I read a few days ago that they are going to try making a movie version of “A Wrinkle In Time” again, theatrical instead of made-for-TV this time. It’s still a Disney property. I feel the exact same squee/hate emotional dichotomy that has become very familiar to me over the years. The sad truth is that as much as I want a true adaptation of this book that has been so important to me, I know in my gut that it’s just going to be a mess. Even so, I’ll be unable to look away JUST IN CASE.
It all started with “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Theough the Looking Glass.” That was my first love, book-style. I’d seen the Disney cartoon first and I still like it seperately ( and the recent Tim Burton “sequel” which is far more related to the cartoon from the parent company than he source material, but more on that, later). Even so, I wanted so much for someone to take it and make an adaptation of the story I fell in love with rather than some “related” story that had mostly a nodding cousin acquaintance with it. I watched every adaptation (including a somewhat satisfying if full of painful costumes and musical numbers miniseries on network TV) and was always somewhat disappointed if not outright pained. This was my first, ongoing, lesson.
Another notable source of canon-anguish has been The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis. Again, I saw the, admittedly, abbrieviated cartoon adaptation of “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” and kind of loved it before being old enough to read the book. I had, in fact, almost forgotten the cartoon when I found the book with the intriguing title that broigt the dreamlike memory back to me. Then, joy! I found there was a WHOLE SERIES! I was in bookworm heaven! So of course I read them all, and they were of varying interest to me, but as a whole, they were good.
Then the movies came (I’m skipping the BBC adaptations because I they’re a different creature, and I get kind of personal about the kids, who annoy me). The first one was a pretty good try. I applauded the effort. However, Prince Caspian was marketing to the Lowest Common Denominator personified. Everything was sacrificed from plot to characterization to make it a “rollicking action yarn,” and there was no reason. “People won’t understand the flashback sequences” some said. I would have to beg to differ, lots of movies have been made where backstory comes in flashback. The mangling of the character of Peter, the demand that Susan somehow channel Xena, it was all a mess. It was even more of one than I’d imagined and I’d come in thinking the one thought: “Won’t someone think of the children.”
That thought had been mostly a joke. I mean, I’m a book geek, and a canon fiend, and the fact that there would be kids out there getting their first exposure to this and thinking this was the “real” story galled me. It galled me in an “I can laugh at myself” way, but when I came out I was so annoyed. Why do people have to make up their own stories, when they’ve got perfectly good source material?
I have no answer. I wish I did. Maybe I did when I started writing this and I’ve now forgotten. What I do have is scads of annoyance and piles of books I’m going to go hug and tell “don’t you ever change.” Know what? I know they won’t, and they’ll still be there… until we all forget how to read. That, of course, is a tale for another day.