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December 16, 2004 7:53 AM   Subscribe

A Whitewashed Earthsea: Perhaps topping Harlan Ellison's beef about City on the Edge of Forever, Ursula K. LeGuin expands a post on her Web site ("Had 'Miss Le Guin' been honestly asked to be involved in the planning of the film, she might have discussed with the film-makers what the books are about") into a rant on Slate trashing the Sci-Fi channel's adaptation. Things seem to have gone a bit downhill since March.
posted by soyjoy (88 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Ugh. I've got miniseries Tivo'd right now, and was going to get to watching them this weekend, but combined with everything else I've read about them, maybe I just won't bother....
posted by LairBob at 8:09 AM on December 16, 2004


I watched it. It was bad. Bad. In one scene, a character referred to "one of my successors" when she meant "predecessors." The dialogue...the acting...bad.
posted by rushmc at 8:14 AM on December 16, 2004


I was kind of excited to see the mini-series. Having never read the books, I didn't know what to expect. The mini-series left me with the feeling that they had left out a LOT of story and the resolution of the story seemed ham fisted...

Even before reading this article, I had resolved to get a hold of these books and read them. This only makes me want to read them even more.
posted by pemdasi at 8:18 AM on December 16, 2004


rushmc: thanks, I'm deleting it from my TiVo now...
posted by e40 at 8:21 AM on December 16, 2004


I'm glad I steered clear of this. I was thinking of watching it, but caught some of the bad reviews and decided that it wasn't worth it. It is too bad, the books were wonderful.
posted by gnat at 8:22 AM on December 16, 2004


There's a longer version of LeGuin's Slate essay here. It's called Earthsea in Clorox -- ouch.

(Found on Neil Gaiman's blog.)
posted by plasticpool at 8:25 AM on December 16, 2004


What leaves me less than fully sympathetic to Ms. LeGuin (and BTW, I'm much less than fully sympathetic to Harlan Ellison, who was writing for already-established characters that he tried to stretch beyond recognition) is this, at the crux of her problem:

When I sold the rights to Earthsea a few years ago, my contract gave me the standard status of "consultant"—which means whatever the producers want it to mean, almost always little or nothing. My agency could not improve this clause.

Well, if they couldn't improve it, then you shouldn't have sold the rights. Period. Nobody could force you to sell the rights to your own books, and if it was "a few years ago" (rather than, say, when they first came out a few decades ago) you could certainly have waited and gotten a better deal elsewhere - and if William Morris was playing hardball with you, I'm sure there would be another agency willing to take you on. The part about being hoodwinked by the producers' assurances is sad and telling, but come on. You've been around the block - was it really all that shocking that TV producers would turn something fine and complex into LCD dreck?

That said, she does provide a pretty good, detailed look at how mainstream media's values succeed in co-opting everything they touch. And thanks for that expanded link I missed, plasticpool. ("It's like casting Eminem as Jim in Huckleberry Finn.")
posted by soyjoy at 8:32 AM on December 16, 2004


I decided never to see this as soon as I saw a commercial for it and saw that the main characters were white. I'm not normally a total stickler for that kind of thing, but it made it painfully obvious that 1) LeGuin had no creative control or input whatsoever, and 2) the people who did have creative control and input hadn't bothered to read the books very closely. If it all. Feh.

(Incidentally, anyone else here think that the initial Earthsea trilogy was brilliant, but the three or so books she's set in the world since then have been absolutely horrible? In over-correcting for the fantasy-typical sexism she put in the first three books, she lapsed into boring dogma. I think LeGuin's really fallen off as a writer recently, which saddens me, since she was one of the greatest of her generation. "The Dispossessed", "The Left Hand of Darkness", and even "The Lathe of Heaven" are brilliant, brilliant books.)
posted by kyrademon at 8:38 AM on December 16, 2004


Digressing slightly, I heard that Sci-Fi intend to adapt Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars. Not only is it a superb book, but it is also impossible to overstate how influential that book has been on me and my life. I thought that since their adaptations of Dune were 'OK' then maybe they might do a good job on Red Mars, but judging by Earthsea, I am not optimistic at all. Grr...
posted by adrianhon at 8:40 AM on December 16, 2004


Ugh, I cannot believe they made Ged white. When I first read these books when I was a teenager I didn't even notice the people's colors until the Tombs of Atuan when it became obvious that Tenar was white in contrast with Ged. I then went back and re-read the first one with this new appreciation. I think that the way that Le Guin made race an issue by making it a non-issue was fantastic.

I have read these books dozens of times over the years, and when I heard about a miniseries I had a lot of hopes. It looks like they've been crushed.

I agree somewhat with soyjoy that Le Guin probably shouldn't have sold the rights without more creative control, but it seems clear that she thought her work would get a more respectful treatment than it did.

How cliche is it that they turned everyone white? How sad.
posted by Jupiter Jones at 8:42 AM on December 16, 2004


Nobody could force you to sell the rights to your own books

success of lord of the rings + ego. i watched about 15 minutes on monday and it failed to impress. the original books are excellent. Dispossessed is excellent too.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:43 AM on December 16, 2004


I TiVoed this and tried twice to watch it this week. It just wasn't good enough for me to stay with it for more than 15 minutes either time.

Also, somewhat like soyjoy, I didn't particularly like Ms. LeGuin's essay. I understand her frustration, but she did sell the rights and it now seems like, having seen the finished product, she wants to disassociate herself from it. But on the other hand, if more writers start outing the producers who mangle their stories when adapting them for the screen, perhaps producers will make more of an effort to maintain the essence of the story they've bought.
posted by HiddenInput at 8:45 AM on December 16, 2004


I figured I would give it a try since it's got Isabella Rossalini and SciFi recently dissipated some of my hatred of them by showing Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars (which was, of course, only necessary because they cancelled the original ... don't get me started) Anyway, it seemed really low rent, like one of the bad 80's Dungeons and Dragons rip-offs. I know that Ursula writes some great stuff and I was hoping that the plot would shine through, but all-in-all I couldn't watch more that 45 minutes and finally gave up on it.

on preview: I agree with krademon about "The Left Hand of Darkness" and "Lathe of Heaven", and a few others, brilliant, although I never read any of the Earthsea series - like I said, this version will probably scare some potential readers away from what is probably a good series.
posted by milovoo at 8:46 AM on December 16, 2004


I think it's a good thing she didn't have any creative control over the movie. When writer's do (countless Stephen King turd movies) it tends to become worse than when they don't (Kubrick's the Shining). Writers know how to write books, not make movies. Two very different artistic processes. Of course, when they have no input it can become crappy anyway, but then at least it's not their fault (LeGuin, Alan Moore, Tolkien, etc).
posted by Panfilo at 8:52 AM on December 16, 2004


Le Guin's blog post is pretty damning for the movie. When the director talks about the "great duality of spirituality versus paganism" and adds, "the only thing that saves this Earthsea universe is the union of those two beliefs", it really sounds like he's talking out of his ass.

