Monday, October 08, 2007

Book BIN Tuesday -- The Dark Is Rising


When the Dark comes rising, six shall turn it back;

Three from the circle, three from the track;

Wood, bronze, iron; water, fire, stone;

Five will return, and one go alone.

I've been a fan of The Dark Is Rising since seventh grade, when a school librarian recommended the sequence. I still remember the shelf it was on in my Junior High library -- bottom left of the far right side of the library, next to the study tables. Maybe because I checked each of the five books out so frequently. :)

I loved them -- the Arthurian mythos, the English/Welsh countryside, the not-always-obvious battle for the soul of the world. For a long time, I read The Dark Is Rising every year at the winter solstice. It was a perfect beginning to the season.

So I was thrilled when I saw the new edition at the local Borders -- Soon To Be A Major Motion Picture! I ran home and looked it up on IMDB, clicking excitedly on the trailer.

By the end of the 45-second ad, I was crushed. They'd taken everything wonderful and magical and amazing about the book and stripped it away. They'd turned a shy, eleven year old English boy with a large but loving family into a typical, thirteen year old transplanted American with a family that treated him poorly. They dumped the Arthurian backstory. They cut the Walker, for heaven's sake!
Not only that, but interviews showed that the people involved in making the film either hadn't bothered to read the book, or they read it and hated it. The screenwriter doesn't like fantasy. The director thought he could trim out pretty much everything and keep the "spine" of the story. The actors mentioned how "dense" and "boring" the book was. The author, Susan Cooper, was interviewed on NPR , and came across as quietly devastated at what had been done to her book.
So the movie came out last Friday, now renamed The Seeker (formerly The Seeker: The Dark is Rising), and it -- tanked. Horribly. It was the worst opening for a fantasy movie EVER. Part of me is glad, because I hate to see books treated so abominably and the efforts rewarded. But I'm worried that a new generation of readers will avoid the books now that the movie associated with it is such a bomb. Even many of the reviews seem to blame the author or the book for the travesty that is the movie.
So please, take my advice. Save your movie ticket money and buy the book instead. You'll be so, so glad you did. (And so will I.) :D

4 comments:

m-dith said...

I caught the last moment of a commercial--all dark and scary with the silhouette of a boy and the words "The Seeker". I thought it must be this. Poor Susan Cooper! One of the greatest kids' series ever written and they do this to it. May the makers of this travesty never work in the creative fields again.

I think it's time I pulled out my old copies and re-read the whole sequence. It's been several years, and I am past due to relive the brilliance.

Kate Davies said...

Yeah. That's the one.

I have a feeling that the horrible sales figures for this movie will bring karma back on the idiots who thought it was a great idea to make a movie based on a book they all hated and/or didn't understand. :P

I'll join you on the re-read. It's about that time of year, anyway, isn't it?

m-dith said...

It is indeed. And once they're done installing the carpet, we can start moving things back out of the back room, and I might even be able to get to my copies of the books. LOL

I just recommended them to a friend for his 11-year-old nephew, too. :D

Arlene said...

Oh THANK YOU!! I would have just had to KILL someone for ruining that book!! I have just introduced my 14 year old to MY copy I bought in all places Scotland about 10 years ago because I couldn't find it in the base library and was too lazy to get a "local" card.... Was a series I read and read myself millions of times as a kid. But hacks are why I rarely watch movies created from books I love. After seeing them kill "watchers" by Koontz it's NEVER a happy thought for me!!