Monday, May 09, 2005

Next Best Thing?

In pretty recent news, the movie trailer for The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe has been made available online. Apparently, the trailer will air before the premier of the new Star Wars movie next week when that comes out. I'm pretty excited about this...


Ok, well, since you asked: here's what I mean.

What's a lover of letters to do?

After I calmed down from the adrenaline rush that was The Lord of the Rings trilogy, I took some personal time to go back and reread The Silmarillion. I had forgotten what an incredible experience it was to actually read Tolkien. The richness of the language, the beautiful imagery, the way he weaves storylines together. It's incomparable.

So, in short, I'm being that guy. I'm rehashing the old books vs. movie debate. This horse is dead, and really doesn't deserve to get beat again, but I have such a strong sense of ambivalence toward this new film that I have nowhere to go with it but my trusty old blog.

Proponents of the idea of adapting movies frombooks say that it brings new audiences to the authors' works, and introduces new generations to masterworks of fiction past in an exciting way that will gain them readership. I say bullocks. Most of my friends who have seen the LOTR trilogy would rather eat rat poison than read the books, and yet they rave about the cool CG fight scenes to no end. Even the more sensitive folk that I meet, who picked up on the Catholic symbolism in the plot of the movies aren't interested to see the fuller development of theology present in Tolkien's writings.

C.S. Lewis is a brilliant prose stylist. I'd put him up there in the top ten of the best writers of the 20th century, far ahead of Tolkien in terms of skills for the craft. His works drip with a brilliance of irony, humor, insight, and linguistic beauty that film could never capture. So how should I feel about this new movie? I'm really torn. The trailer looks awesome, and it will be neat to see Narnia brought to life on screen (in a realistic way, as opposed to the cheesy attempt from the BBC a few years ago.)

I hope to maybe spark discussion or at least consideration with this post, because it really does fill me with a swarm of conflicting emotions. In short, I'm not at all going to protest the movie. I'll go see it. And I'll be irritated the first time I see a new printing of the books with an ugly "now a major motion picture" sticker plastered over the author's name. And I'll look at the drooling children thrilled to see the mythical creatures come alive on screen who'll probably never make it past Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys and be jaded towards the idea of "leisure reading" long before high school, and I'll sigh...

That's what I'll do.


Anonymous bigsis said...

On one hand, it does kinda ruin a book once they make the movie... especially a great book. Why would future generations pick up printed pages when they could just rent (or download) the on-screen version? And poor, well-meaning English teachers are forevermore subjected to book/movie comparisons when all they want is a scrutiny of a text.

On the other hand, if you're inclined to read the book in the first place, you'll read it. If not, then I think the argument that the film versions bring new audiences to the author holds some water. Maybe not new audiences into bookstores, but at least to the author's basic ideas.

I, for one, was never interested in Tolkein. Sorry, but I liked my Nancy Drew, thankavurymuch. But hey, now I see maybe it wouldn't have been as boring as I'd feared and... well, I still won't read it, but I'll try to get it on my kids' reading list ;)

5/10/05, 11:54 PM  
Blogger Joey G. said...

Nancy Drew is fine when it doesn't end there. And in your case, I know that you moved onto better things.

But we were really blessed in our educational opportunities. I've spent all week reviewing and proofreading classmates' and underclassmen's papers for their English classes, and it's just been depressing. Some of these guys literally can't enjoy a work of literature. There are some who went through an entire semester simply getting synopses online and not reading a single selection for the entire course. I'm not blaming them, but there has to be something wrong in the system somewhere along the lines. Human beings should have at least some affinity for "humanities." The younger generations are reading Harry Potter, which is great, and there is a progression of literary complexity in that story. But a lot of modern "literature" has very little of a higherarchical design. There should be a pointing upward, a recognition of the classics. Anna Karena shouldn't need the endorsement of Oprah Winfrey in order to sell.

Well, anyway. I'll get off my soapbox.

5/11/05, 12:39 PM  
Blogger Paul, just this guy, you know? said...

I treat books and movies quite separately. The Harry Potter movies brought me to Harry Potter books, which are far superior; still it's fun to see the characters brought to life in that medium. I expect the same reaction to the new Narnia film.

Still, it is often a disappointment when a movie strays too far from the book it purports to be based on. But not always; I'd argue that the 1939 Wizard of Oz movie is a superior story to the original novel.

5/18/05, 12:59 PM  
Blogger nothing said...

I think you will find that if kids love a movie alot, they will then find the book and read it to "re-live" the experience. At least, my ratlings do that...thanks to recent movies, my ratlings have read The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Around the World in 80 Days (actually, they had already read alot of Jules Vernes books...), and although they have already read the Chronicles of Narnia, I bet you a hundred bucks they will re-read them after seeing the movie...which is a good thing, or otherwise I will have to buy the DVD and cope with them repeatedly watching the movie.

5/25/05, 9:46 PM  

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