Everyone up to speed on The Golden Compass rhubarb? Claims are that the new film adaptation tends to soft-shoe some of the pretty clearly anti-fundamentalist religion elements in Philip Pullman's source novel. Here's Ryan Stewart's Cinematical item on Nicole Kidman going public with the "watering down" last August. Now, on MTV's movie blog, director Chris Weitz reaches for a time-tested defense: "Philip Pullman likes to quote James M. Cain on this issue. Once, when somebody asked him if he was worried what a movie adaptation would do to his book, he said, `What do you mean? The book is right over there, on the shelf.'"
Now, let me digress for a second. The only time I ever met Allen Ginsberg (wonderfully played by David Cross in I'm Not There, BTW), I wasted my thirty seconds in his presence listening to the same comment regarding Cronenberg's Naked Lunch. When a sage like Ginsberg says this bit about the unruined book you listen. But here's other claimants: In the blog Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule, a correspondent is complaining about V for Vendetta, a film disowned by the source writer Alan Moore: "I keep meeting people who love this movie and my only solace in my bitterness after seeing what they did to Moore's brilliant work is a quote from the author himself:
"Interviewer: 'How do you feel about Hollywood ruining your work?'
Moore: 'What are you talking about, they didn't ruin my work, it is right up there on the shelf.'"
Here, a person worried about the then-upcoming film of Lord of the Rings cites Stephen King as the one who knows where his unruined books are, right on the shelf; here, it is Larry Niven calming the fears of those who feel his book Ringworld will be ruined as a film. Just for good measure, from the Portland, Oregon blog "Book Pusher," is a list of five good books that are waiting to be ruined, and the best way to ruin them. Can you wait for the The Farrelly Brother's wild comedy Me Talk Pretty Some Day with Adrien Brody as David Sedaris (does the hero have to be gay)?
My point is: let's don't hear this time-worn excuse anymore. Here's one from Evelyn Waugh instead: "Each book purchased for motion pictures has some individual quality, good or bad, that has made it remarkable. It is the work of a great array of highly paid and incompatible writers to distinguish this quality, separate it, and obliterate it."