Every now and then, someone who wants to make a movie about one of the EW novels contacts me. This sort of thing is exactly why I tell them that I have very little interest in it:
When the historian Dee Brown published “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” in 1971, it became an instant sensation. In an age of rebellion, this nonfiction book told the epic tale of the displacement and decline of the American Indian not from the perspective of the winners, but from that of the Indians.
But the fact that Mr. Brown’s work has been translated into 17 languages and has sold five million copies around the world was not enough to convince HBO that a film version would draw a sizable mainstream audience. When the channel broadcasts its two-hour adaptation of the book, beginning Memorial Day weekend, at its center will be a new character: a man who was part Sioux, was educated at an Ivy League college and married a white woman….
Nicolas Proctor, Mr. Brown’s grandson and one of three people who oversees his estate, as well as an associate professor of history at Simpson College in Iowa, said that as a historian he was “always kind of shocked that history is not moving enough, is not evocative enough and rich enough to keep people from having to get in there and start monkeying around with it.” He said that the estate had no control over the film’s content.
Mr. Proctor said his grandfather wouldn’t necessarily be surprised by HBO’s tinkering. “I don’t think he ever thought anything historically accurate would come out of any film version,” he said. Still, before this, “nobody had ever before gone and gutted it and turned it into a love story.”
I hate Hollywood. Truly hate it. I hate the drivel they produce, I hate their smug pandering to the lowest common denominator, I hate their predictability, but most of all, I hate their unjustified arrogance in insisting that they can tell a better story than the most successful storytellers.
Even Peter Jackson, who did a much better job than I expected with The Lord of the Rings, couldn’t keep himself from occasionally sticking his fingers in, turning Gimli into the stock comic character. Oh, it was funny at times – “Toss me… don’t tell the elf”, but mostly it was lame and it didn’t add anything to the film. I thought the people at Walden did a better job with The Chronicles of Narnia, despite the limitations of the child actors.
Still, Shadow would make for a pretty good movie. I just hope Walden doesn’t mess around too much with The Dark is Rising. Besides LOTR and Narnia, that’s the childhood book I most wanted to see on screen.