Posted in Movie, Music, Prose

I Am Going On An Adaptation Adventure

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I have been comparing and contrasting the book and movies of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit a lot lately. I have watched the movies before I read the novel, believing that reading the book first would ruin the movies for me. And boy, I was right. Don’t get me wrong, the movies were really entertaining and I really enjoyed them. However, the mood of the movies is really different than the book. I believe that one song from “An Unexpected Journey” sums up the whole adaptation process of the book.

When I mentioned a song from the first movie, probably “The Misty Mountains Cold” came to your mind. It was pretty iconic as it is the main theme of the first film, having appeared in the trailer. In the books, it is one of the various songs dwarves sing-however it is the crown jewel. In the book, the song is 10 stanzas long and written in iambic tetrameter. So we can say that it is very conventional, both content and form-wise. This song invokes an image of the Misty Mountains; it describes the lives of dwarves back in the day and the general topography of the forest area. Although it is not that old, as in the last line of the last stanza goes “to win our harps and gold from him.” This him here is clearly Smaug. And for those who know nothing about what had taken place, like Bilbo himself, it is a very nice way to tell the reader. As up until that point in the novel, they have been really odd and secretive (arriving one by one, unannounced) and Bilbo feels confused and irritated. [Well to be fair, dwarves had eaten everything he has and has not offered, I’d be pretty furious too.]But when they start singing, “something Tookish woke up inside him” and that’s how Bilbo decides to join their journey. Normally hobbits are not very adventurous rather creatures of routine, but they invoke an image of the mountains in Bilbo and move his kind little heart, he cannot resist. The thing here is that the song is accompanied by instruments the dwarves carry: Fili and Kili on fiddles; Dori, Nori and Ori on flutes; Bombur on drum; Bifur and Bofur on clarinets; Dwalin and Balin on viols, and finally Thorin with his golden harp. So this creates a “sweet” sound, according to Bilbo at least. What I imagined here was a very uplifting, upbeat, heroic song. Just like how it is in “The Company Theme.” That adds to the hope and confidence the dwarves feel and foreshadows their heroism along the way and in the Battle of Five Armies.

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Look at these bad boys. It is from my copy, illustrated by Jemima Catlin.

The first movie is all about establishing the importance of the Misty Mountains and how dwarves were displaced. The main focus is obviously on the gold-dwarves are all about the money. So rather than showing how greedy the dwarves really are, the movies dramatise their past. Whereas in the book, they get to trust and like Bilbo throughout the journey, but still they are whiny, greedy and generally ill-mannered. So this shift from their greed to their suffering shows itself in the lyrics of the song. The song is two stanzas long, and apart from a small change is taken directly from the book, but given the title “Misty Mountains,” which the book version lacked.

Far over the Misty Mountains cold

To dungeons deep and caverns old

We must away ere break of day

To find our long forgotten gold

 

The pines were roaring on the hight

The winds were moaning in the night

There the fire was red it flaming spread

The trees like torches blazed with light

The only different thing here is “to find our long forgotten gold.” In the book, that first stanza is repeated with a variation in the last line. The two variations are: “to seek the pale enchanted gold” and “to claim our long forgotten gold.” Enchanted and claim are keys words here. They point to the fascination of dwarves with gold and their greediness. The real reason behind why Thorin Oakenshield wants his home back is not because he is homesick, but because of all the gold on which Smaug sleeps. Also pale and enchanted remind me of the Arkenstone.

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The Arkenstone from the movie. 

“Claim”ing also refer to his greed as well; just before the Battle of Five Armies, Bard and Co try to negotiate with Thorin, claiming a part of the treasure for themselves. Yet again Thorin rejects, and rather than sharing it he’d remain stuck in the mountain. But in the movie version the verb find lightens this. Finding implies a search, yes, but it also means that they don’t know where it is or that they are not truly after it. The song is not accompanied by instruments, Richard Armitage sings it solo. The scene is pretty dark, the dark has fallen and they all sit around the fireplace. With a elegy like tone and baritone of Armitage added to the cozy darkness, the song metamorphoses into a song of longing and suffering.

 

Whilst the book has a lighter tone in general and things happen rapidly one after the other, I felt more peaceful reading it. Narrator’s language is witty and funny, and although it is action pack we don’t get to see the gruesome parts. So I’d say it can pass as a children’s book. However, the movies have more fighting and action scenes, additional characters and events. It was more of a trendy Avengers-esque movie. I think I will speak for all of us who I say that introducing a love between a dwarf and an elf was such a cheesy, Hollywood-like move. They didn’t have to have three movies for god’s sake. When I first read The Hobbit  I was surprised at the flow of events, very rapid with no unnecessary characters. Yes the movies were darker and turned the tone a tad more serious. They were nice to watch at the movie theatre with 3D, but if you haven’t read the book be sure to do so. It is much more enjoyable than the money grubbing, dwarfish excuse of a prequel. If you’d ask me, I would have to say that the movie adaptation is an unsuccessful one. I would like to quote Linda Hutcheon on this:

Perhaps one way to think about unsuccessful adaptations is not in terms of infidelity to a prior text, but in terms of a lack of the creativity and skill to make the text one’s own and thus autonomous.

