The Book of the Movie of the Book

Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Library

The Book of the Movie of the Book

Rant 1

Many books are made into movies, to varying degrees of commercial and artistic success. There are healthy debates on how faithful a movie should be to the book, which I think are fascinatingly pointless. A song about an historical person would never be expected to contain everything about that person. Even biographies that take decades to write can’t claim to be all inclusive. This is how art works. Likewise, a movie based on a book cannot be expected to contain the whole book. A director and a group of actors and film crew may assemble one version of the story, understanding that different movies could also be made from the same material. But going back to the source of my rant…

Rant 2

Many of us have gone to the bookstore to purchase (for shame!) a novel that was made into a film and noticed that the cover is based solely on the movie. I bought a copy of Prince Caspian to replace my own destroyed copy and was revolted to find the store had only one version—a cheap paperback covered in colorful images from the $225 mil budgeted Disney blockbuster one Rottentomatoes.com critic called, “a visual sleeper-hold from frame one; a constipated effort to erect wide-screen wonderment.”

Yet, the *only* pictures on my book are now of Disney’s Caspian cast. I’m walking around with a commercial for a Disney movie, which also happens to have Lewis’s original text underneath. What I had hoped for, and indeed what I would have gotten had Disney not stepped in, was a book with words. Framing a book in photographs from a mass-market movie force-feeds us Disney’s opinions. There is already a Disney Resort based on their interpretation of Narnia, and a Prince Caspian Disney video game. We should be allowed to holler, “Hey! That's not what they look like!” or at least have the option of not buying a Disney book. Am I overreacting? I think not. Look: authors’ words are the bricks with which we build our own imaginary worlds. This creative interpretation/invention is one of the most important parts of the artistic process. Lewis’ prose is supposed to be loose and open to such interpretation, not just a plot to be followed by these Disney-designed medieval Jonas Brothers.

I know how misleading it would be for me to post this blog entry, including flashy photos of Tom Cruise at a computer, with the caption reading: "My Blog."

The core of this entry was a celebration of Narnia, but I guess it ended up as a celebration of purity. Funny thing is, I liked the movie for what it was. Junk food is good once in a while!