The Doubtful Adaptation
June 13, 2007 10:22 PM   Subscribe

Edward Gorey is coming to the big screen! You may know him from his animations on PBS. You may even be familiar with his poem on child mortality. And if you’re a particularly avid fan, you may have purchased his raccoon fur coat.
posted by gueneverey (30 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I love love love Gorey, especially The Curious Sofa: A Pornographic Work by Ogdred Weary, but I wonder how well this will play out. Your title says it all.
posted by exlotuseater at 10:36 PM on June 13, 2007

K is for Katillathehun who was struck by her profoundly mixed feelings of idol-worship and fear of shoddy adaptations.

I die.
posted by katillathehun at 10:48 PM on June 13, 2007 [3 favorites]

Only if there's a tea cosy involved. And some year-old fruit cake.
posted by Bixby23 at 10:59 PM on June 13, 2007

Live action? Where are they going to find enough people with square heads? No, better to let Burton or Henry Selleck or a properly-trained, traditional animator do it.
posted by lekvar at 11:00 PM on June 13, 2007

The Doubtful Guest is my favorite Gorey creation, but I really can't imagine a full length adaption of a thirty page book. One of the things Gorey does best is illustrate scenes with no dialogue; the way the family in this particular story suffer in silence in the perfect Victorian fashion is what make it so amusing. No doubt they'll have dialogue in the film, and the story will have an entirely different quality.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:04 PM on June 13, 2007

This is sure to be the best thing since that Cat in the Hat movie.
posted by washburn at 11:08 PM on June 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

"It's hard to come up with a creature that you've never seen before in any medium, and he's a unique little creation who is very appealing without being cute or cloying," Jim Henson Co. co-CEO Lisa Henson said. "He's sophisticated yet simple at the same time, but it's not overly juvenile. Adults can find him cute, too."

Oh dear. I can see the UnHappy Meals rolling off the production line already.
Maybe Mike Meyers will provide the voice? :p
posted by maryh at 11:15 PM on June 13, 2007

Everyone is already so worried that they'll ruin it!

Actually, me too. In fact I'm very worried.
posted by JHarris at 11:33 PM on June 13, 2007

I don't know. The Henson crew has done some pretty cool stuff recently, like Neil Gaiman's Mirror Mask, so I'm going to reserve judgement for now. Adapting such a tiny little short story into a full-length feature film, rather than a short, doesn't bode well, though (even if it did work out for the people who did Brokeback Mountain).
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:44 PM on June 13, 2007

Hopefully, Lisa Henson's geneology will kick in and it'll be good.
posted by chuckdarwin at 12:08 AM on June 14, 2007

Unhappy Meals

chortle, muchly. thanks.
posted by progosk at 12:11 AM on June 14, 2007

oh, and: Gorey, previously.
posted by progosk at 12:26 AM on June 14, 2007

Who can forget the ice skaters in Victorian dress dropping fruit cakes into a hole in the ice?
posted by Cranberry at 1:08 AM on June 14, 2007

Wasn't Gorey's visual style, at least, adapted for the screen in the Lemony Snicket movie?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 1:12 AM on June 14, 2007

Frank O'Hara's college room-mate.

posted by bardic at 1:19 AM on June 14, 2007

There was an odd fellow named Gorey
Who composed a peculiar story
Some who thought the book groovy
Said "Hey, let's make a movie!"
Which caused most of us no end of worry.

We're unsure Hollywood's ministration
Will do justice to Edward's creation
Perhaps yes. We shall see
But I fear it will be
an embarrassing abomination.

"Some fart jokes thrown in for the kiddies!
A soundtrack of hot hip hop ditties!
The "guest" could be portrayed
By... let's get Carvey! No, Spade!"

............ I think I just broke my own brain.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:31 AM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

What makes a Gorey book effective- the union of illustration, obliqueness and brevity- makes it constitutionally impossible to transfer to another medium. Especially a long form one.
posted by bendybendy at 4:23 AM on June 14, 2007

I saw a production of Dracula on Broadway that Gorey did the sets and costumes for. All black and white except for one red item in each scene. We were bummed because Frank Langella had started the role but by the time we got to see it, some unknown actor named Raul Julia had taken over the role.
posted by octothorpe at 5:38 AM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

Probably a bad idea, like Spielberg's intention to bring Tintin to life.