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Posted in Movie

Fantastic Spinoffs and Where to Watch Them

BEWARE! FANTASTIC SPOILERS AND HOW TO AVOID THEM (I really don’t know what people consider as spoiler)

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I could only wait for two days before writing about “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” I have to say, I had my prejudices against it way before it was filmed. I felt like (still kinda feel like) Rowling was turning “the world of Harry Potter” into one of those franchises that go on and on for more money. Don’t get me wrong, when I first heard that there was gonna be a spinoff, I was really excited. It could be about the marauders, the rise of Voldemort, the founding of Hogwarts or even next generation. So the idea of Harry’s textbook turning into a whole new series did not really sit well with me. Although I have to say, the atmosphere was awesome, there even were people in cloaks (Me? I wore my Weasley sweater and Gryffindor scarf-the stuff for Fantastic Beast is scarce right now, fingers crossed for upcoming collectibles). The energy was also high, the whole theatre laughed at the same time, everyone was obviously Harry Potter fans (based on their age and accessory) and everyone was discussing and speculating during the ten minute break. At this point I think it is pretty safe to say that the Potter Fandom is back for good!

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I did my homework before watching the movie, that is Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and the one under The Creature Vault

First of all, let’s get something straight: this is not a prequel to the series but a spinoff. The difference between those is that, prequel tells the story of what had happened previous to the plot whereas spinoff is having another character/story line that was mentioned in the original plot and building upon it. Hence we see Newt Scamander, who was only mentioned as an author in the series, as a fully developed character at the beginning of his real career (he normally works for Ministry of Magic) in 1926. I couldn’t really picture how they could turn the story of a man who dedicated his life to beasts, beings and spirits (oh, believe me there is a difference) into not one, not three but five movies (so my first spoiler: there will be four more movies). There, Rowling as a writer comes into the picture thankfully (she was the one who wrote the screenplay) and you can see her penmanship in some scenes (Newt’s mating dance was certainly one of those. I can picture her writing it down). That also means that we will have a nice plot that does not have various plot holes and stupidity (I am looking at Cursed Child here). Although it is based on Newt’s adventures, the side plot, the rise of Grindelwald to power, is pretty exciting since we haven’t really read much on it. We see him in America, trying to recruit followers slyly (and the symbol for the deathly hallows makes an appearance). I don’t know in which movie it will be, but we will definitely see a showdown between Dumbledore and Grindelwald and from Rowling’s own writing, I am sure that it will be magical. (at this point I may as well admit to it, YES I loved the movie) Untitled.pngBut for now what  I can only say is how awesome Johnny Depp looks as Gellert Grindelwald in his cameo. He is a little bit old for the Grindelwald I had in mind, though it is based on the younger movie version. Considering Dumbledore’s age, Depp’s looks are pretty accurate. He looks like the sophisticated yet murderous villain in the end of the movie (his one and only appearance in the first movie) and adding his acting skills, I am sure that he will create a unique take on Grindelwald and make us love it.

The beasts were simply, for a lack of a better term, magical. When I read Fantastic Beasts at home, I really couldn’t picture them, thank Merlin we have technology! There is nothing I can say against the representation of them-I absolutely especially loved the thunderbird (which happens to be my house in Ilvermorny). There is one inconsistency though, in the preface of his book Scamander states that there are 75 beasts he was able to include in the 52nd edition, however we encounter species in Fantastic Beasts movie that were not listed in the book which were the swooping evil, thunderbird and nundu. And from what I have seen, we will encounter many more that were not originally listed. Let me just mention the first photograph above before I forget. That is the suitcase of Newt which is full of beasts (that part is also problematic. You see he carries their habitats in them. Is that even possible? Sure with an undetectable extension charm you can carry loads of things but isn’t there a limit to it? Add this to the questions I would like to as Rowling if I ever meet her one day) and the whole chaos ensues from there, like the hat of The Cat In the Hat. That claw belongs to a niffler which is a being known for its love for anything shiny (yes kinda like a Tolkienesque dragon) and this one here is particularly mischievous and that one photograph aptly sums up the whole series.

We weren’t able to see anything related to Ilvermorny yet which is the American school of witchcraft and wizardry (you can read its history on Pottermore). Although Newt and Queenie had a punny (see what I did there) dialogue: Queenie claims that Ilvermorny is the best school in the world, Newt as a proud Hufflepuff defends Hogwarts and says it is the best-as all the audience did. Queenie then replies with “Hogwash.” (which means nonsense and is a pun) Ilvermorny was actually modeled on Hogwarts by its founder Isolt Sayre who happens to be a descendant of Salazar Slytherin himself, so get your facts straight first Queenie! I also have to give credit to Newt here, who proudly shows support for his house throughout via his black and yellow scarf (also another question to as Rowling: if Scamander was expelled, how come he still carries his wand with him?) Also he befriends a muggle, Jacob Kowalski, and they have their adventures like an improved version of Sherlock and Watson. (another spoiler: Jacob has a thing with Queenie. I wonder if they’d cause any change in the law in America in upcoming movies.)

Aside from all these entertaining and nice things, we also encounter a harsh, dark counterpart. In 1920s America, it was illegal for a wizard/witch to have any relation with a no-maj (American version of muggle which is abbreviated version of “no magic”). Thus, we see the Salem witch hunting (muggles’ negative fanaticism this time around), direct conflict between magic and non-magic worlds (the death of Senator Shaw) and the unreliableness of people in power-nothing we haven’t seen in the original series. She founded a very solid base in the first movie for the upcoming ones, I don’t think we will ever be bored with them.

All in all, it was really good to be back in the movie theatre watching a Harry Potter movie. I got chills when I first heard “Hedwig’s Theme” and I never realized I have missed hearing in and watching the logo of Warner Bros come into focus slowly. The plot was also good, unsurprisingly really, and I can’t wait to be back in the theatre to watch the second one again! And one final note for those who don’t want to watch the movie, the script was released a book as of yesterday so you may wanna check that out.