Le Guin's Slate article (and, on preview, the Clorox essay and several posters here on race) I found less convincing. So the race of the characters in the series doesn't match the races in the book. Well, I 've read those books more times than I care to admit, and race didn't seem that important to me. The characters seem too sketchy and fairy-tale-like for them to be really fleshed-out, so to speak. And maybe 'cause I'm a white guy and Le Guin is a white woman I tended to visualize Ged as a white guy. Anyway race seemed like hair color: it just didn't matter. Anyway, despite what UKLG says, having a white guy play Ged doesn't seem all that bad. Having him look like Frodo does, though.

The scifi.com site has an interesting video of Ursula Le Guin talking about her book (and made to look as if she's talking about the movie). The spliced-in film excerpts look not so good, pretty generic, in the Harry Potter mode, bah!

PS: I disliked the Lord of the Rings movies, too, though I wanted to like them. Reading a book a dozens of times will make you a fanatic...
posted by Turtle at 8:58 AM on December 16, 2004


I don't understand why Ms. LeGuin has put up with this. She is, without doubt, one of the best sci-fi/fantasy writers ever, and has had that status for almost 40 years now (since LHoD at least). If the producers were not willing to let her guide the creative process, she should have flat out refused. Moreover, I think LeGuin owes it to the admirers of her work to personally oversee a full-scale film production of the Earthsea trilogy (possibly with an expanded and reworked plot, since the subtle dynamics of the book do not translate well on screen unaltered - but not this kind of mutilation of course). For that purpose, she could hire a consultant who would educate and guide her about film production and creative process, and then, after an extended search, secure a contract with a major studio willing to put in the resources necessary to make this a good film and to let her have a major and final say in the selection of cast, scripting, and acting (after being thoroughly acquainted with the process). She deserves it.

I have the deepest respect for LeGuin, but I think her lack of ambition in this matter is harming the reputation of her work as some of the most humane and thoughtful sci-fi ever written.

On preview, Panfilo: I would definitely trust LeGuin more than anyone else to translate her books on screen. She shouldn't do it alone with no feedback, but the attention and knowledge required to interpret Earthsea's subtle themes are best drawn by the author herself, as amply illustrated by this trainwreck of an adaptation.
posted by azazello at 9:03 AM on December 16, 2004


Oh yeah, maybe I visualized Ged as white because the cover illustrations had white people on them (the first two anyway): 1 2 3
posted by Turtle at 9:09 AM on December 16, 2004


Well the movie did have one good point- the books are enjoying a massive surge in popularity. At the library I work for, we can hardly keep them on the shelves. I noticed that bookstores are really promoting them too.

I haven't heard much about the series. I didn't even plan on watching it because I haven't read the books yet. They're on top of my list though, so once I get through those I'll seek out the movie.

I don't pay any attention to critics or other's opinions, even the author's. While it doesn't bode well for the film if she's against it, to hear people talk, O'Brian would have hated Master and Commander. Meanwhile a lot of people seemed to like the flick regardless. I always take a movie at face value. I understand that it's based off a novel rather than based on. As cool as the Lord of the Rings movies are, they still left stuff out. I even liked David Lynch's adaptation of Dune. Sure it left a lot to be desired if you compared it directly to the book. But I still think that, if you let it stand on its own, it works out pretty well. Besides, you have to expect certain things from a David Lynch film. And I think you have to expect certain things from any film based off a book.
posted by GreatWesternDragon at 9:14 AM on December 16, 2004


Turtle - for me, it wasn't so much that I thought the show would be bad because Ged was white per se; it was that, since they made Ged white, I was pretty darn sure that they'd screwed with the book in so many other respects as well that it didn't stand a chance.

And the cover illustrations on those versions always annoyed me, too.

I think people aren't being quite fair to LeGuin here by saying she shouldn't have sold it if she didn't want creative control, and she shouldn't complain now if she did and they screwed it up. How many of you would turn someone down if they told you they wanted to make something you wrote into a movie, and assured you they'd be true to what you wrote? And, while you'd probably expect they'd change it, and wouldn't be surprised if it was for the worse, wouldn't you be justifiably appalled if they made such an utter balls-up unrecognizable mess of the thing that you could barely see your story in it other than the names of the characters and a few of the events? Wouldn't you want to let the world know, "This isn't what I wrote!"?
posted by kyrademon at 9:23 AM on December 16, 2004 [1 favorite]


In fairness to the author, it sounds like the producers played a bait-and-switch: they mentioned Philippa Boyen as the screenwriter then swapped in a cluster of hacks after Le Guin signed on. Her fault, if there is one, seems more one of naivete than casual indifference to her work.

And Le Guin doesn't owe us anything---she's said what she wanted to say in the first three books, and indeed has revised her view of Earthsea in Tehanu and The Other Wind (for the better in my opinion). I don't think she must add a dramatic translation of her work, especially if she doesn't feel it warranted, or that she could do it justice. Indeed, she may be doing us a favour by not doing so.
posted by bonehead at 9:24 AM on December 16, 2004


GreatWesternDragon - true enough, and I didn't like the first two Harry Potter movies all that much in part because they were *too* slavishly devoted to putting every minor plot point in the books on screen, but . . . there are good adaptations and bad adaptations. There are good changes and bad changes. And also, while a movie needs to be different from a book, if you jettison everything important about the book, why bother basing it off the book in the first place?
posted by kyrademon at 9:35 AM on December 16, 2004


I feel quite ambivalent about movie adaptations of books even without the pounding this particular show is getting. Just so long as nobody messes with The Dispossessed, which is my absolute favorite. The Earthsea trilogy was good, but not to the same level. I just read it for the first time recently, so maybe it's impossible to expect it'd have the same effect now as it must have in the context when it first came out. I avoided it as a child and teenager because it had sort of a 'young-adult' feel to me - one step beyond Anne McCaffrey, I think - and I was busy reading the SF that my father was reading. H. Beam Piper, anyone? Now that I'm pushing 40, of course, I read YA fiction quite a bit.