I'm sure the posters here know it, but others might not be aware that Gorey's house in Yarmouth is now a museum. (They have their own website, but it keeps timing out on me.)

Perhaps the movie will help support it.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:55 AM on June 14, 2007

I bet Donald Kaufman would've been able to think himself up a story around this one.
posted by Spatch at 6:25 AM on June 14, 2007

I visited the "Elephant House" last year myself. Kind of cool to see all the Edward Gorey stuff in one place (it's not a long tour, it's not a big house after all). Certainly worth an hour or two of your time if you're down on the Cape.

as for a live action movie.... um yuk. I could see a series of animated shorts in the same style as the Mystery! opening credits. 7 minute shorts would be excellent. Live action though, once you take away Gorey's drawings there isn't much to the stories, I think they will lose a lot of their character.
posted by inthe80s at 6:38 AM on June 14, 2007

I really hope this is brilliant and wonderful and worthy of Gorey's outstanding talent and wordsmithing. My breath is certainly not being held, however.
posted by banannafish at 7:13 AM on June 14, 2007

[This is not good]
posted by 40 Watt at 7:16 AM on June 14, 2007

Wasn't Gorey's visual style, at least, adapted for the screen in the Lemony Snicket movie? Or stolen.

Maybe the movie will turn out all right. I can see liking an Edwardian Royal Tenenbaums with a mysterious muppet hanging around. But it does seem that the Gorey aesthetic would be hard to transfer to live cinema.
posted by Jess the Mess at 7:48 AM on June 14, 2007

i think this paragraph says it all:

Originally published in 1957, the whimsical story revolves around a quirky family whose life is turned upside down when a mysterious, mischievous creature arrives unannounced and unwelcome, bringing trouble with him and wreaking havoc.
posted by geos at 8:01 AM on June 14, 2007

See, I think it could be a marvelous movie. But, and this is a BIG but, there is no way it can be a marvelous movie AND a movie that makes much money. Yeah, Henson has done consistently good, but the folks who made the Narnia movie? blech, and Fox 2000? very very mainstream. Combine this all plus making a "live action" Gorey movie = too many hands in the pot = only a passing resemblance to Gorey.
posted by edgeways at 8:38 AM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

An Edward Gorey anecdote.

While I never got to meet the man, for a time I rented a basement room of a couple of elderly English professors in San Diego (while attending SDSU) who knew him well. In fact they had many original peices of artwork that he drew for their son years back. All that art covered the walls of the tiny room I inhabited for two semesters.

They also had an ancient Olivetti Internationale typewriter in that room, prompting me to write some very strange (and very bad) poems and stories that year, surrounded by and inspired by Mr. Gorey's unique art.

I guess he came to visit one time while I was away on break, a missed opportunity I kick myself over to this day.
posted by elendil71 at 8:53 AM on June 14, 2007

Just watch, they'll have Converse (nike) do a tie-in for all the high-top tennis shoes.

See, I work in advertising.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:54 AM on June 14, 2007

louche mustachio wins.
posted by JHarris at 12:29 PM on June 14, 2007

Just try to imagine "The Beastly Baby" as a short film. It might work. However, a full-length movie that was live action would need some kind of rotoscoping software, like in A Scanner Darkly to properly bend each person into those ... Gorey shapes. Combined with those great, staring pauses of tension and/or confusion, the vast majority of the scratching, beady-eyed American public would be left wondering "Just what the heck that wuz about."

I could see a great deal of money used to produce a film which a few die-hard Gorey fans would like. I can see about half of that money used to produce a film which Gorey fans would find almost unrecognizable. I, for one, have an umbrella grasped firmly in one ridiculously slender hand, waiting to beat away the Hollywood hordes.
posted by adipocere at 3:27 PM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

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