Thursday, 9 June 2016

Visual Media

OK. It is well after midnight. I want to stop reading prose and switch to a visual medium but stay with the mythological theme. Poul Anderson's heroic fantasies concentrate on Odin rather than on Thor. However, on p. 13 of War Of The Gods (Tor Books, New York, 1999):

"A giant stood and roared... His threats and foul words became too much for Thor. The storm god smote him, and a crushed skull was the wage that he got."

Thor is in the Marvel Movieverse and in many Marvel comics with the other Aesir although they are misnamed "Asgardians."

Odin and Thor are in Neil Gaiman's The Sandman.

Fenris Wolf is in Mike Carey's Lucifer, a sequel to The Sandman, where one of the Lilim calls Fenris "A god from a forgotten pantheon. An accidental survival." (Lucifer: Morningstar, New York, 2006), p. 79.  (What an insult!)

Here we have:

Thor in a Poul Anderson novel;
Thor in films and sequential art.

The perfect synthesis would be screen and graphic adaptations of Poul Anderson's works.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

For cinematic or graphic adaptations of any of the works of Poul Anderson you would producers, directors, script writers, and artists sensitive enough to RESPECT the texts of Anderson's stories. And I do not include Peter Jackson in that category because he made a horrible both of Tolkien's THE LORD OF THE RINGS and THE HOBBIT.


David Birr said...

Paul and Sean:
I had severe reservations about Jackson's version of *TLOTR* ... the first movie, at any rate; enough that I never got around to watching the second and third. BUT -- one fellow wrote a review making what I think is a good point: that Tolkien tended to TELL rather than SHOW, and Jackson reversed that.

I saw part of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug* (came across it on TV, not went to see it in a theater), and rather liked what Jackson had done with it. That reviewer I mentioned had this to say about *TDOS*:

"Tolkien’s *The Hobbit* weighs in at 95,000 words, and places fifteen characters on an arduous, adventure-filled trek from The Shire to Erebor. But those 95,000 words only show us Bilbo in any real detail. Most of the dwarves are short, stocky, bearded cardboard cut-outs. The story is a travelogue during which our protagonist finds an artifact, finds his center, awakens a dragon, and then watches as the greatest armies in Middle Earth march onto the same plain. It’s a fine story, to be sure, but it only scratches the surface of what’s going on. Who is Bard? Who is Fili? Can the enmity between Thorin and Thranduil be demonstrated, rather than offered as a data-point? Why didn’t Gandalf show up when he was supposed to? Was he doing something important?" -- Howard Tayler, 23 December 2013

Full disclosure: Rather liking what I saw of *TDOS* still didn't motivate me to search out and watch the rest of Jackson's take on Middle-Earth. But then, too, I haven't read *Mother of Kings*. Maybe someday....

At any rate, part of the problem with turning books into movies is ALWAYS that some things won't transfer well. Descriptions of what somebody's thinking but NOT saying aloud, for instance, if it's a long passage of analyzing the situation. If that lengthy analysis MUST be passed on to the viewer, the producer needs to find a way of conveying it other than having the character sitting there wordlessly smoking his pipe while a voice-over gives us five minutes or so of monologue. "Captain's Log, stardate...."

Granted, a SHORT voice-over can be a nice touch, especially over action. I think I've mentioned before that I believe it'd work to make the "Every planet in the story is cold..." intro from *A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows* into first-person narration voiced by Flandry. But if the author specifically said that the character did ALL of his thinking things through while puffing on the meerschaum, then you've got to change that for the movie, or you'll lose the attention of most audiences.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, David!

Of course I agree with you on the practical difficulties of "translating" a book into a movie. And the first paragraph of A CIRCUS OF HELLS would also make a nice first person narrative introduction by Flandry in a filmed version of that book.

But chief complaint with Peter Jackson's horrible botching of THE LORD OF THE RINGS and THE HOBBIT were all the uncanonical extras he inserted into the story. Such as the ridiculous battle with the wargs in Rohan, and the shoddy ways he treated Denethor, Faramir, and Sam Gamgee on the stairs of Cirith Ungol. And that's even more true of THE HOBBIT movies.

I grant the validity of the points you made about the dwarves in THE HOBBIT, altho I thought Thorin Oakenshield, Balin, Dori, Bombur were well developed. I argue that it was the needless PROLONGING of the HOBBIT movies and the uncanonical additions which spoiled them for me.