Monday, May 10, 2010

Put It On The Big Screen

by Julia Buckley
As a part of my Mother's Day festivities, my family took me to see Iron Man II. Yes, this was really for me, because I really liked Iron Man I and wanted to see the sequel.

After I saw the first Iron Man, I wrote this about it: "To me, Tony Stark, the arms dealer who becomes Iron Man, could have been a character written by Sophocles, if Sophocles could be brought to Hollywood and asked to write a screenplay (and I'm sure Sophocles would have a lot to say about Hollywood . . .)

Stark is a flawed man, a man who may have wasted his life in the pursuit of power and pleasure. But he has a moment of redemption, and that moment fuels a new passion. Still, he remains flawed, and the Ancient Greeks would suggest that he must take responsibility for those flaws, no matter how often he himself is a victim, and no matter that he has changed his worldview. He will always be burdened by his past.

I like the fact that a modern-day movie raises some of the questions of the ages: Why does power so often corrupt? Why do people seek to solve problems with ever-escalating violence? Where is the logic in thinking that we can make weapons ever larger, ever more powerful, and can somehow still remain unscathed?"

Today, when I saw the new Iron Man, I was impressed by the way that special effects can take a person right inside his or her own imagination. When I saw the villainous Russian, Ivan Vanko, forging his own iron costume, I saw Hephaestus in the forge on Mount Olympus, creating his own revenge for a wife's betrayal.

And then I wondered--what great works would I like to see brought to the big screen now that special effects can really make things live up to our imaginations?

The first thing I thought of was Oedipus Rex. If you read this in high school or college, you remember that Oedipus had to conquer the Sphinx. How wonderful it would be to see a modern day Oedipus walk up to a creature of power and mystery--a lion's body with a woman's face--who knows the secrets of the universe?

Then I thought of other great works with potentially great visuals: THE TEMPEST, for one. But I don't have to just dream about that one. It's being made right now, with the great Helen Mirren in the role of PROSPERA (as opposed to the traditionally male Prospero). One can only hope they do amazing things with special effects to create Ariel and Caliban, the airy sprite and the earthy monster. Not to mention all of the island spirits who do Prospero's bidding.

And what about The Odyssey? Sure, there have been versions of this in the past, but this spring's remake of Clash of the Titans proves that some things, in the wake of Computer Generated Images, can and should be re-made for the most powerful visual appeal.

A more modern book that I'd love to see as a movie is Jasper Fforde's THE EYRE AFFAIR. In this wonderful, whimsical story, Thursday Next solves lit crimes and must leap inside various pieces of literature to capture the evil Acheron Hades, who has captured Jane Eyre. While she leaps about from book to book, Thursday is immersed in the literature she grew up reading. What possibilities exist here in terms of what we would see! The artistic talents of Hollywood are at the level now that they might actually do justice to the pictures created by our powerful imaginations.

So, in this roundabout post, I come down to one main question: What piece of literature would you like to see brought to life, or brought to life again, on the screen?


Sandra Parshall said...

I guess this is one way -- maybe the only way -- to get kids interested in the stories from classic literature. But don't tell them what the films are based on. They'll run in the opposite direction!

Julia Buckley said...

Haha. As a reader, though, I always had spectacular visual images of what I read, and sometimes it's nice to see someone else's visual interpretation.