Making movies from books, though - I don't know. I'd like to think she could have made it better than it seems to have turned out. It's a director's art, though, so who knows. Occasionally the movie even ends up being better than the book - can't think of a science fiction example, but The Hours comes to mind.
posted by expialidocious at 9:35 AM on December 16, 2004


That mini-series was bad bad bad. Mystery Science Theater fodder bad. I couldn't tear myself away.

But there's always hope that the "Left Hand of Darkness" video game!


SciFi films are generally bad anyway. Their Dune adaptation, while at moments better than Lynch's, was impossible to follow at times if you hadn't read the series. They do better with cheesy crap like this.
posted by eyeballkid at 9:37 AM on December 16, 2004


"I have the deepest respect for LeGuin, but I think her lack of ambition in this matter is harming the reputation of her work as some of the most humane and thoughtful sci-fi ever written."

This presumes that a miniseries has the sort of longevity in the public mind as a movie, which I don't suspect it does; outside of Roots (or possibly Shogun) there's not a miniseries that compares to the cultural significance of even a mid-range successful flick, and a Sci-Fi Channel miniseries would have commensurately less influence, since it's already address a specific cable audience as opposed to a general over-the-air broadcast audience.

To summarize: The influence of the Earthsea miniseries on the overall perception of LeGuin's books is likely going to be immeasurably smaller than the influence of the LoTR films on those books, or even of the I, Robot movie on Asimov's collection of the same name.
posted by jscalzi at 9:40 AM on December 16, 2004


one more nit to pick here ... why do they insist on calling it a "mini series" when they air the thing all on one night?
A series would imply that you see small bits of the story over a series of nights. A series is not a marathon 4 hour viewing of all the content.
Then again, I don't have confinence in a comany that will dump it's best series *cough* farscape *cough* so that they can churn out crappy "made for sci-fi" movies that nobody wants to watch after they've seen part of one.

Not having read the books this "mini series" was based on, all I can say is that this production was a notch better than the made for sci-fi garbage, but not much. Throw in some battle droids and a gungan or two and could have been a star wars flick.
posted by Dillenger69 at 9:48 AM on December 16, 2004


...for the "Left Hand of Darkness" video game...
posted by eyeballkid at 9:49 AM on December 16, 2004


On kind of a separate note, as someone who is a avid reader of fantasy novels, I was always waiting for that first great fantasy movie. I think LOTR did a good job providing this. However, now I am worried that crap like Earthsea will flood the market and make people look down on the genre as a whole.

I did watch Earthsea, much for the same reason as someone mentioned above. It was like watching a train wreck and I couldn't look away. It was amazing, because even though there was a hint of a plot, you couldn't really trace any of the details.

Also, authors, even successful ones like LeGuin, are not extremely wealthy. I can understand her wanting to sell the rights. However, the point is, once you have sold the rights, the producers can do what they want. This is why most successful authors, either demand more control, or decide not to sell.
posted by bove at 9:51 AM on December 16, 2004


I agree somewhat with soyjoy that Le Guin probably shouldn't have sold the rights without more creative control

I think a lot of people in this thread (and in general) simply don't grok how the movie industry works. You simply can't get creative control over a film made from your book. I don't care how famous a writer you are or how good your agent is, you can't. Unless you make it yourself in some low-budget fashion, but who's going to do that (and with sf, how good would it be if you did?

You think Earthsea/LeGuin is popular and should have weight at the bargaining table? Ender's Game is manyfold more popular, and following the efforts to get it made into a film (on Orson Scott Card's website and elsewhere) is an extremely depressing proposition. You can see your hope turn to ash right before your eyes. And, interestingly, you can watch Card try to justify all the changes (mostly to himself) and believe that it hasn't been utterly crapified (which it pretty clearly has...and it's not even in production yet).
posted by rushmc at 9:54 AM on December 16, 2004


why do they insist on calling it a "mini series" when they air the thing all on one night?

It originally aired in 2-hr segments over two nights. They are re-running it on Sunday all together.

I agree that a 2-parter does not a proper mini-series make, however.
posted by rushmc at 9:56 AM on December 16, 2004


While I sympathize with LeGuin, who obviously places great store in the racial makeup of her dramatis personae, I have to say that I received these books as a gift when they were first released in paperback, read them religiously every year or so until at least college - and I never once realized that Ged wasn't white... It's completely unimportant to the actual story, no matter how important it is to the author. LeGuin should have reserved her fiercest scorn for the ham-handed hacks who turned her coherent and balanced story into an unrecognizable mess of sword-n-sorcery cliches. I TiVo'd the whole thing but lasted only 20 minutes into the first part before deleting the whole wretched mess.
posted by JollyWanker at 9:59 AM on December 16, 2004


LOTR will probably result in a flood of crappy imitative fantasy movies, both expensive and cheap, the same way Star Wars resulted in a flood of crappy imitative science fiction movies, both expensive and cheap (anyone else here seen Starcrash?)

Better, non-imitative fantasy will start being made again eventually. Heck, we're finally seeing some kickass soft science fiction movies that don't have droids and spaceships and laser gun battles - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, for example.
posted by kyrademon at 9:59 AM on December 16, 2004


outside of Roots (or possibly Shogun) there's not a miniseries that compares to the cultural significance of even a mid-range successful flick

those two, of course, and V, The Thornbirds, and Angels in America ... off the top of my head. i think that if a TV miniseries is high quality, it becomes more culturally significant than a movie. i'm sure there must be others ...

The Earthsea trilogy was good, but not to the same level. I just read it for the first time recently ... I avoided it as a child and teenager because it had sort of a 'young-adult' feel to me - one step beyond Anne McCaffrey, I think ... Now that I'm pushing 40, of course, I read YA fiction quite a bit.

the Earthsea books are best suited for teens or pre-teens, i think. yes, a great alternative to McCaffrey. i read them when i was quite young - i would recommend them to that age group. why do you read YA titles now but not then?
posted by mrgrimm at 10:02 AM on December 16, 2004


we killed poor Ms. LeGuin's site, btw.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:04 AM on December 16, 2004


I was rather disappointed by the miniseries, so I'm glad to see I'm in good company in that opinion. Although it probably doesn't actually harm the story that much, I found it particularly grating that they had reversed Ged's true name and his use name.

