For those who have never heard of it, The Dark Is Rising (the second book) is about Will Stanton, an English boy who discovered on his eleventh birthday that he is the last of the Old Ones, beings of the Light, and that he has to find the Six Signs to stop the forces of the Dark. The book is deeply embedded in British and Celtic folklore and Arthurian mythology. It also received the 1974 Newbery Honor award.
I found out a few months back when browsing IMDB that the book is being made into a film. At first I couldn’t believe it since it is my favourite book, then I was really excited. However, after searching a bit more on the net, I was flabbergasted, and not in a good way.
Apparently, the people involved in the making of the film had decided to take it upon themselves to ‘adapt’ the book in a way they see fit. And by that I mean they totally butchered the story. It is now changed so much it’s horribly beyond recognition!
Now, before you start, I know you have to change the book a bit to make it into a film because of the different media. That’s pretty much obvious and everybody knows that. However, there is a line between adapting a book and making an entirely new story altogether! From what I’ve gathered, the only things that are the same are the names of some of the key characters and the fact that Will has so seek the six signs.
As a start, they scrapped all the Arthurian reference! I mean, what the heck? That is entirely integral to the story since it’s part of the storyline. In fact, two main characters (one appearing in book 4) are directly from the mythology. By removing that, you’ve effectively removed the backbone of the story itself. Which also means there’s no way they can make book 4 and 5 into films, since you won’t have much of the story left. Apparently, the scriptwriter acknowledged that he hasn’t read the rest of the series, which is absurd, since that’s a very stupid thing to do if you’re making an adaptation.
What’s more, they’ve changed the main character’s nationality to American, furthermore distancing the film with the English mythology. His age is also changed to thirteen, since they probably thought an eleven year old hero will not appeal much to teenagers. They changed the magic from subtle to flashy (a la Harry Potter style). They’ve also totally rewritten the characters. They changed Will’s family from a caring one to a stereotypical emotionally distant, pick-the-younger-brother type family. His older brother is now an agent of the dark. Instead of the English countryside, there are now police chases in the malls and kung fu fights on top of fruit carts. There are a lot more changes, and you can find a list of them in this blog in livejournal here. There’s also another big change, which I’ll get into later.
Sadly enough, I was planning on seeing the film despite all the disservice it has done to the book, simply because it’s my favourite book being shown on the silver screen, if nothing else. However, now that I’m back in
They’ve totally changed Will Stanton.
Now, Will is one of my favourite book characters of all time (the other one being Granny Weatherwax) and one that I adored so much when I was a kid (or rather, teenager) and is still now. He’s a calm, collected and thoughtful kid (that comes with being an Old One) and is described in the books as ‘wise beyond his years’. In the film, the
impostor Will is a bratty little kid who tries to be cool and fit in. He blows up cars and hurled his brothers with his super powers when he’s frustrated. They even gave him a love interest! Now that is utterly PREPOSTEROUS!! In the trailer, Will is quoted as saying “I'm supposed to save the world? I don't even know how to talk to a GIRL!” I was so shocked it’s not even funny. Now that is one thing that Will Stanton will NEVER, ever say. And I mean never!
I realised that to see this film means I’ll be ruining the Will I envisioned in my head, so I’m not going. I know that it’s not really his real character, but it’ll be hard to get it out of my head if I see the film, and I don’t want to be reminded of it every time I pick the book to read. I’m appalled enough as it is now with this horrific treatment of my beloved book.