Favorite Books = Awful Movies

I just finished watching the screen “adaptation” of one of my favorite books, The Dark is Rising. It was horrible. I wanted to stab my eyes out after I realized how horrible it was. The screenwriter should be stripped of his membership in the Writer’s Guild, and quite possibly incarcerated for crimes against literature. (Where’s Thursday Next when you need her?)

I’ve basically decided that no one should ever be allowed to adapt my favorite books to movie format. They’ll just get it so terribly wrong.

The Dark is Rising sequence is one of my favorite books from childhood. I’ve read the books many many times, and they always thrill me. The story is a common one in the childhood fantasy genre… Young boy discovers he has powers. Boy is sent on a quest. Turns out failure in quest will result in the destruction of all that is good and right in the world. Boy doubts himself. It seems the wrong people will win, but at the last possible minute everything pulls together, and boy completes quest, saving us all. And defeating Evil or Voldemort or something.

The sequence is rooted in Welsh and Celtic mythology, and comes complete with a poem that guides the characters.

The movie, however, has none of these things. The quest was reduced to episodic happenstance, where the boy who will save us all, basically had to stop snivelling to succeed. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the tale of the good and bad in all of us turned into a moody teenage tale. There were two moments where the stupidity of the screenwriter stood out. The first, in a scene not even imagined in the book, Will, the Boy, distracts a Viking bent on killing his sister with a lucky ring of his wristwatch. (Really? The alarm just happened to be set to go off when the viking had his ax raised? At like 2:47 in the afternoon or something… Who sets their watch that randomly) The second involved a prize fighting chicken that had been taxidermied in 1690, and kept in the same pub for over 400 years, at which point it still looked as good as new.

The book would have made a great movie. It probably wouldn’t have competed with the likes of Harry Potter, but the sequence has potential as a valid fantasy offering to stand alongside The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Mr Potter. That of course relies on the screenwriter not completely destroying the soul of the book at his whim and burdening it down with stupid trivialities.

At least I know that Orson Scott Card will never allow Ender’s Game to become a crappy movie. At least, I hope so. Maybe I shouldn’t count that chicken before it hatches.

2 thoughts on “Favorite Books = Awful Movies”

  1. Fortunately, OSC has been very very involved with the Ender's Game movie. He wrote the initial screenplay (well, he's written it several times…), and according to his website, he's just turned in his best version. He believes that it will actually happen this time. (Fingers crossed)

  2. I've been trying to think of exceptions to this rule. Good adaptations: Stardust, Coraline, Atonement, the Muppets Christmas Carol, Pride and Prejudice. Except I wouldn't necessarily call any of these books favorites. And childhood favorites are sacred, whether they be picture books or chapter books. I often feel like they ruin the book for a whole generation of children. I'm afraid that Where the Wild Things Are is about to do that.

Comments are closed.