The conflating of the two books didn't really work for me either. They're two separate stories, and mixing the events just results in a rather confused jumble, I thought. A Wizard of Earthsea was an assigned book when I was a freshman in high school. Shortly thereafter, I sought out the other two books in the original trilogy on my own. I was surprised--but pleasantly so, in the end--when Ged doesn't even turn up until about 2/3 of the way into The Tombs of Atuan. Tenar has her own fascinating story, which we see little of in the miniseries.

I can't fault LeGuin too much for her naïveté about just what the producers could do to her book--partly because the only other screen adaptations of her work I'm aware of are the two versions of The Lathe of Heaven. And the first one, although low-budget, was pretty true to the book both in plot and in theme. The second, although not as close to the book in either, was still decent. So she wouldn't know from her previous experiences just how much they could screw with her story.

In over-correcting for the fantasy-typical sexism she put in the first three books, she lapsed into boring dogma.

She does get a bit anvilicious at a few points in Tehanu and Tales from Earthsea, but not so much as to seriously detract from the books, IMO. I'm not seeing as much beat-the-reader-over-the-head-with-gender-issues in The Other Wind, which I'm currently about 2/3 of the way through.

On preview:

one more nit to pick here ... why do they insist on calling it a "mini series" when they air the thing all on one night?

In fairness, they did air part 1 only on Monday night. On Tuesday, they repeated part 1 then followed it with part 2. I have a lot of problems with the miniseries, but calling it a "miniseries" isn't one of them.

Ender's Game is manyfold more popular, and following the efforts to get it made into a film (on Orson Scott Card's website and elsewhere) is an extremely depressing proposition. You can see your hope turn to ash right before your eyes.

I haven't been following the efforts at all, but I can already guess: they're making Ender and the other children in Battle School a lot older than they were in the book, right? Because the average moviegoer doesn't want to see 6- and 7-year olds as cruel to each other as the kids in the book sometimes are. But by making Ender and the other kids 13 or so, they'll lessen the impact of that cruelty.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:04 AM on December 16, 2004


I must add my unhappiness to the above. From Farmer's Riverworld abomination, to the re-hacking of Galactica, to Earthsea and it's obvious racism, SciFi and the writers of the above "adaptations" are pure poo.

These stories have great depth and subtle meaning and have meant so much to those of us that grew-up hoping for the kind of goodness and justice the stories proposed.

These modern myths, our stories, giving us heroes and notions of rightness and purpose, are precious. More than ever before, I feel as though the the dumming down that I have been seeing for decades has finally passed it's tipping-point.
posted by johnj at 10:06 AM on December 16, 2004


Occasionally the movie even ends up being better than the book - can't think of a science fiction example...
expialidocious at 9:35 AM PST on December 16
Actually, 'Blade Runner' is a good example. It would have been nice to see Deckard's mechanical ewe and his nagging wife, but on the whole, David Webb People's and Ridley Scott did a pretty good job.
posted by vhsiv at 10:15 AM on December 16, 2004


mrgrimm: I didn't read YA books as a teenager because I was a hopeless literary snob. (I've completely recovered, of course!) In high school I read things like Mrs Dalloway - which I still love - and the aforementioned father's science fiction - not all of which has aged as well.

Now I read YA fiction because: I used to work in a bookstore as a buyer, and I had to; I have a kid, and am reading it out loud to her or seeing what's available as she gets older; and, you can find a lot of good stuff written for that age group and younger. For example, the Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel and the George and Martha books by James Marshall are aimed at preschoolers and beginning readers, but really, they're quite funny for adults too.
posted by expialidocious at 10:19 AM on December 16, 2004


I liked the movie 2010: Oddyssey Two better than the book.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:19 AM on December 16, 2004


er, Odyssey. That word looks wrong no matter how I spell it.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:20 AM on December 16, 2004


I think it's also interesting to note that LeGuin didn't say anything until Halmi started making claims about what *LeGuin* thought the books were about. She was willing to write this off as a crappy waste of time until words started getting put in her mouth, at which point she got pissed.

With reason.
posted by kyrademon at 10:20 AM on December 16, 2004


azazello wrote:
For that purpose, she could hire a consultant who would educate and guide her about film production and creative process, and then, after an extended search, secure a contract with a major studio willing to put in the resources necessary to make this a good film and to let her have a major and final say in the selection of cast, scripting, and acting (after being thoroughly acquainted with the process).

The trouble with this line of logic is that she's already pretty familiar with the process -- if you read the Earthsea in Clorox essay she mentions that she'd already developed screenplays for the first two books. She's extremely educated about her rights as an author, and she appears to have pretty strong opinions about what she would like (and what she was expecting) her level of involvement to be. She isn't ignorant of how the visual-media industry works. This is a project that the SciFi Channel worked to shut her out of, despite her willingness to contribute on a consultation basis, and it's unfortunate in that it both disappoints readers familiar with the work, and sets up an incorrect expectation for people who might read the book once they see the miniseries.

azazello also wrote:
I have the deepest respect for LeGuin, but I think her lack of ambition in this matter is harming the reputation of her work as some of the most humane and thoughtful sci-fi ever written.

Wow. I fail to see how her "lack of ambition" (what do you mean exactly) in this manner of a crappy tv miniseries has anything to do with the remainder of her body of work. Even her more recent books, while they might not be "as good as" her earlier work, are exceedingly humane and thoughtful works of science fiction and fantasy that are written in a wonderful style with strong prose, and a voice that is most assuredly LeGuin's voice.

It's really too bad about this miniseries, but maybe it'll spark some important discussions of race in the Sf/F world (both literary and film based).
posted by dryad at 10:22 AM on December 16, 2004


DevilsAdvocate, that and they're kledging Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow to form the movie.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:26 AM on December 16, 2004


DevilsAdvocate wrote:
So she wouldn't know from her previous experiences just how much they could screw with her story.

Not to press the issue too much, but... for crying out loud. She doesn't live in some remote mountain cave. She likes films, she sees film adaptations of books -- I don't think it's any big surprise to her that producers of films more-often-than-not screw with the source material. In fact, again, if you read her essay, she speaks to this point. She understands that changes have to be made in order to port the story from one medium to another, but requested that the producers of Earthsea make no "unnecessary" changes.

I don't really think that it's fair to have this discussion and act as if LeGuin is some naive newbie writer who doesn't know how the industry (film or literary) works. Especially when the links provided contain statements from LeGuin herself that indicate the opposite.

Just as an aside -- I'm not crazy about The Other Wind but I loved Tehanu. The more recent Earthsea books are, to me, a continuing philosophical discussion. The relationship between Ged & Tenar in these books is touching and fascinating. It's a history of their lives, and to expect the world to stay static around the, (or to expect their understanding of that world to remain static) is unrealistic.

