Any authors out there dream of having their book turned into a “connected cinematic narrative represented in a sequence of photographs projected onto a screen with sufficient rapidity as to create the illusion of motion and continuity”? I know I do. But much as I would love to see “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” up on the big screen, I’ve been disappointed by enough movies based on… er, inspired by… um, mutilating the source material found in books, that I would approach any potential movie deal with great caution and firm stipulations regarding my involvement in the project. I can predict all too easily what would happen with my back turned…
1) Charming, jocular Will Scarlet would be dragged over the line separating “cool, fun character” to “annoying character who thinks he’s funny, but seriously, nobody’s laughing”. Heck, knowing Hollywood, they’d make him Black, if they could get away with it, disrespecting both Will Scarlet and the Black community in one sick-making move…
2) Meanwhile, the sexual tension between Will and Marion would be through the roof – expect at least one kissing scene, maybe worse – even though in the book, both of them know how to keep that kind of nonsense under control for the sake of her marriage to his cousin/leader and the wellbeing of the Merry Men as a whole.
3) Speaking of Marion, do I even want to know what they’d do to her? It could go one of two ways: She’ll either a) be so worthless that you can tell that the only reason they didn’t write her out was so she could hookup with Will, or b) she’ll act like, as the only technical Merry Woman, she somehow has something to prove, and be a bothersome rhymes-with-“witch” (and, ironically, she’ll still be worthless).
4) Casting will screw me over at every turn. The actors playing the North Wind (if they bother to include him, which somehow I rather doubt) and Little John will not be imposing enough. They’ll get some “big name” actress to play Morganne le Fey and then give her way more face time than the book ever did, just to make it worth the several thousands it took to hire her. Anyone who’s supposed to be good-looking will be… by Hollywood standards… which half the time reads “not so much” or even “downright eew” to me. (If they have Kristin Stewart playing Marion, I will scream fit to wake the dead, I kid you not.)
5) They’ll probably make it so Allyn really is conversing with his dead father’s ghost or something, instead of it all just being in his head. …Or maybe they’ll act like those imaginary conversations mean that Allyn is truly delusional. Either way = wrong.
6) They’ll no doubt overly-simplify the “villain” and his/her/its motivations. For all I know, they’ll make the wrong (and perhaps painfully obvious) person the one whodunit, just so they can get away with editing out a few characters.
7) There will be some dramatic final battle I never wrote between Allyn and whoever they select as the baddie, and Allyn will come out on top by some really contrived, stupid means. Yay, hooray, the Faire is saved, too bad no intelligent viewer could care less at this point.
8) They won’t include any of my song numbers. *massive frown-y face*
In conclusion: Hollywood is making this movie without my final say-so over my dead body.
How ‘bout the rest of you? What’s your book-to-film experience been like?
And for the writers in the house, what are your thoughts regarding your books’ possible translation to another medium?