Friday, 1 June 2007

Read it before you see it

Computer grief goes on - I can log on to this blog from an Apple Mac but not from my laptop, which is very galling as it's more convenient for me. Initially, everything was fine - then a couple of weeks ago the laptop refused to let me past, flagging up a privacy report. When I try to circumvent the problem by asking it to 'allow' my log in, I just go round and round the houses and nothing happens - it's still listed as restricted. Aarggh! `If anyone has any advice, I'd welcome it.

In the news this week: first, you remember that I drew attention to the horrors (in my opinion, my ever-so-'umble opinion Mr Copperfield) of the Dickens theme park in Chatham. Now I read in The Times ( about the Harry Potter park to be built by Warner Brothers and Universal studios in Orlando (where else?) 'The film-makers believe that they can recreate the dream of every child reader, and probably a few million adults too, who have imagined themselves flying in a game of Quidditch or walking into Hogwarts School ...' Do you lie awake at night, wishing you were astride a Nimbus 2000?

We are promised 'fully immersive' experiences to recreate the magic of Rowling's imagination with illusions like computerised figures that appear and disappear - and the vice-president of Unversal Creative Studios is quoted as saying 'This will allow people to have an experience unlike one they have been able to imagine before. What we're creating is an entire world. A place where magic happens.' Forgive me, but I thought that had already been achieved, by means of the relatively inexpensive mode of the er, actual, books.

I am at present reading Philip Pullman's 'Northern Lights' to my boys because I want them to know the story before the film (annoyingly called 'The Golden Compass') comes out and sets their visions in stone. It's too late with regard to 'The Lord of the Rings' - if they ever get round to reading it, the landscape and characters have been pre-envisioned for them. Although I think Peter Jackson did a damn fine job, it's sad to think that millions of viewers are missing out on what, for me, is one of the marvellous aspects of writing - that the writer presents powerful images which the reader then responds to in their own individual way. My children are part of a generation where it's all done for them: scene, gesture, background music. I think Viggo Mortenson is a brilliant Aragorn - but before he came along I had a vision of Aragorn myself and the two co-exist in my brain, like hearing two different piano players interpret a famous sonata. It's interesting that the publishers of the Narnia stories used the line 'Read it before you see it' before the film of 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' came out.

Maybe I'm wrong: Barry Meyer, chairman of Warner Bros, claims 'Over the years, we have received thousands of letters from fans wishing they could visit Hogwarts and the wonderful locations described in each of J.K. Rowling's beloved stories.' But for me, all that's needed is an armchair, no interruptions, a glorious book to lose myself in and an active and responsive imagination - my reaction to the words on the page is the interactivity that satisfies me. I don't need some jobbing actor dressed up as Fagin or a wander through 'snow-covered Hogsmeade village'.

Then again, if I do publiish my children's book and anyone wants to come along and buy the film rights ...!

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