Lastly, I think it's terrible that the script-writers mixed up Ged's use name and his true name. If Earthsea teaches you anything, it's that language -- specifically names -- has power.

kyrademon: She was willing to write this off as a crappy waste of time until words started getting put in her mouth, at which point she got pissed.

Exactly.
posted by dryad at 10:31 AM on December 16, 2004


"lack of ambition" (what do you mean exactly)

Her lack of ambition (willingness to submit to crappy editing and unwillingness to seek a top-notch deal to create an adaptation) is hurting the reputation (popular perception) of her work. Note that I didn't say anything about the actual value of her books from any period. LeGuin's novels are unique and stand head and shoulders above almost all sci-fi and fantasy on many respects.

You simply can't get creative control over a film made from your book.

I don't believe it.

Approach directors privately until you round up some interested ones. Approach producers. Approach artists whose work you admire. Ask them to create a concept. In fact, with a few strong personae secured this way, it's pretty improbable that a major studio won't be interested in producing your work.
posted by azazello at 10:44 AM on December 16, 2004


Lastly, I think it's terrible that the script-writers mixed up Ged's use name and his true name. If Earthsea teaches you anything, it's that language -- specifically names -- has power.
posted by dryad

Well, it may just be me, but if I was an actor hired to perform one of these roles on screen, and getting paid tens of thousands of ducats for my performance, I'd go out and seek the original source material. But then again, I'm just a prole, so I tend to think about things in an unvarnished kind of way...

Mr. Glover should have known better, unless he was under specific instructions from the Director NOT to.

And on preview, azazello, that's why many writers like David Koepp, Oliver Stone and Quentin Tatrantino become Directors - to protect their screenplays...
posted by vhsiv at 10:48 AM on December 16, 2004


Ursula Leguin was a mentor of mine in my childhood, when she taught at Beloit College for a year.

She's a tremendously cool woman, and I'm sorry this happened to her. She probably sold the rights hoping that any movie would be better than no movie at all and has now been proven wrong twice (see Lathe of Heaven).
posted by u.n. owen at 10:48 AM on December 16, 2004


azazello, there are plenty of big-name people who try for years and years to get pet projects like that made. More often than not, they fail.
posted by kyrademon at 10:52 AM on December 16, 2004


She was willing to write this off as a crappy waste of time until words started getting put in her mouth, at which point she got pissed.

Yep. I admire her for that. However, from reading her slate article, she has spent most of her time ranting about the change in the racial makeup of the characters rather than the destruction of her story and the themes that the story contained. I mean, really, of all the things to screw up in a film/tv adaptation, this should be the least of her worries.

From those who have a background in YA fiction, let me also say that handing Wizard of Earthsea to a high school student might come across as pretty patronizing. Once someone has made it to 8th grade s/he should start reading something more sophisticated, even within the sci-fi/fantasy genre.
posted by deanc at 10:53 AM on December 16, 2004


Mr. Glover should have known better, unless he was under specific instructions from the Director NOT to.

It wasn't just Glover's one line--Ged's true name and use name were reversed from the books consistently throughout the miniseries. It's the writers' fault, not the actors'; I'm sure the actors were following the script as written in that respect.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:55 AM on December 16, 2004


You simply can't get creative control over a film made from your book.

You can.
posted by eyeballkid at 11:01 AM on December 16, 2004


Moreover, I think LeGuin owes it to the admirers of her work to personally oversee a full-scale film production of the Earthsea trilogy . . .

This is just appalling. She already spends her life writing books for the admirers of her work. She doesn't owe anybody anything. The admirers of her work owe her their gratitude.

And while I agree that a good movie made from a good book is a fine thing, it's hardly a necessity; still less an obligation on the part of the author.

Le Guin probably could mount an ambitious project to make a first-rate film adaptation of her stories, but that would take time away from her life's work of writing novels.
posted by chrchr at 11:06 AM on December 16, 2004 [1 favorite]


i disagree quite vehemently with those who say that the race of the characters is unimportant to the story. how can you say that after having read the article? she more or less says that she was making a statmement by making the main characters non-whites. if it's important to the author, it's important to the story.

as a non-white who read a wizard of earthsea when i was just a few years younger than ged was in the story, i found the racial makeup of the characters extremely meaningful and i could have been one of the people who've written ms. leguin to express how wonderful it was to read a story featuring characters who looked more like me and my family and friends than those in the stories by the "lords" of fantasy/sci-fi. thank all the gods for leguin creating a milieu that doesn't feature main characters who act and speak like white people of mostly western european descent facing a race of evil humans or humanoids (usually darkly complected) from the eastern reaches of their world who want to destroy them.

i share her dismay and anger over what sci-fi has done to the series, and i'm sick of hearing that putting non-white faces on something means it won't sell. why do people with greenlight powers for everything from movies to novels to comic books continue to make that argument? what year is it again?

let me also say that handing Wizard of Earthsea to a high school student might come across as pretty patronizing. Once someone has made it to 8th grade s/he should start reading something more sophisticated, even within the sci-fi/fantasy genre.

i also disagree with this. i'm 31 now; i re-read the original earthsea trilogy a couple years ago and i discovered themes and levels of meaning that i completely missed the 1st time around. hell, i now find there are things going on in episodes of the flintstones that i completely missed the 1st time i saw them. now, this could just mean i'm particularly stupid and slow on the uptake, but i hope not! ;-)
posted by lord_wolf at 11:08 AM on December 16, 2004 [2 favorites]


I must add my unhappiness to the above. From Farmer's Riverworld abomination, to the re-hacking of Galactica, to Earthsea and it's obvious racism, SciFi and the writers of the above "adaptations" are pure poo.

And apparently they're doing something with Zelazny's Amber books. Which will also suck. Badly.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:19 AM on December 16, 2004


Following on lord_wolf, be careful, any white-ish folks out there, citing your own experience with reading the books to say that race wasn't important. As LeGuin says in Slate: Whites of course have the privilege of not caring, of being "colorblind." Nobody else does.
posted by soyjoy at 11:19 AM on December 16, 2004


I wish this handn't happened, and The Wizard of Earthsea was an important book to me as a kid.

That said, a lot of people on this thread have suggested that she should have sought a movie deal that would have given her more creative control. It just plain, flat-out, no-holds-barred does not work that way. Novelists do not get 'creative control' in movie deals. Even the actual writer of the script has no power the majority of the time...the novelist at that point is an artifact.

