From book to movie –
I’ve had an epiphany concerning the adaption John Carter of Mars to the screen. I’ve read a lot screenplays, some good, most kind of stunk, but they all the same thing in common, they had to deal with Zodanga, a lack of a villain in the story, or the too late arrival of one. So no matter how close they stick to the text of the book, this is still an issue. My other pondering is more personal, more an observation about John Carter the soldier, in the text and on screen. Anyways, with a slight edit from version posted elsewhere, my thoughts below –
I had posted on “thejohncaterfiles” about a JC review, I wrote too much and have really only dropped in a portion it. Now here I’m using an even more cropped version but I have 2 ideas I want to toss out there. So here they are.
1- “He is an ex-soldier of clear-cut principle”
I suspect that for some readers, Carter having been a soldier MEANS a lot to them. For them there’s a huge bag of associations and expectations attached to the soldier thing that are not in the text but certainly exist for those readers. Their John Carter and my John Carter are somewhat separate beings. All it means to me is that he’s a man of action who’s got mad crazy sword skills and experience. But I have read fairly long posts about who John Carter IS as a man of honour and more of those kinds of words. I kind of tune out around there, but what I am getting, is what they see in the character and what I do are very different things. I find this reality quite fascinating.
2 – There seems to be little awareness ( from writers non-the-less ) how even adapted in it’s most general form for the screen – it would suck. A Princess of Mars reads well, but I think the problem with adapting the book, is THE BOOK. This has challenged film makers as much as the technical challenge of the green martians.
The first half is about the Planet of the Tharks and proceeds at an fairly intimate and detailed pace. The second half removes John from all of those characters ( Tars Tarkas, Woola, Sola, Dejah Thoris ) – aren’t those the ones you think of when you think of A Princess of Mars ? From there on the book is a travelogue of locations and new characters (almost) completely divorced from the first half of the novel.
There is the Warhoon arena, atmosphere plant, wandering to Zodanga, flying around Zodanga, finding Dejah, finding Tars, looting Zodanga, atmosphere plant again… all in the second half of the book. The rescue of Dejah ( looting of Zodnaga ) is 90% of the way into the story. No wonder ( even as kid ) it seemed rushed to me.
So back to the movie – the movie has incorporated Zodanga, scheming and plotting from the second half of the book throughout the story. As the book reads, both John Carter and the reader are unaware of any of this until they half way through the story. Obviously this dictates some heavy restructuring.
I’m cutting off here. As I said, I have work to do. But thoughts about this ? I feel like I’ve just cracked something that has been nagging me for years – Jeff