A Slice of Fried Gold

Creative License

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My boys Yorick and Ampersand

Sometimes when adapting something to film, liberties must be taken to make something work in the scope of the project. A great example of that happening are with the Harry Potter movies. They have managed to cut massive books into very entertaining films that capture the essence of the books very well. It is very possible to make these extremely pared down versions of the story work, and work well. It just takes a group of people who are passionate about the project and know what it takes to make it work.

With the film adaptation of comic series Y the Last Man, I thought we had someone who was really trying to make it work in DJ Caruso. He was saying all the right things in interviews, talking about how he was dealing directly with series writer/creator Brian K. Vaughan, how he was looking to make a trilogy so he can capture everything into the series, and how he is just a passionate fan of it. Even with his seemingly unflinching desire to have Shia LaBeouf star as Yorick Brown, I liked what I was hearing.

Until recently that is, when I read a couple interviews with him. In this article, Caruso talks about how he is going to separate Yorick and Ampersand (his pet capuchin monkey) early on to increase dramatic tension - both in the fact that the partnership is broken and in the fact that Yorick will become sick. Extremely frustrating.

Even more frustrating? In this interview, Caruso discusses removing the entire Beth "subplot." Beth subplot? You mean the entire driving force behind the series? You mean the entire reason why Yorick and his motley crew travel around the world? Subplot! Excuse me, but my faith in this project is all of a sudden extinct.

To top that off, word on the street (from people who have been to screenings for the film) about the new Harry Potter is saying that not only are we not going to get a funeral at the end of Half Blood Prince for one of the biggest characters in the story, but the entire structure of the finale has pretty much been altered to form an entirely new finale - and by that, I mean they might as well have erased the last 150 pages of the book and rewritten it. Because you know, that's what they did.

I understand having to make hard decisions to make the movie palatable to the average viewer (you know, the one who doesn't want to watch 4 hours of Harry Potter), but come on. There must be 300 pages of snogging in the sixth book. Can't we cut some of that? Can't we trim the fat elsewhere, as opposed to butchering the most important section of the book?

Creative license is a necessary evil in almost every adaptation. It just has to happen and with every beloved project that comes to fruition (because face it, Hollywood is out of original ideas), we face the possibility of the project falling into the wrong hands. Two personal favorites are looking hard at questionable futures, and it's disappointing. In my opinion, these stories worked so well the first time through, why can't they work well on the screen under the current alignments (especially Y, which is based in a visual medium)?

Perhaps that would just be too easy.


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