06 September 2007

Fantasy Films

I'd like to reinstate the "reading/listening to" feature of this blog:
Reading: Green Dolphin Street; just finished Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy.
Listening to: Romeo & Juliet by Gounod.

I’ve been thinking about film these days. All of a sudden there's a proliferation of classic fantasy-style books being made into movies. I (finally) watched the first four Harry Potter films this summer and hope to see the newest one next week. You know, I purposely stayed out of the Harry Potter “controversy” (Christians burning the books while kids lined up in costume at midnight to buy the newest book) for years, and now I regret that. I wish that I were part of the subculture that was eagerly speculating about the ending of the series. I wish I could have rushed out to buy the latest book. There is a gap in my experience of both fantasy literature and popular culture.

I wish there hadn’t been a controversy. Why do we have to make such a big deal over such lovely, fun, delightful things as new fantasy fads?

Well, I’ve just finished Pullman’s trilogy, and I know why Christians do have to keep their antennae up, feeling for heresy. But I can’t do it. I can’t keep away from these brilliant books. Yes, the books are about the need to kill God, because His church has oppressed people and kept them from reaching their potential and has basically perpetrated every crime against creativity and joy and consciousness possible. Yes, the portrait of God (a version of Blake’s) is pitiful, evil, blasphemous. Yes, this epic quite clearly makes Satan (or all his forces) out to be the hero(s). But wow is it great writing, and I don’t know if I’ve ever come across an imagination like his! The daemons alone are enough to immortalize this series. But there’s so much more that’s both brand-new and timeless: fresh metaphors for love, an updated version of Gulliver’s Houyhnhnms, angels who envy human flesh, the revivifying (if that’s the right word!) of Virgil’s underworld, wheeled animals, windows between parallel universes, meeting one’s own Death as a gentleman, and on and on. The writing kept me gasping in shock, weeping in grief, gritting my teeth in terror and suspense.

I’ve heard films are being made of Pullman's trilogy. I think they will be great.

And there’s a film being made of Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series, which is another I’ve missed. More here.

And there’s also an upcoming
film of Paradise Lost
, for better or worse. You can read more about it here.

So I’d better get moving on my pipe dream: to make films of Dante’s Divine Comedy, of the greatest of the Inklings’ works, and of some other classics. Here are the movies for which I would love to write the screen plays and direct the films (but I haven’t any experience in either):

Out of the Silent Planet
That Hideous Strength
The Great Divorce
The Princess and the Goblins
The Princess and Curdie
Many Dimensions
The Place of the Lion
Descent into Hell
The Book of the Dun Cow
The Iliad
The Odyssey
The Winter’s Tale

I don’t think I’d like to have one done of Till We Have Faces, though.

What do you think? Do you think it’s a good idea? What other books would you add?

Wow! Look what I just got in my email from the C. S. Lewis society:
A number of the fantasy novels by novelist, playwright, poet, biographer, and theologian Charles Williams, starting with his ALL HALLOW'S EVE, will be made into major films by renowned producer Ralph Winter. Mr. Winter is also producing the film version of C.S. Lewis's best-selling book, THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS, which is scheduled for release in late 2008. Among his many other film credits are the X-Men, Fantastic
Four, and Star Trek III-VI films as well as "Planet of the Apes," "Mighty Joe Young," and "Flight of the Intruder," as well as the ABC TV series, "Lost."



Steve Hayes said...

I think War in heaven would make a good movie.

I quite enjoyed the Pullman books, but thought they deteriorated towards the end, and it also got pretty preachy.

He rails against Christian asceticism, and in the end Will and Lyra iopt for something almost indistiguishable from it.

I've started a new discussion forum on the Inklings - woudl you be interested in joining?

Iambic Admonit said...

Steve -- I'd love to join!

Steve Hayes said...

You'd be most welcome to join -- more information on how to join here: Notes from underground: NeoInklings discussion forum

I'm really quite excited about the thought of Williams films.

Veronica Mitchell said...

Exciting news about Williams' novels. I would definitely watch those movies.

I don't think That Hideous Strength would easily transfer to movies. So much of it concerns the bureaucracy and boredom of evil. I would not want to sit through that.

John B. said...

Ms. Admonit,
Because you were kind enough to visit my humble blog, I thought I would return the favor.

This post reminds me, in fact, that in my response to your comment at my place I could also have mentioned a return to (serious) fantasy as being a clear trend in literature of late. I also enjoyed the Pullman trilogy, but I have to admit that I have some trepidation about the film(s?), given the richness of those novels.

Thanks again for visiting my blog. I look forward to visiting here again.

Iambic Admonit said...

Here is a follow-up to that brief discussion of films on CW novels.

In the Charles Williams Quarterly No. 134, there is a council meeting report of Feb. 13th.

"The Secretary reported that Namesake Entertainments, who own the film rights to most of CW's novels, had been planning to film 'All Hallows' Eve,' but the financial crisis had meant that hoped-for finance had been withdrawn. If any had $850,000 to spare, they would be glad to hear."