Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Temis the Vorta, Jun 25, 2010.
Are you referring to Way in the Middle of the Air?
I remember seeing that mini series as a kid and being completely creeped out by the Martian's face/mask
Well, that's a matter of opinion. It's an opinion I disagree with, but that's irrelevant to my actual point. My point is that the intent of the film was to serve as a rough prequel to the anthology rather than an adaptation of any specific part of it, though naturally poetic license was taken with the concept to adapt it for the screen and for a very different style of storytelling. And what I was saying was that, in general, in the abstract, I think that is an interesting and valid way to go about making a film based on an anthology. To me, the idea of bringing a fictional universe to the screen by creating a new story meant to complement the existing tales is more interesting than the idea of just doing a note-for-note adaptation of a story that's already been told. It's something I'd like to see done more often.
Although the movie wasn't directly based on a specific one of Asimov's robot stories, I thought it did a good job of following the pattern he often used for them. Like many of his robot stories, this one was a mystery that revolved around a robot or robots behaving in a way they are not expected to do, and as was often the case in his stories, the solution was based on an unexpected result of the three laws of robotics. I liked that.
Right, exactly. It was more of a new entry in the series than a remake of an existing part of it. Except that it was told in the vein of an action-adventure blockbuster rather than the more sedate, talky drawing-room mystery style of Asimov's stories -- which, let's face it, would not translate too well to the screen.
Just to touch on the topic, a Martian Chronicles film would have a similar problem. Like I, Robot, TMC isn't a single tale, it's a collection of a large number of very different short stories that are only linked by having to do with Mars and only have a very tenuous, approximate sense of continuity connecting them. There aren't really any continuing characters or plotlines in it. For the '80s miniseries, Richard Matheson had to restructure it so that some characters recurred throughout, combining the lead characters from multiple separate stories in the anthology into the same lead character or having that character drop by to visit some other guy before he goes off on his own story, or whatever. And even so, it still felt kind of disjointed.
So maybe trying to adapt the whole of The Martian Chronicles is a bad idea for a movie. It might be better to go a route similar to I, Robot, to construct a single new story that conveys similar ideas and themes and tone, rather than trying to retell the plot(s) of the original.
Meh. Except that VIKI's interpretation of the Laws of Robotics completely jumps the shark, completely negates Asimov's robot series, and the Zeroth Law of Robotics does not have any analog in Asimov's universe until the fourth book in the Foundation series at the earliest, tens of thousands of years in the future.
Therefore, at best, the movie I, Robot is not a prequel to Asimov's series, but rather it sets up a completely divergent universe, "inspired" by his works. At worst, it exploits Asimov's reputation as a brand to help push the film.
So? How is that in any way a bad thing? Blade Runner is radically different from its source, and it's one of the finest SF movies ever made.
It is a mistake to assume that the point of an adaptation is to copy the original. That would be a waste of time and effort. The point of an adaptation is to adapt -- to take an idea that exists in one form and transform it into something new and different.
It should be taken as read that a movie based on a book series -- or particularly one based on an anthology, something it would be impossible to translate exactly -- is going to change things and create something different from the source. That's nothing to complain about in and of itself. If the new story manages to get across the core elements and ideas of the original, then that is what matters, regardless of how different the details are. After all, this is fiction, not reality. None of it actually happened, so it's kind of pointless to harp on whether the details are accurate. Hell, even historical fiction is understood to have the right to take liberties with real events and people if it serves the story.
It is not necessarily a bad thing. It's really just that you said this:
Nope. No way. The film is not a prequel. It can't lead into the source material. That tie was broken in the grandiose "climax" of the film. If you look back through what I said, that was my point.
Edit: In fairness, I will take the scare quotes off of the term "inspired". So, please allow me to revise what I said to be
The 80's Martian Chronicles was pretty dull - I believe that even Ray Bradbury thought so. However, the final few minutes when Rock Hudson took his children to meet the Martians was fabulous.
Spoiler: last scene
He showed them their own reflections in a Martian canal.
They can spruce up the stories all they like but it'd be great to retain a scene such as that.
And my point is that you and I can have different opinions on that point, and neither of us is "wrong," because it's subjective. Debating our personal opinions on how well the film fits with the stories is a pointless exercise, is irrelevant to the actual point I was making, and is inappropriately off-topic for a thread on The Martian Chronicles. So can we please drop it?
I still have a question on the table:
Is the I, Robot film based on anything Asimov wrote? Of course not. Does it work as part of his future history? Absolutely. The film works very well as a prequel to Asimov's Robots/Empire/Foundation future. The events of the film posit a reason for Earth humanity's hatred of robots -- robots gone amock would leave lasting memories. I, Robot wasn't intended as an Asimovian film (it began as an unrelated script called "Hardwired"), but it hits Asimovian themes of logic and free-will that I have no trouble accepting it as a legitimate take on his world.
It's been a long time since I read The Martian Chronicles. Although I remember some of the stories fairly well, I don't remember any particular one that seemed unadaptable. Which was it and why could it never be adapted for film or TV?
Way in the Middle of the Air
Wow, yet another thread I forgot I ever started. Well I guess it was worth it since this movie might pan out after all.
That story was first published in 1950 and meant to take place in 2003 (later pushed back to 2034 when it became part of The Martian Chronicles). It was actually an anti-racism statement at a time when the civil rights movement was just beginning, but it’s ridiculously dated today -- projecting the situation of blacks in the South 50 or more years into the future with nothing changed at all.
It does reflect some social history of the US in the 50's, but that aspect would fly over the heads of many and the story would probably be regarded as insulting and patronising. Best left out - though it does smack of PC censorship.
I think there's a way that elements of the story could be adapted in a way that is relevant today...perhaps a story about a racist person (or group of persons) - but instead of blacks, it's one who hates Mexicans and such, and who is very, very strongly against immigration - even legal immigration - from Mexico (and perhaps other countries) and perhaps spends his time championing anti-immigration laws...(maybe even the character is a very, very anti-immigrant - and a closet racist - politician...)
Then he discovers that ALL the migrant workers who work in the fields and factories they own and such are leaving...and he doesn't know where...and he realizes that it's hurting him economically -- and then he discovers that the immigrants to America are now choosing to become immigrants to Mars instead - where immigration is much easier (in part because if the anti-immigration laws he championed...and so, like the character in the original story, he tries to stop some of the immigrants to Mars...
Yeah. Unfortunately, it's still a timely story.
I don't remotely buy the idea that it was whitewashed out of the book just because it wasn't timely anymore, in the first place because it's still timely. In the second place, well, to be blunt, eliminating it from the text fits a pattern all too common.
Using Mexicans in an update is a great idea. Good job, bryce.
Separate names with a comma.