud From: malabud Date: June 2nd, 2004 02:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
I actually mused about book-to-movie adaptations recently in my journal. I guess I'm somewhat of a purist. I enjoyed the LotR movies, but cringed at quite a few of the changes. To quote my recent LJ entry:

I find myself both anticipating and dreading the PoA movie. Naturally, the movies won't give us the careful and painstaking characterization, plot development, and character growth that we get from the books. I've accepted that. However, I would hope that the movies would make an attempt at such important details. The movies do not need to be--indeed, they cannot be--completely faithful to the books. It is the spirit of the books I look for in the movies. (Giving Hermione Ron's important, character-building lines in a scene where Ron is still present is deviating from the spirit of the books, for instance.) Most of the time, I find that I like a book better than its movie adaptation. I have only two exceptions to that, which are The Princess Bride and E.T. Movies that I like nearly as well as the books are few and far between, but I would say only Pride and Prejudice, Seabiscuit, and Holes fall into that lofty category. For everything else, if I've read the book first, I like the book better. Of course, there are those movies which bear the name of the book, but whose plots have no discernible similarity to the those of the books. (I'm looking at you, Count of Monte Cristo!) These may be good movies, but they may as well be named something else for all the divergences from the book.

When I was traveling recently, I started chatting with a woman next to me. She said she had never read the Harry Potter books, and that she would not read them until all the movies came out, for fear that they would not be as good as the movies. I gaped at her for a moment, then exclaimed, "But the books are so much better!" She insisted that she did not want to ruin the movies by reading the books. Another lady I recently met said that she would not read the first three Harry Potter books. Instead, she will watch the first three movies and start reading with book four. (This reminded me, unfortunately, of my older sister and her husband, who decided to watch the first LotR movie when it first came out and then start reading the books with TTT instead of FotR.) I hope that the average fan of the Harry Potter movies are not like these women. I hope that the movies inspire more people to read the books, not fewer.


There is also what Lexicon Steve calls "movie contamination," when we see something in the movies and become convinced it's also in the books. Prime example, as cited in a comment above, who goes into the Forbidden Forest in the first book with Harry on detention? Well, it's not Ron. And that change hardly improved the movie, IMNSHO.

(I tend to get long-winded in my comments sometimes. Sorry!)
leeflower From: leeflower Date: June 2nd, 2004 02:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
When it comes down to it, to me, LoTR will always, always be the books. There is nothing in the world that pisses me off more than people who try to use the movies as an authority by which to judge the books. That's just dumb. That's as annoying as the twelve year olds who go around claiming that LotR and 'Timothy Hunter and the Books of Magic' stole from Rowling because they're too illiterate to check the publication dates.

But to me, it's just like Shakespeare. When I saw the Lerman version of Romeo and Juliet (Dicaprio and Danes version), I didn't think it was a terrible bastardization of the original. I thought it was a re-envisioning, the same way the Jackson version of LotR was, and I appreciated it and critiqued it on the basis of the directorial choices made in regards to the original material. I also tried to let it stand on its own feet.

What annoys me about such re-envisionings isn't that they exist; it's the people who treat them as better than the original. Because really when it comes down to it, they're fanfic with liscensing, and that's how they should be judged.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 2nd, 2004 02:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
I saw the DiCaprio and Danes version of R&J, and I think it was mostly pretty faithful--it just re-set it and changed swords for guns, which was a kind of funky surrealist illustration of the text but not a serious change. Except for the weird thing in the swimming pool. I didn't care for it, because part of Shakespeare is getting away from the everyday and mundane (it was in his time as well; his viewers certainly didn't live in Verona!). But as far as the text went, though I didn't have my book open, I think they mainly got the scenes and dialogue in, and it was spoken by the right characters. That's pretty much my criterion for "faithful"--lots of funky things you can do from there!

I enjoyed West Side Story, which is my idea of how to do an unfaithful adaptation--just call it "inspired by" and run.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 2nd, 2004 02:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
(This is true of a play. In a novel, the setting and details aren't the prerogative of the director, but of the writer, who runs the whole show. A play script, by its nature, is open to wacky visuals, usually quite deliberately. A novel comes with its set decorated.)
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 3rd, 2004 12:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
(click-over from mme ubiquity's journal, and got sucked in due to my insane Tolkien fanness)...
I like that. "fanfic with licensing". Ha! My attitude in watching the Peter Jackson films was a great interest in, basically, reading the book through someone else's eyes; what he loved (you can tell he loved Boromir more than the average reader, for example, and seemed to care for Faramir less...), where his imagination spun away from the book, what the eyes of the Weta folks saw in it. I'm way too steeped in my own imaginings of the book to have his vision take it over (with the possible exception of McKellen's excellent performance), but I found watching it to be an opportunity for a renaissance of my own view of the text, precisely *because* I read the damn thing so many times that it's becoming hard to get new meaning from it anymore. But add in another person, and yet more worlds of meaning open up. Peter Jackson was able to do this for me, I think, where other adaptations of other movies have failed (witness: HP& the sorceror's stone), because he is himself a poet. So yes, while I'm a purist, and some things about the movie ticked me off (how could they do that to Faramir? Where's Saruman's speech? Why aren't the hands of the king the hands of a healer anymore?), all in all, I found that it has added to my appreciation for Tolkien's story more than it has diminished it.

