Thursday, February 09, 2006

Pratchett on film, Tolkien books

Terry Pratchett's novel Hogfather is being made into a 2-part, 4-hour film which will be shown on Sky One, the British cable channel at Christmas. This will be the first time that any of Pratchett's hugely successful Discworld books (which have sold more than 45 million copies and made the author a triple millionaire (at the last count), have been brought to life on the screen by real actors. David Jason will lead the cast as Albert, Death's assistant, a grumpy 65-year-old wizard.

When he was asked why it had taken so long for one of his novels to be filmed, Pratchett admitted:

"I'm not a very easy person to negotiate with. The books make me a lot of money and I have very much enjoyed writing them. You have to give up a lot of control for the movies and I can't quite bring myself to do it. TV is more fun than movies, because you can get involved more, because these people are close at hand."

Ian Richardson, who starred in the Andrew Davies TV adaptation of Michael Dobbs's book House of Cards, will provide the voice of Death, a regular character in Pratchett's books, although an unnamed 6ft 7in Dutchman will play Death in person.

Pratchett has been closely involved with the feature, which is being shot in Romania because of the need for vast studio space and ready access to mountain scenery. Johnny and the Bomb, a non-Discworld children's novel by Pratchett, has just been shown on BBC1; it starred Zoe Wanamaker. It followed an earlier live action adaption of Johnny and the Dead, the prequel to Johnny and the Bomb and second in the Johnny Maxwell trilogy. Previously animated versions of the Discworld novels Soul Music and Wyrd Sisters were made for Channel 4.

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The following fairly new books have caught my eye:

Reading "The Lord of the Rings": New Writings on Tolkien's Trilogy
edited by Robert Eaglestone (Continuum, 2005) is a serious, scholarly book which includes an introduction by Michael D C Drout (editor of the forthcoming The J. R. R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment to which I have contributed); an essay called "Modernity" by Michael Moses; an essay called "Anglo-Saxon Women, Tolkien's Women" by Jennifer Neville and an essay called "After Tolkien" by Roz Kaveney (who is best known for her work on Buffy and Angel).

The Keys of Middle-Earth: Discovering Medieval Literature Through the Fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien by Stuart Lee and Elizabeth Solopova (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005). Both the authors teach at Oxford University; Stuart also instigated the Virtual Seminars on World War One Poetry and its discussion forum, whilst Elizabeth works in the Department of Western Manuscripts at the Bodleian Library. The book takes incidents from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and matches them to incidents in Medieval Literature.

Finally, The Return of the Hero: Rowling, Tolkien and Pullman by Christopher Wrigley (Book Guild Ltd, 2005). This books has one chapter on each of the three authors. I've just added all three books to my library list (none are in stock so I shall have to request that they be ordered before i can read them.)

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Just spotted this on Bookmoot: The Potter Index references every single word or phrase in the Harry Potter books by book and page number, although it only refers to the US editions at present. Apparently it will also reference the UK editions by the summer.


Kelly said...

Interesting article on Pratchett, Michele. It seems more and more creative people (including actors, writers, and the like) are choosing television over film for creative puruits.

Michele said...

Well personally I don't blame Terry for not wanting to leave his lovely Wiltshire home for Tinseltown, where they never give you as much creative control over your work if you're the writer... (Or so I gather from what I've read !) I'm just very surprised that both Hogfather and The Wee Free Men are now being made, given Terry's stated antipathy (as recently as last Spring) to having films of his books made. Still, I guess if he's offered more control and he believes the film-makers will do a good job, it's not that surprising that he should change his mind.

Anonymous said...

Keys of Middle-Earth is well-worth getting if you are interested in the medieval sources which lie behind Tolkien's fiction. I'm reading it now and only wish I had it when I studied English at college.


Michele said...

I believe you're right. I looked at the Bodleian's copy last week and could see it would be fascinating, so it's now on my Amazon wishlist.