If the writer wants to have creative influence, there are only two ways to do it: 1) Insist (in the contract, of course) that they, the novelist, will be the writer of the first draft of the screenplay. This will (hopefully, but not necessarily) get the producers to at least read the first draft, have more meetings with the novelist, and start to think of the novelist as a real and immediate resource. 2) Fund the movie themselves. I can't think of a case where this has been done. For an epic fantasy, it's just not realistic.

Sure, Le Guin could have taken a hard line and said it had to go into the contract that the movie could not be made unless her favored screenwriter was the one doing the adaptation. And the studio would have turned her down, without hesitation. After all, until they've started to invest money, they don't really care whether her story makes it to the screen or not. They can always just pay a writer to make something up, and film that. Indeed, that's what they should have done anyway, but for some reason, studio people don't think like that.

This is not a judgement on Le Guin's integrity or gullibility. I think she knew what could happen, and she took the plunge, because she saw some hope, but it turned out she was wrong. It's tragic, but that's Hollywood.

On preview: eyeballkid, that sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.
posted by bingo at 11:28 AM on December 16, 2004


First time I read "Wizard" I didn't pick up the race stuff either -- I think I did what a lot of people do, and that's populate the backdrop and fill out characters with people from my own experience (white Mountain West USA). Now that my experience is broader, I read the books and the different races and cultures show up better in my head, and they do make for some interesting questions and thematic thoughts. Although I think many aspects of the first story can be intact without them... the story development seems to happen inside of Ged, more than between people.
posted by weston at 11:30 AM on December 16, 2004


Once someone has made it to 8th grade s/he should start reading something more sophisticated, even within the sci-fi/fantasy genre.

Uh... have you actually read the books? They're extremely sophisticated (the third book, The Farthest Shore, is actually an indictment of the Christian fantasy of salvation through life after death). Her books may be set in an imaginary country, but the questions she addresses are fundamental ones: life, death, responsibility, coming of age, aging, children, and so on.
posted by jokeefe at 11:35 AM on December 16, 2004 [1 favorite]


Oh -- I was also gonna say: I think an interesting tangent to this discussion would be the declining TV viewing/ratings in some demographics (I hear 18-34 year old men are among them, a demographic which I fit). The popular theory goes that TV's losing to video games and the internet. This fits me very well -- other than to watch movies, I don't think I turn on the tube more than 2-3 times per year. But I would probably have even bought a cable subscription to watch a well-made Earthsea series, and I wonder how many other people in television's eroding demographics would have felt the same.

As it is, the Sci-Fi channel just made a small blip on my radar as something to avoid on the few occasions when I do find myself watching.
posted by weston at 11:36 AM on December 16, 2004


I also find it interesting that many people here didn't pick up on the race thing-- I thought she had made it pretty clear-- Ged meets a woman at one point who is described as having skin "extremely sallow-- almost white". And the other characters are clearly black or brown. Hmmm.
posted by jokeefe at 11:37 AM on December 16, 2004


On further preview, anazello's suggestion re directly lobbying the power players on your (the novelist's) own has some merit. If Winona Ryder reads Girl, Interrupted and announces that it is going to become a movie starring her, and that it's going to stay more or less true to the book, then an army of people will immediately fall right into line. But, of course, that's if it's her idea. If you're going around trying to convince people in positions of power to help you, though, then you're still trusting that if they say yes, they're saying yes for the reasons you want them to, and that they're going to use their power to preserve the integrity of your work.

Anyway, you don't hear about many novelists attempting something like this, partly because most writers are not big social networkers, and partly because they operate in a completely different mileu anyway and wouldn't know how to pull something like that together. And partly because their book, as far as they're concerned, is already finished.
posted by bingo at 11:46 AM on December 16, 2004


On a tangentally related subject, Chris Weitz is off His Dark Materials. I honestly have no idea how they are going to make a movie out of this one.

Oh wait, now I know, by removing any mention at all of religion!
posted by hughbot at 11:47 AM on December 16, 2004


I remember Wizard of Earthsea being distinctive in that the characters were non-white (my 1986 edition portrays Ged on the cover as a darker, almost asian-looking character). Would LeGuin have been happier if the story had the same screenplay, but with more non-white characters? It seems that there was a litany of problems with the TV adaptation, but that LeGuin wrote her essay with "trembling fingers" that caused her to shoot off in a tangent.

I find it difficult to argue that very many pieces of fantasy literature are going to have a racial component that is so over-arching as to undermine the work itself if it is ignored. A butchered adaptation of Earthsea with a multiracial cast would still be a butchered adaptation.
posted by deanc at 12:12 PM on December 16, 2004


I loved how, now that 'Sparrowhawk' is his secret name in a universe where true names have power, the first full on magical thing he does on Roke is turn himself into...a sparrowhawk. Later on someone gives him a staff with a sparrowhawk engraved on the top. This is beyond vapid, but actually, willfully stupid.

That said - the best any author can do is hope for the best and prepare for the worst when they sell the rights. I'm trying to recall who it was (possibly Alan Moore) who, when asked what he thought about the films people had made of his work said simply "I don't. There's no point. You take the money and write something else". Raymond Chandler, when asked what he thought about Hollywood ruining his books, pointed to his bookshelf and noted that they weren't ruined at all, they were still there, safe within their covers.

I can see why UKlG is annoyed though. It's one thing to do the adaption/gutting, and another to say that you've found the essence of what the author meant. I would have gone with "This mini-series is, really, a complete load of toss - aside from it not making any sense, they couldn't even get the guy's race right," and then followed up with the aforementioned sparrowhawk/ged stupidity. If you're talking to the film industry - best to use short sentences.
posted by Sparx at 12:25 PM on December 16, 2004


I think it was Barthes who said that those who refuse to reread are doomed to read the same story everywhere.

My eight-year-old brain missed a lot of things on my first time through the series, as well. I picked them up again last year, and was blown away all over again. Tehanu made a lot more sense than it did when it first came out (I was in seventh grade and had yet to hear the word feminist, I think). Now I think it's a beautiful book with a great idea underlying it: what happens when the boy-hero becomes and adult, and is forced to create a place truly his own instead of just inhabiting the mythic structure? (ok, that's not the idea, but it's one of them.)

