Friday, January 23, 2015

Williams transformed into other media?

Eldest son made a joke about a Dr Who actor playing in a movie of a Charles Williams book, and of course that got me wondering what of his work could be made into a movie without loss or major transformation. Some books just can't be "movied" without a lot of fiddling: Perelandra comes to mind. Clothes or lack thereof are a form of communication, and lack thereof doesn't convey Edenic innocence. Anymore. But there was a good dramatization of The Screwtape Letters and I gather of The Great Divorce also, so ...

  • Shadows of Ecstasy: some critical moments (e.g. Roger Ingram trying to make sense of what he has seen in the inner room) are interior experiences that need a little verbalization. A few scenes need really good acting plus a little special effects goosing. The whole "dark continent" component wouldn't go over well; we know the rest of the world too well. I'm iffy about this one; the premise is hard to visualize and I didn't find the premise compelling.
  • Many Dimensions: A few minor special effects for the Stone's properties, but some critical moments in Choe's transformation are interior experiences. I think this could work, but the ending might play as a huge downer--the plot might need tweaking.
  • War in Heaven: With a few special tricks here and there for magical effects, and some explanation of what the Grail was, I think this one could make a good movie. You have to get an excellent John, though.
  • The Place of the Lion: A few special effects, but you'd have to motivate the release of the Forms much more strongly, and be explicit about what Forms meant. ("It's all in Plato, all in Plato: bless me, what do they teach them in these schools") I think it could be done--it might turn out better than the book (not my favorite).
  • The Greater Trumps: It needs lots of special effects. A few critical moments are interior (you get different characters' points of view)--voice overs for Sybil? This could easily be a nice dramatic movie with plenty of action.
  • All Hallows Eve: Straightforward special effects for wizardry and the city of the dead, but there are a lot of different characters' points of view--lots of extra dialog to be added. It would be worth trying. Unfortunately a completely unrelated movie exists by the same name.
  • Descent into Hell: It has internal transformations that I think would be hard to portray, especially Wentworth's deepening rejections and the "bearing of burdens". I think it could be done, but I'd be nervous.

For some of these you'd probably only have Williams fans buying tickets, and the purists would gripe. I think The Greater Trumps would be the most likely to appeal to a broader market. I wonder how much you'd have to trim to make a screenplay of it.

If you are in the USA, where the copyright rules were adjusted by a Disney-rented legislature, you're not supposed to click the above book links.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

I didn't know that about Gutenberg Australia. Thanks.

You tempt me to actually read an unfamiliar fiction author. Lewis was a great fan of Williams, Tolkien hated his work. It didn't sound attractive to me in the era when I was easily picking up new authors. Now I have no interest, putting down things I had hoped to like after only a hundred pages. It is clearly a loss, and a step down for me.

james said...

A loss, but a necessary one. Life is so short and there are so many interesting books.