Tolkien had his flaws. Peter Jackson had different ones. I think that the behavior of Chris Tolkien and his estate has been slightly reprehensible, especially when, upon watching the movies, it becomes clear just how much these movies were a labor of love, and not of commercialism. Great stories take on a life of their own, and cannot be possessed, even though they can be copywrited. I think it might just be possible that there is a middle view-- that maybe Jackson's movie *does* heal some of Tolkien's flaws, and Tolkien takes care of Jackson's; that we are witnessing, as the professor once said he hoped, the birth of a new mythology, both for England, and (bonus!) for the rest of us.

The book is better. But the *story* is the thing.

(sorry this got so long-winded! I'm really passionate about Tolkien.)

~Lizzie O.
Somerville, MA
leeflower From: leeflower Date: June 3rd, 2004 01:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
spot on. I like a lot of what you're saying here.

I really do feel like it is a mythology. And just like the many incarnations of Arthurian legend can all be good or bad on their own while completly different from each other, different encarnations of the red book of westmarch will never change the original, or the love we feel for it.

I wonder, seven hundred years from now, if time will look on LotR as it now looks on that french romance that has become the fuel of so many imaginings.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 3rd, 2004 02:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Lizzie--
I'm also passionate about Tolkien, which is why I'm pretty much with Chris Tolkien on the subject--I thought the movies really were pretty crass commercialism. I just didn't see much love for the original in them... otherwise, they'd have followed it a bit more closely.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 3rd, 2004 02:23 pm (UTC) (Link)

chris tolkien

Well, there were undeniably commercial aspects; it was a major studio production. But I do think that Jackson's love came through it, at least for me. YMMV, and clearly did...

(The thing that Chris Tolkien specifically did that makes me think he's gone off the deep end was, evidently, to disown one of his sons for *seeing* the film. That's a bit harsh.)

I'd gotten the impression from your writing here that you *did* feel it was possible to make an adaptation, without closely following the text, which could be a work of art (ie West Side Story). IMO, that is what Jackson accomplished; in other words, more love of the original does not always mean closer fidelity to it. Or do you disagree with that statement? (Nonspecific to Tolkien here; obviously you did not like the movie, so you won't see love in it, I'm just wondering if you think loving the text and staying close to the text necessarily need to be connected.)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 3rd, 2004 02:56 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: chris tolkien

I think one could adapt a Biblical story with modern dialogue without being too much of a mess. There's the question also of changing symbolic idiom across the years (so that the question of Victorian mores about sex differing from our own could make for an adaptation of Dracula that more closely reflected the original intent than a word-for-word, though I don't think it's true in that particular case). Stand By Me wasn't perfectly faithful and it skipped some interesting introspection, but I think it was a reasonably good adaptation of The Body.

But mucking up basic plot points, ignoring the wishes of the author (who deliberately omitted most of the Arwen/Aragorn romance for structural reasons which he explained in his Letters), and misrepresenting major characters (not interpreting them differently, but actually RE-WRITING them differently than they were written)... that strikes me as being directly contrary to loving a book.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 3rd, 2004 03:04 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: chris tolkien

To continue on The Body/Stand By Me, I think there were two major mistakes in the adaptation--Gordie holding the gun instead of Chris and Teddy and Vern not dying (leaving Gordie the last survivor of the group). But I do defend the choice to put in Gordie's warm memories of Denny as opposed to the kind of vague ones in the story. The ones in the movie were very definitely of the worshipful little brother variety, which was what came out of Gordie in the novella. He said he didn't feel much more when Denny died than when Dan Blocker died, but Denny's death haunted him throughout the story, so you have to question his self-knowledge. Because even with the narrator, they couldn't get that kind of clarity in a dramatic medium, they had to "warm up" the two flashback scenes to let the audience become attached to this ghost that's haunting Gordie. And Wil Wheaton played the part (and was directed, I'd guess) with a distant touch right up until the last scene, which was faithful to Gordie's emotional distancing.
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