Well, fellow US authors, it's getting to be that time of year again. It's almost October and when the rest of the world is gearing up for the insanity that is the Holiday Season, we writers sit down to our computers and begin the 50,000 word journey that is NANOWRIMO! (National Novel Writing Month.) If you haven't gotten yourself signed up yet, or if you'd like to try your hand at writing very nearly a whole novel in 30 days, click here!
I was thumbing through my Netflix account the other night and a friend and I were talking about good movies to check out. I suggested the BBC remake of Charles Dickens' "Bleak House." I had to caution her because, on Netflix, there are at least two versions of Bleak House, probably more, and I wanted to be sure she found the one I really liked.
That got me to thinking: Many books are turned into movies over and over, either in true to novel form or in some sort of "inspired by the novel" form. (Shakespeare inspires way more movies than you might think he does. My personal favorite is a little thing known as "Scotland, PA."
Then I started thinking about just how many versions of "Pride and Prejudice" or "Wuthering Heights" there are out there, which brought me to my other favorite novel of all time, "Gone with the Wind."
While there might be countless versions of Jane Austen's, Charles Dickens', or the Bronte Sisters' classics, there is only one "Gone With the Wind."
I'm sure "GWTW" isn't the only classic novel that's only been movied (it's a word...I just made it up) once, but other than recent blockbusters like Harry Potter or Twilight, I can't think of any. Meanwhile, as we approach Christmas, how many movie versions of "A Christmas Carol" will YOU be watching?
Sometimes it's a matter of getting it wright. I realize I'm in the minority here, but I think Laurence Olivier is grossly overrated, ESPECIALLY when he plays Heathcliff. Tom Hardy or Ralph Fiennes do a far better job, but that might just be because of the times. Olivier worked when actors were just supposed to spew out lines and look good. The raw, debauched emotions of Heathcliff were hardly appropriate for movie goers back in the day, whereas now I think the movie versions are getting closer to the twisted character Emily Bronte imagined. (For the record, I think the Tom Hardy "Masterpiece Theater" version is slightly better than the Ralph Fiennes version.)
So why haven't we remade "GWTW?"
It can't just be because those are American novel. And it can't just be that it's so iconic we don't touch them...it or is?
I know we're still making Civil War movies but I know that much of the reality of the Civil War is softened or touched up or whatever in today's era of "we can't hurt anyone's feelings...ever."
I might be on to something here. See, I watched "Roots" recently, and that was made for TV when I was a kid. MADE FOR TV. My daughter, aged 16, walked into the room and was horrified that I was watching something using the "N" word.
I'm not defending that word, don't get me wrong. I don't use it, I think it's horrible. But it's a word people used in our history and I just don't think we can ever remake those cornerstone Civil War Era movies because today's sensibilities simply will not let us.
Maybe that's not a bad thing. Maybe it's okay to leave masterpieces like "GWTW" or "Roots" alone.
I mean, will there ever be anyone who can be a more perfect Rhett Butler than Clark Gable?
Let's ask Timothy Dalton.