To be fair on me (and you should be) I blame Peter Jackson. He bucked the trend of lame literary adaptations in the most spectacular fashion. After “The Lord of the Rings” it seems less unreasonable to expect classic fantasies to make it to the screen more or less intact.
But… butbutbut… hang on. I was just talking about “The Lord of the Rings”. One of the most financially successful film trilogies in the history of history. A hit with both the critics and the paying public. You don’t get more mass-market than the Rings. Surely it set a precedent? Surely it proved that to sell tickets you don’t need to pander to an outdated
Before I get into the horror of imagining young Will Stanton on the pull, I want to try and crack this mystery. It has been proved categorically that you can make ultra-commercial cinema by a broad faithfulness to literary sources. Yet the same old tired mistakes continue to be made. Why, when you have an existing fan base that must total millions worldwide, do you start off by alienating the lot of them? Why, when they could be your greatest free marketing tool? (“Go and see this film! It’s based on this great book, here, borrow it, read it, then go and see it.”) But no, the enigmatic, introspective Will is replaced by a walking cliché, an American teen with a messed-up family and (oh the originality) girl problems. (Ain’t nothing wrong with Americans, of course, but I notice they’ve still got a Brit as the baddie. Could it get any more Epic Movie?) He has to be a teen, of course, because an 11-year-old protagonist might alienate that vast teenage audience (strangely this logic didn’t apply to Harry Potter). Also, if Will is 13, they can give him that all-important lurve-interest. Welcome to the final statement from the bankrupt
Oh, I’m sure the film will be great fun. I haven’t seen it and would love to be proved wrong. I’m sure that if it retains even a trace of the original Cooper mythology it will have something going for it, and, well, Christopher Ecclestone is always fantastic. I’m just puzzled, that’s all. Why take a classic novel, tear out its heart and replace it with canned spam? I suggest that some books, like many old buildings in the
p.s. The film rights to “The Cat Kin” are available if anyone wants ‘em.