Wednesday, November 24, 2004

How wrong can it go?

Terribly, utterly and devastatingly wrong, it seems.

Sarin was kind enough to point out to me yesterday that a Scifi Channel production of Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea stories is going to be aired in the near future. It's a four episode miniseries which went into post-production sometime in September or so. My first reaction: "What? Is there really such a thing? Wow!" I think I had heard rumours of it at some point, but had completely forgotten all about it, so this really was news to me.

Earthsea is by far my absolute fantasy favorite besides Lord of the Rings. I love the subtle, almost minimalistic storytelling of Ms. Le Guin. She has created a beautiful, rich world and her stories of dragons, mages and the true power of names are elegant and thoughtful. I've always thought I'd love to see a good filmatisation of the stories, but at the same time I've been afraid that it'll never happen. The people who make fantasy filmatisations these days would face a true challenge in portraying a world where the biggest threats seem to be more of the philosophical kind than the war mongering kind. I'm sure the Earthsea stories could be made into a perfectly beautiful movie, too, but this production isn't going to be it.

As I surfed through the site of the miniseries I became more horrified by the moment. They've added a completely new side to the story, a frigging warlord (a Kargide king) who wants to rule the whole world and needs a mage by his side to do that. So he chases Sparrowhawk around to make him his minion or whatever. Nooooooo!! And on top of this, they've made the priestesses of Atuan look way too dressed-up and Kossil seems to be a beautiful young woman who hungers power to herself (wants to team up with the Kargide king, believe it or not) instead of a not-so-pretty and silently threatening character I visualised her to be. And they've cast a black man as Ogion! I never thought he'd be black, dark for sure, but black? Not that I have anything against black people, but the story hasn't got a black Ogion in it. Even Ged doesn't look like he's supposed to...

I'm so disappointed. Not surprised, though. Such gems as Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings -trilogy are truly rare. Sure he made some interpretations too, but he did, in my opinion, get the feel of the story right. I love Tolkien's work very much, but I really don't have that much to complain about Jackson's version of the story, either. (Well, he could've cast three more gorgeous elves - I truly would've wanted to see Elladan & Elrohir and Glorfindel! In the coronation scene there is a possible Glorfindel, but he would've deserved more time on screen...) Oops, got sidetracked there for a bit... The positive side of this Earthsea production is that it's going to save me some money. I don't think I need to buy the box set, when it comes out.

It's really so sad that the world of fantastic for some reason needs to have huge armies and battle scenes when fitted for the screen. That's so not the point in Le Guin's work. The author herself wasn't involved in the production (surprise, surprise) and has, rightly so, commented on some of the producers statements. Quite sternly, too. Good for her.

Ok, enough of that. Except for a bit more... I think I'll have a darned good time smashing the miniseries into little bits and pieces of utter crap if I ever see it. I promise to be a bigot and a true purist when it comes to commenting on this production. I will fail to see anything good in it and I will loudly claim that the books didn't have anything like that in them. :) (Well, to be honest, the scenery did look nice. They've obviously tried to make everything look good. Unfortunately it probably doesn't save the whole. Too bad.)

Well. The thesis doesn't write itself while I blog, so that's it for the day.

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