Classics Retold: A Mash-Up of Masters (Part 1)
Melinda T. Falgoust
They say that there are no original stories left in Hollywood.
Hm. Well, let's take a look. Cinderella becomes Pretty Woman; Sleeping Beauty is soon to get a rehash as Maleficent; and little Snow White has seen a rash of incarnations in Mirror, Mirror, Snow White and the Huntsman, and - nyu, nyuk, nyuk - even Snow White and the Three Stooges.
Now, the first instinct is to thumb our nose at these reimaginings and wag an admonishing finger at the lack of originality in these next-generation inventions. The old adage comes to mind: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." But, on the flip side of that coin is another adage: "The highest form of flattery is imitation." (Although, hopefully it never surges to the "Single White Female" stage. That's a whole lotta creepy.) Perhaps there are some gems out there which, in their own way, pay their own homage to the masters who went before. Over the next few weeks, we will examine some "copycats" and see whether they have learned the lessons at the feet of the masters, or whether they are bound for sequel summer school.
The ladies at The Cheap Reader, Books Take You Places, Book Addicts Guide, Bookish Whimsy, and Excellent Library have cooked up a wonderful project to explore classic literature and its many retellings, spin-offs, or adaptions of it. They have invited bloggers across the blogosphere to participate in this month-long project and dust off some old, familiar classics...and perhaps discover some "new" ones. Well, the results have started rolling in and we invite you to discover along with us.
Here at InkSpired, the classic I hold near and dear to my heart is Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. The original tale was penned by Stevenson to entertain his young stepson, Lloyd Osborne. What resulted was a boy's adventure tale that catapulted Stevenson's career and "wrote the book" on many of the pirate conventions written about and seen in Hollywood movies today. Stevenson's classic has seen innumerable movies, television series, books and video games born from its original story. The first one I tackled (and, yes, I will admit, it is because I am a Disneyphile), is Treasure Planet (Disney, 2002).
Treasure Planet is an animated sci-fi adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic boy's adventure tale. The year 2002 must have marked a dearth of ideas for Disney, because this version of Treasure Island appeared on the scene a mere six years after they put out Muppet Treasure Island (and, yes, I will be reviewing that one, too). The story starts out as many bildungsromans do, with a young main character yearning for something bigger and better, and you can't get much bigger than space. Yep. That's right. You heard me. Space. The final frontier. The clever animators at Disney have taken 17th century England and plopped it on Montressor, an odd, crescent-shaped planet filled with dog-faced aliens calling for Alponian chowder (really?) and myopic, tentacled creatures demanding "purp juice" (whatever THAT is).
The sprawling vistas of space and the dappled mistiness of the etherium clouds do Stevenson's vision proud, widely detailed and richly colorful - much like teh N.C. Wyeth paintings that insipred the animators. There is a wonderfully seamless blend of hand-animation and computer generated art that animation aficionados will certainly appreciate.
The characters, however, while comical, seem to lack the depth explored in Stevenson's original work and are much more about their bells and whistles (literally, in some cases) creating great visual eye-candy, but somehow still leaving the viewer hungry for more (Sort of like Chinese food. You eat it, and an hour later, you're hungry again!) The humor is a bit sophmoric, like the crew member who only speaks "flatula" and there are the stretches at punning like the aforementioned "Alponian chowder".
Something that always makes animated adaptations fun, though, is playing the vocalization guessing game. Can you name that actor? Once again, Disney doesn't disappoint with its stellar cast of talented stars that give voice to the well-known characters of the classic tale. I won't give it away here, but the movie is well worth checking out if only to see if you can correctly identify who's who from the list of Oscar and Emmy winners.
Stay tuned as next week we take a look at Muppet Treasure Island and see if a dog, a pig, a frog, a rat and a whatever can chart the classic waters...hope to see you soon!
To check out more links to classics posts, click the icon at the top of the post or HERE. There's Frankenstein, Phantom of the Opera, The Invisible Man, Jane Eyre, and many, many more!