Thursday, 24 July 2008

My most favourite book in the world... The Dark Is Rising. Ideally I would be able to cheat slightly and make it the 5-in-1 edition that has all the books in, but if not then just the one will do.

There is a very beautiful hardback edition available (with the same publishers price as the paperback) which is permanently on my recommends bay at work. If you follow the link you can read my review...

*waits for people to do that*

I have to confess that I hadn't actually seen the film, just read its Wikipedia entry. The thought of the story changes made me furious!

Then today it arrived from LoveFilm (I don't actually remember selecting it) so I thought I'd better watch it.

Oh. Dear. Me.

Let's take a story about a boy who is the youngest in his large family ( he has 5 brothers and 3 sisters). They've lived in the same village all their lives and know everyone there. The family are close, the boys sing in the choir at the local church and one of the twins (Paul) is very musical. On Midwinter's Day (his eleventh birthday), Will discovers that he is an Old One and must find Six Signs (wood, bronze, iron, water, fire, stone) to ward off the rising of the Dark. Will is aided by Merriman Lyon (described as a tall man with a fiercely curving nose and lots of thick, wild, white hair), temporary butler to the wheelchair bound Miss Greythorne from Huntercombe Manor . Despite storms and flood Will manages to find all Six Signs and this allows Herne the Hunter to lead the Wild Hunt against the Dark and banish them for a time.

Now lets see... We'll make the family American, they've just moved to a small English village. There are still six boys, but we'll lose two of the girls and make the remaining one the youngest. We'll make Will 14 instead of 11, make his brothers "typical" teenagers, mean to their little brother whenever possible, and we'll make the twins into proper little horrors. Instead of Will being the seventh son because the family's first child died a few days after being born, we'll make it that he had a twin who mysteriously vanished. Let's make that the fault of the father, that gives a good reason for him being totally detached from family life. Then we'll make Miss Greythorne able to walk, and make Merriman into Ian McShane. Have we ruined it enough yet? Nope... Ok, let's cut out any possible references to British folklore and mythology, stick in a random love interest, and make Will have a few "superpowers" along the way. Oh, I nearly forgot, let's make one of the Signs Will's soul and give him his vanished twin back at the end of the film.

Oh. Dear. Me.

I can't think of a book/film adaptation that has been so wrong. I'm not a fan of the Narnia films, but at least they seem to be sticking fairly true to the spirit of the books. This one just takes a few names, a general premise and then invents everything else that it can. Fair enough, the film of Practical Magic did this, but it remained true to the spirit of the book. I'm not keen on David Jason as Rincewind, he doesn't fit my vision of him, but Terry Pratchett was happy with it and ultimately he's his creation.

I would quite like to hunt down every single copy of this film and destroy them.

All I can do is say that if you've seen the film (poor you) and not read the books then please, please, please read the books! Read the books and discover Susan Cooper's mythologically enhanced fantasy masterpiece.


(I do have to say that the only character in the film I actually liked was Christopher Ecclestone as The Rider. Ignoring the whole silly English doctor part he also played, as The Rider he was pretty spot on - he'll be the only bit of it I care to remember.)
Oh good, someone else feels the same way, and managed to express all the hideous changes in fabulous list form!

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