They're great books. And I'll never see the Sci-Fi crap...
posted by kaibutsu at 12:27 PM on December 16, 2004 [1 favorite]


The problem is that Hollywood is culturally defunct. Stop with all that adaptation, already. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen adapted from fine comic book to turkey jamboree. And it happens again and again. Half of all scripts bought are adaptations. If you like Earthsea som much, read the dratted book. Why must it be made into a movie at all? What are America's scriptwriters up to?
posted by Panfilo at 12:32 PM on December 16, 2004


If Winona Ryder reads Girl, Interrupted and announces that it is going to become a movie starring her, and that it's going to stay more or less true to the book, then an army of people will immediately fall right into line.

I dunno. Morgan Freeman and David Fincher together still haven't been able to get Rendezvous with Rama made, and Antonio Banderas hasn't been able to get The Sparrow made.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:44 PM on December 16, 2004


The scriptwriters aren't the problem, Panfilo. Producers only like to buy things they already know have a built-in audience, and are therefore safe investments - sequels, adaptations, etc.
posted by kyrademon at 12:55 PM on December 16, 2004


Kyrademon: I'm not convinced. The state of the market is a factor, of course, but it may, at the end of the day, be a creative problem as well. Or ultimately, a creative problem. In comics (I know comics better than movies), writers whine about the big comics companies (Marvel and DC) stifling creativity, but then when the indies publish their small, tight-niched stuff, it's no good either. So who's to blame?

This is what Alan Moore said in an old tripwire interview:

In the comics industry, people tend to talk about ‘The State of The Market’ as if it was something that was being done to them. They are responsible for it themselves. Unfortunately, most people do tend to play it safe and wait for somebody else to take the risks, so that they can rush in and do a cheap copy of it.

Sounds like Hollywood.
posted by Panfilo at 1:05 PM on December 16, 2004


kyradaemon - "And also, while a movie needs to be different from a book, if you jettison everything important about the book, why bother basing it off the book in the first place?"

Because then your advertising sales and marketing people can go to your potential advertising time buyers, and say:

"Hey, this series sold 30 million copies (or whatever it actually is) in the US and Canada - there's a HUGE audience out there for this! Everyone who's read the books will want to see it come alive on TV, just like they flocked to Lord of the Rings in the theaters! WE'LL HAVE THE HIGHEST RATINGS EVAR!! ABSOLUTELY A WINNER!!!"

And then the advertisers will pay more to buy the :30 and :60 spots during the broadcast, and you happily pocket the inflated fees while you've put out pabulumized crap that will play "safely" on TV. It's called "name recognition," an important concept in advertising sales, along with "built-in audience."

Whenever you see a mess like this on TV and wonder what the hell happened, do what all smart investigators do: follow the money.

Panfilo - "Why must it be made into a movie at all? What are America's scriptwriters up to?"

The majority of them are trying to make as much money as possible, so they can buy a big house in Beverly Hills and a pair o' Mercedes like (nearly) every other screenwriting asshole here in LA. And to do that, they need to write things they can sell to the people who run studios and networks, who are exactly the folks who misled Ms. LeGuin - so you can see the problem, yes?

(Disclaimer - I have a few Hollywood screenwriter friends. None of them fit this stereotype. At the moment. )

Thank you for attending The Business of Television 101! There will be a quiz after the next Neilsen Sweeps.

Ursula, honey... welcome to Hollywood. Sorry it went this way. Be sure to shower afterwards.
posted by zoogleplex at 1:11 PM on December 16, 2004


As LeGuin says in Slate: Whites of course have the privilege of not caring, of being "colorblind." Nobody else does.

Which, of course, is condescending tripe. Non-whites can perform the same intellectual feats that people with lighter-colored skin can. It's one thing to be subjected to the cultural baggage of living as a member of a minority group in a particular society and quite another to be inevitably forced into the rigid, inferior role that it expects you to adopt.
posted by rushmc at 1:35 PM on December 16, 2004


Having just re-read the first trilogy, I don't think that race is trivial. The theme of race, ethnicity and language shows up in the first chapter of Wizard by inverting Tolkein's use of race with dark-skinned villagers fighting off raids from the white-skinned barbarians. Then in Tombs the tension between Tenar as the protagonist and Sparrowhawk involves ethnicity as well as culture. Of course, her treatment of this theme is really subtle, perhaps too subtle, but it is there and a central part of Earthsea as a setting.

The books are novels that really bridge the young-adult and adult genres. I really wondered about how to translate them to the screen given that there are complete chapters where the entire action takes place as the internal monologues of two people sitting in a boat. Part of what makes these books really revolutionary in terms of fantasy is that the violence involved in the conflict resolution is really incidental. Ged meets his death by embracing it. Tenar's escape involves the accidental death of two people, and she is horrified at her own violent actions in regards to the prisoner. Cobb gets beaten down by a sword twice, but it really doesn't solve the problem.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:53 PM on December 16, 2004


Oh wait, now I know, by removing any mention at all of religion!

God is cut from film of Dark Materials
posted by homunculus at 2:08 PM on December 16, 2004


Panfilo, the wealth of treasures I've found in indie comic books and movies has given me the exact opposite impression from yours.

And zoogleplex, I know WHY people make horrible adaptations of popular books . . . I just wish they'd stop.
posted by kyrademon at 2:09 PM on December 16, 2004


>Whites of course have the privilege of not caring, of being "colorblind." Nobody else does.

Which, of course, is condescending tripe. Non-whites can perform the same intellectual feats that people with lighter-colored skin can.


WTF? Where is LeGuin saying anything about the ability to perform intellectual feats? Unless I'm totally misreading it, she means that whites have the luxury of not noticing racial issues except when they're thrust directly in their face. How is being blithely unaware of something an "intellectual feat?"
posted by soyjoy at 2:23 PM on December 16, 2004


It's one thing to be subjected to the cultural baggage of living as a member of a minority group

I think that's what she meant, in that it's difficult to be colourblind when you are constantly reminded of your minority status via colour based racism et cetera, because colour becomes part of your identity. Not so much a slam on mental capability, more the effect of the environment upon one's psychology.

