If there’s one takeaway from the first film in Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of The Hobbit, it’s that the writer/director’s tinkering with Tolkien’s lore, ostensibly for the sake of making a more
bloated exciting theatre-going experience, was less than successful. The additions of Azog, Radagast’s plight against the Necromancer, the absurdity in the hall of the Goblin King, and anything to do with the White Council were unnecessary to Bilbo’s story (which, at the end of the day, is what The Hobbit should be about), and raised concerns about the decision to extend the series of films from two volumes into a trilogy.
On the eve of the release of the second film, The Desolation of Smaug, Peter Jackson recently discussed the decision to add and expand on the characters of three elves, including fan favourite Legolas, played again by Orlando Bloom, and newcomer Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lily. “People always ask about Evangeline’s character Tauriel and why we felt the need to create her,” Jackson said, via /Film. “But in The Hobbit novel, [the dwarves] are captured by the elves and they escape in the barrels. And it’s a memorable part of the book but the Elf King is not even named. He doesn’t have a name. And it was only later on that Tolkien decided it should be Thranduil and he also decided he should have a son when Lord of the Rings was written 18-19 years later. He created the character of the son of the king. Continue reading
Last month, I reported on a rumoured videogame adaptation of Game of Thrones by Adventure Game-kings Telltale Games. The developer, through CEO Dan Connors, confirmed the adaptation this week, indicating that it will be a
“multi-year, multi-title partnership” with Martin and HBO. The game(s) will be based on Game of Thrones, the television adaptation of Martin’s popular fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. The first release will be an episodic narrative-driven adventure similar to Telltale Games’ other successful videogames such as The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us. It is unclear whether “multi-title” refers to these various episodes, or if Telltale Games has more in the works beyond this initial offering.
Polygon reports on the announcement made during VGX 2013:
Telltale Games’ agreement to make a Game of Thrones game based on the HBO television series will be a “multi-year, multi-title partnership,” according to a media release from the studio.
The collaboration between Telltale and HBO Global Licensing was confirmed during VGX 2013 when Telltale Games CEO Dan Connors said the studio will be taking advantage of all of George R.R. Martin’s fiction “to make something great.”
The official teaser trailer for the Game of Thrones videogame is available for viewing through Telltale Games’ official YouTube page. The first episode will release in 2014 for “home consoles, Windows PC, Mac and mobile devices.” Polygon has an interesting opinion piece about how Telltale Games might take Martin’s narrative and create a successful adventure game out of it. “Game of Thrones is filled with more characters to keep track of than nearly any other similarly popular franchise,” says Jonathon Dornbush. “Yet this scope doesn’t mesh with Telltale’s style to focus on a single main character or two and a core cast of secondary players. While Telltale could follow just one family or a single character’s plight, this choice would take away from the series’ signature style. If this is the case, it may be in Telltale’s best interests to tackle another fantasy franchise with far less baggage if they need to forsake Thrones’ main storytelling conceit.”
At this point, it’s safe to say that Martin’s creation has moved well beyond a book series and into the realm of licensing juggernaut. With revenues for these tangential ‘side’ projects possibly set to exceed that of book sales (if they don’t already), it’s uncomfortable to think about the idea that Game of Thrones might soon supersede A Song of Ice and Fire as the flagship Westeros entity as the popularity of the HBO adaptation continues to soar. At what point does this happen? And at what point does the divergence in canon between the show and the novels become and issue? Interesting times ahead for Martin and his friends.
Joe Abercrombie confirmed Monday that the first draft of his next novel, Half a King is, for all intents and purposes, done. The “kind of YA kind of crossover whatever the hell it is” has completed its copyedits and is ready for its publication on “July 8th 2014 from Del Rey in the US, and a not totally specific though probably very similar July date from Harper Collins in the UK,” says Abercrombie. He also indicates that ARCs (and thus the first reviews) should start appearing over the next handful of months.
He further indicates that, though behind on his ‘ludicrously over-optimistic schedule,’ he’s still hopeful that the sequel, Half the World will be “comfortably finished by the time Half a King is unleashed, hopefully with the 3rd and final book, Half a War, well underway.”
After he’s done with the Half a King trilogy, Abercrombie is planning to begin earnest work on a new trilogy set in the world of The First Law, “set some years after the end of Red Country.” The first book in this trilogy won’t see store shelves until at least 2017, however. “This is at an embryonic stage right now,” Abercrombie says. “And I’m keen to get a solid plan, and hopefully a rough draft, of the entire trilogy before we publish the first book. That’ll mean putting off publication of book one, but hopefully a faster, more regular and better managed publication of the best books possible thereafter.”
It’s no secret the Hayao Miyazaki is one of the most masterful and celebrated film makers of the past century. The Japanese writer/director’s studio, Studio Ghibli, author to contemporary classic like My Neighbour Totoro, Spirited Away, and Princess Mononoke, has helped introduce countless young (and old) people to the beautiful Japanese legends and myths that so frequently form the heart and soul of their movies. They also provide a nice counterpoint to the Hollywood-heavy Disney and Pixar films of today. But not all of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli’s films are focused on the retelling of Eastern stories. This recently revealed concept art shows what could have been if Studio Ghibli had moved ahead with production on an adaptation of the classic Swedish story of Pippi Longstocking.
Funny enough, io9 reports, “Hayao Miyazaki and [fellow animator] Isao Takahata began preproduction on an adaptation of Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking books, but in the end, were unable to secure Lindgren’s permission.” Looking at Miyazaki’s history as a film maker, it’s difficult to believe that Miyazaki would run into such road blocks, but it’s important to note that in ’71 he was still in the infancy of his career as a film maker, working at Toei Animation. Lucky for us, Miyazaki’s concept art for the film still exists.
By exploring themes of adventure, nurturing love, and family, Miyazaki’s films encourage children and adults alike to remember that there’s magic in the world if they just look for it. With her superhuman strength, adventurous and unconventional personality, it’s no surprise that the master filmmaker was drawn to Pippi Longstocking.
For many readers, escaping into a good fantasy or science fiction novel is a way to leave the ordinary world behind, to enter into a land of wonder, where anything can happen and things of magical beauty and indescribably evil can coexist and clash for supremacy. But, ask anyone who has examined our own world, and you’ll soon realize that Earth has as much wonder and fascinating people, places and events to match even the most bombastic genre novel. Kowloon’s Walled City, traceable back to its origins as a salt-trading post during the Song Dynasty, was home to as many as 50,000 people. The Walled City was demolished in 1993.
Just one look at this amazing cross-section of the city illustrates the staggering breadth of human creation and adaptability.
On Visual News, Paul Caridad explains the nature of Hong Kong’s walled city:
At one time, one of the most densely populated areas on Earth, Kowloon, was a walled city within Hong Kong. It was unregulated by the then-ruling British authorities, who reluctantly allowed it as the only Chinese settlement. It was a no man’s land because of this; run by the Chinese mafia and filled with brothels, sweat shops, illegal hospitals, and trashy eateries.
Originally, Kowloon was built as a watchpost for guards who would protect the area from pirates. But as the population grew–from 10,000 in 1971 to a staggering 50,000 in 1990–attempts were made by the government to evict the squatters living in the city. In 1992, the governent succeded in evicting the population and, in 1993, the 15 story tall block of buildings was torn down. Today, a park with tennis courts covers the area.
For more on Kowloon’s Walled City, io9 highlight’s a German (English-subtitled) documentary about the city, and 99% Invisible podcast about the city. They’re both worth a look, and also worth reflecting, perhaps, on some of the luxuries that we all take for granted today.
What are some of your favourite real world locations that would fit right in in a fantasy or science fiction novel?