Monday, May 19, 2008

The Chronicles of Rewrites

Prince Caspian opened on Friday, but I was busy all weekend with other engagements, so I didn't get to see it until today.

If you believe that Canon needs to be respected at all costs, even to the detriment of the movie adaptation, you might want to sit this one out. Wardrobe was merely tweaked in a few places to add tension, but parts of this were rearranged, run together, and in a few places, written completely from scratch.

A few years ago I finally decided that this was ok, even desired, in order to make a good book into a good movie. "But Fuzzy," you might protest, "aren't you worried that Hollywood will turn our beloved classics into bastardized mockeries of themselves without close adherence to the author's original vision?" Sure, that's always a risk, but take the example of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

If you read the books, think about how long and detailed they were. How many pages were filled with hobbits crawling around through dark caves, marching through forests, and just generally doing mundane stuff. Imagine if all of that was transposed into a script. The LotR trilogy was long enough without of the drudgery of the journey. They cut out most of the ending of Return of the King and it was still good... and three hours.

Imaging converting a +600 page tome into a watchable flick that has to go under three hours. Any longer than that while sitting in a theater with a 44oz Cherry Coke in one's bladder , and even the best Book-to-Movie attempts just seem like they drag on. That's why things like Wurthering Heights and Shogun get turned into mini-series.

One of my friends always believed that Caspian was the most boring of the books. I couldn't understand why until tonight. For the first 15 minutes or so I was balking at all the things that got cut or changed. Eventually, I noticed the things that were removed wouldn't make the transition to the screen very well. Even though I enjoyed the book, I now remember the first time I read it, I skipped over several pages of the usual filler: Walking around in a forest for a long time, Councils of War which were eavesdropped on from the next room, dinking about on a runined island for a while. It's one thing to read them, but there's no need to put that humdrum in the movie unless you're intentionally giving the crowd an intermission to use the restroom.

Some of the good/important stuff also has to go, too. The history of Caspian's upbringing and tutelage could easily pack on another hour on what is already 150 minutes. The timeline is kind of... condensed for it all to fit.

My only real complaint is that they didn't cut out some of it cleanly. If your going to refer to Trumpkin as the D.L.F., you need to put in the scene where that nickname is earned, otherwise cut it completly. This happens with a few other small details that fans of the series will notice.

But the writting and casting of Reepicheep was well done (Eddie Izzard!?) and made a lovable personallity from what could have easily turned into the most obnoxious character if the book was to be followed too closely.

You go see. Now!

1 comment:

Laedelas Greenleaf said...

I haven't seen it yet. I expect to mourn when I do see it. I expect I shall slap some parents upside the head if I discover they let their children watch the movie before reading the book. But I will probably go see it anyway. Why? Reepicheep. I love that mouse. And Eddie Izzard has the potentiality to pull off the character like he was born for it.