That said, I don't know if it's true. For many people of various chromatic hues in my acquaintance, the only time colour/culture comes into anything is when they bitch about their parent's archaic expectations. The rest of the time it's all about the meritocracy - but then a lot of us are expats from various countries which tends to have a delightfully evening-out effect on one's view of cultural relativity.
posted by Sparx at 2:26 PM on December 16, 2004


KirkJobSluder, thanks for ruining the book. You could maybe have been as eloquent without the spoilers, maybe?
posted by linux at 2:27 PM on December 16, 2004


Don't worry, Linux, those weren't spoilers. Really.
posted by jokeefe at 2:45 PM on December 16, 2004


Sparx, one of us has a faulty memory of the books. In my memory, Ged is the true name, Sparrowhawk is the "use name", and the transformation into a sparrowhawk makes perfect sense - it's his nickname, not his real one.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:47 PM on December 16, 2004


i_am_joe's_spleen, I believe Sparx was talking about the crappy miniseries adaptation, not the original book.
posted by kyrademon at 3:48 PM on December 16, 2004


"And zoogleplex, I know WHY people make horrible adaptations of popular books . . . I just wish they'd stop."

You and me both, kyrademon. However, as long as there are are potential millions to be made, thus enabling nebbishy misanthropes to transform themselves into Hollywood Writers, buy fancy houses, expensive cars, and thus date really hot Hollywood Babes, this trend will continue ad absurdum.

And I'm with ya on indie comics, since I'm a comic artist. But they don't play well to Those Who Sell TV and Film, except as things they can steal and turn into tripe from which to make cash bilking advertisers and the public.

(Says the guy who, along with his writer, is going to try to sell their old indie comic - which they don't care about anymore - to Hollywood for whatever we can get for it. Don't worry, it won't be enough to buy a house and a Benz... just hope it will pay off my present car.)
posted by zoogleplex at 5:04 PM on December 16, 2004


Kyrandemon and Joe's_spleen: I was indeed referring to one of the more egregious changes in the mini-series - hence the reference to passing through 'arbitrary', 'unnecessary' and 'vacuous' and arriving on the farthest shore of ''willfully stupid'. I am in awe, quite frankly, at just how idiotic that particular decision was.
posted by Sparx at 5:09 PM on December 16, 2004


> she more or less says that she was making a
> statement by making the main characters non-whites.
> if it's important to the author, it's important to the story


I disagree. This thread skirts around a basic art issue: once an artist is done, the work of art no longer belongs to him and is no longer subject to his will, just as a child does not belong to a parent. So the artist may not be the best judge of his work and may not be the person best-suited to adapting it.

lord_wolf, I'm glad for you that the fact that her characters weren't white was significant. But to me it wasn't that important, at best a nice touch to make the fantasy a little more "alien" and removed from our present-day world, and a sign the author is open-minded and isn't tying her story down to some known tradition. But if the Kargads had been black (rather than white) and the Archipelagans had been yellow (rather than red/brown/black) it wouldn't have made much of a difference. Far more important were the story's themes, which I don't see having anything to do with race.

(The stories did have much more to do with sex, and followed very traditional this-world sex roles. I liked the way Tehanu played with that, years later, with a radically-different, critical, woman-centered consciousness. Of course the stories would have been hugely different if Ged had been a woman, and Tehanu a man.)

In Four Ways to Forgiveness, there's a description of slavery that seems pretty realistic and moving. I have no recollection what races the characters were. But the description of slavery stays with me.

One of the great things about a book isn't just what every reader can imagine for himself, but also what he can leave un-imagined. Science fiction, especially, is literature about ideas. Race matters less than in Tolkien's world because it's far more abstract. Then a movie comes along and feels obliged to fill in all these details that are just distractions from what made the book good in the first place.

Still, I'm glad this discussion gives me an excuse to re-read the series yet another time, with more of an eye towards race!
posted by Turtle at 5:20 PM on December 16, 2004


Can I also just say that as a Young Sparx, the first book scared the living crap out of me (I think it was when he saw some old friend as a drowned and bloated man that it really gave me nightmares) and the second sent me to sleep, because, really, it's just some boring girl, probably with girl cooties, in some darkness somewhere, which is really not my idea of a decent fantasy milieu. The third had dragons in it which all seemed a bit meh. I'm too chicken to read the later Tehanu etc stuff. I might catch feminism, or emasculation or something.

On preview: I might also catch radically-different, critical, woman-centered consciousness, which sounds painful.
posted by Sparx at 5:22 PM on December 16, 2004


> I might also catch radically-different, critical,
> woman-centered consciousness, which sounds painful.


Touché Sparx, I cringed when I re-read that phrase. I didn't mean it that way! It was just kind of cool that Le Guin wrote this extra volume that made fun of the trilogy: "All these guys wandering around with their sticks, talking about power and great deeds and stuff, meanwhile who has to raise the kids and do the dishes?". Enjoying it does require some sympathy with women, though, so not recommended if you're still worried about cooties.

I wish Tolkien had had the guts to criticize his own seriously wacky work. Instead, someone else had to write Bored of the Rings.
posted by Turtle at 6:07 PM on December 16, 2004


However, as long as there are are potential millions to be made...

Yep.
posted by rushmc at 7:03 PM on December 16, 2004


not having read any earthsea [altho i really liked the dispossed, the lathe of heaven (even thought the a&e remake was okay too :) and some of her short stories/parables] and not liking the first part very much, i quite enjoyed the second one a lot! like it became apparent that the first part functioned as an extended trailer of sorts... and actually fully servicable when used as such in the condensely edited intro to the second part.

i dunno, i liked it better than riverworld anyway :D oh and also highly anticipating/looking forward to galactica!
posted by kliuless at 7:26 PM on December 16, 2004


Thanks, everyone, for a great thread.

The comment I have (most of my thoughts have already been brought up) is that it's most disappointing now to see this happen. Even with media conglomeration, the market is broader and deeper than at any other time in my life. You can get really smart films out to play in Peoria through a platform release. (If you're not my age, you have no idea how much of a cultural backwater even a city of 50,000 could be.) With markets as diverse as theaters, straight-to-video, cable, and now online. If I were an author of a thoughtful book, I would hold out for the right adaptation and let it find its own market.

Tolkien's works survived a movie adaptation that was crippled and even incomplete. Backlash aside, the LotR film trilogy was many times better than fans had long expected; it was pure luck that the circumstances came together for a brilliantly correct director (who wasn't even a fan per se) to make these films.
posted by dhartung at 7:48 PM on December 16, 2004


And, rushmc, that it scored big ratings also allows them to start asking for more money for ALL the other shows airing on the channel - because they've "proven" they can draw an audience with "unique adaptations of classic SF Literature!"

In other words, the old tried-and-true scheme worked, once again.

I hope Ursula made enough to retire on from selling it.

Happy bean counters! That's what corporate entertainment is about. Please don't forget that, ever.
posted by zoogleplex at 8:47 PM on December 16, 2004


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