Monday, April 19, 2004
Cautious Enthusiasm

I'm taking a bit of a break from my studying just now, and wanted to post about something I came across this afternoon.

Those of you who know me know that I'm a rather big fan of Orson Scott Card and his various fiction. I enjoyed Ender's Game so much that I finished the novel 25 hours after first picking it up. While I wasn't quite as quick about completing Seventh Son, I think I may have enjoyed it even more.

All this to say that I've got a lot of emotional investment in Card's work. So how do I respond to the news that they are making Ender's Game into a film? With a mixture of elation and trepidation.

It's not the same as Lord of the Rings in my view, because with LOTR you had a 'doable' story for a movie. Granted, it would (and did) take a lot of effort and technology to bring it about, but it's still a feasible book-to-film transfer. I'm not so sure that EG is.

Think about it - the primary characters in EG are all under the age of 10, with the main character starting at age 6. How in the world do you accurately cast this film? Unless you are M. Night Shyamalan, I don't think it's possible to get the required performances out of children this age - and even he might shy away from displaying on film what Card does with his characters on the page. Violence between children, both technological and physical (those of you who have read the book know what I mean), may not go over too well with audiences. Shyamalan himself said (on the DVD commentary track of the Sixth Sense) that showing a child cry on the screen has the effect of totally draining your audience of emotional resource - how much more so for depicting the wanton cruelty of children?

Further difficulty is summed up by Card himself:

No matter who writes the script, there are only a hundred and twenty pages available to tell a story that took more than five times that many to tell in novel form. Trying to include everything would make a lousy movie. Something is going to get left out.
So not only are there tremendous casting obstacles to overcome, but we're also going to lose quite a bit of the story in general. This, of course, is to be expected in any move adaptation, but I wonder now if the project might be trying to do the impossible.

I take encouragement from the fact that OSC is directly involved in the filmmaking process, naturally, and I do indeed hold high hopes for success (especially with the recruitment of Wolfgang Peterson); but I'm only too aware of the difficulties this material presents - hence, the title of this post.
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A webjournal of ideas, comments, and various other miscellany from a Texan university student (with occasional input from his family) living in Toronto, Ontario. Can you say "culture shock?"

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