All posts for the month January, 2014

Catching Fire vs The Desolation of Smaug

Published January 29, 2014 by electricbluegaloo

When it comes to film adaptations there is often a chicken/egg debate over which is superior, but in Catching Fire, the second instalment of the Hunger Games Trilogy,  we see the perfect example of where the book is complimented by the beautifully envisioned film. While there were a couple of scenes that were far more effective on the page (“it begins at 12” and Peeta’s demonstration to the game makers for example) there were others that were made for the big screen (Finnick, Katniss’s demonstration and wedding dress twirl).
Obviously the emphasis on the fashion,  style and glamour of The Capitol in contrast to the dreary drudgery of the outer districts lends itself to an imaginative costume and sets design team but as in the first film and book this aspect cannot be overrated.  It is to Suzanne Collins’ credit that she has created The Hunger Games this way.  I just can’t wait to pour over a photo book of the film.  Either that or repeatedly pressing pause on the DVD to admire as many of the costumes as I can.  In the meantime, I can drool my eyes over this article:–catching-fire-tex-saverio

Particularly if you have read Mocking Jay you will realise that there are flaws in Suzanne Collins’ storytelling (a convenient coma, me thinks) but Panam itself is a very solidly imagined world and in many ways this is the foundation of the entire series.  I am waiting with heightened anticipation for the film of Mocking Jay (perhaps an opportunity to take artistic licence and tidy up the Prim issue), and best of all a Hunger Games marathon.  But wait, the final film is to be one of those 2 part dealies.  Oh well.  The first two have been brilliantly paced so let’s hope the next two live up to this standard.

The Hobbit films (An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug) on the other hand are an example of where more is just too much.  To be honest I was pretty much over Middle Earth about 20 minutes before the end of The Return of the King, or 20 minutes into it even.  I know Peter Jackson thinks he’s a hobbit having a human experience but talk about a different interpretation – I totally did not agree with comical relationship between Legolas and Gimli in The Two Towers, and to me the interpretation of Faramir was all wrong.  I have read The Hobbit, and to the chagrin of my Tolkien loving family I pretty much dismissed it as a “boy-book” and went back to trying to be as awesome as Claudia in the Babysitter books.  I was glad that I read The Hobbit because I knew  what the hippy kids were talking about when they referred to their spot in the play ground as “Mirkwood”, and there was something very exciting about having a grand adventure thrust upon one.  But is that any excuse for making the first two Hobbit movies we have seen?  I haven’t read The Silmarillion which is apparently where some of the additional characters, storylines and general backstory comes from, but I totally agree with my now 16 year old cousin who described The Desolation of Smaug as “padded”.  It would have been fine to adapt The Hobbit into one or even 2 films, but three seems a bit excessive (two of the three cousins who saw the movie over Christmas had a power-nap while it was on).  Rather than likening The Desolation of Smaug to Catching Fire, I could have easily compared it to Spielberg’s 2005 War of the Worlds, which I came across on a JAL flight and watched for about 45 minutes before realising I was on the Japanese language channel:  not a lot of dialogue, just a lot of CGI and long sweeping shots of explosions and stuff.

I have to agree with Christopher Tolkien, the son of J.R.R. Tolkien, who made the following statement about the LoTR adaptations in July 2012:

“They gutted the book, making an action movie for 15-25 year olds. And it seems that The Hobbit will be of the same ilk. Tolkien became…devoured by his popularity and absorbed by the absurdity of the time. The gap widened between the beauty, the seriousness of the work, and what it has become is beyond me. This level of marketing reduces to nothing the aesthetic and philosophical significance of this work.”


So in conclusion I reflect on the style and pace of the YA novel that I #amwriting.  It is neither post apocalyptic dystopian or high fantasy, or even a film, so what does this comparison have to do with my semi-autobiographical social realist artfully arranged words?  After languishing in the bottom draw of my writing desk I have pulled out and dusted off the manuscript and am now pondering the pace and the padding.  Fantasy is my genre of choice and series such as Harry Potter, The Ranger’s Apprentice and the Witches of Eilenan highlight how effective a strong back story can be.  However, the balancing act is to consider which darlings will live and which will be reincarnated as eggs in future baskets.  I shall have to nut it out over coffee and just hope that if anyone ever adapts my book to film they’ll do it justice, and maybe even prove that a good book is complimented by turning it into a good film.


A Different Take on A Different Take (Disney’s Frozen)

Published January 21, 2014 by electricbluegaloo

DISCLAIMER:  The derogatory terms used in the following post are used ironically!

Also: Spoiler alert.

You’re kidding me!  Elsa doesn’t have a boyfriend so automatically she’s a lesbian, and I suppose Merida is too.  Come on!  This is beyond ridiculous.  I have watched this movie a couple of times and read some vague reviews about it being Disney’s “queerest movie” but to be honest I just didn’t get what they were talking about.  I mean, I didn’t catch any chick on chick action (maybe that happened when I was taking my three-year old to the toilet).  The only hooking up I saw was Anna, falling for 2 different GUYS!  Or maybe it was some lesbo-sister action.  I just don’t think Disney is that twisted.  It was not till I read this review that it was explained in great enough detail for my tiny brain to recognise – oh, she doesn’t need a man to kiss her and make it better so she’s a dyke.

My six year old daughter told me Frozen was the best movie she’s ever seen and I was delighted to see how much she loved it and connected to it, because I connected very powerfully with it too.  Watching this movie might one day come in very handy when I have to explain to my little girl how it feels for my sister, her aunty, to live with mental illness – bipolar affective disorder.  You see, while everyone else was jumping to conclusions about Elsa’s sexual orientation I was moved by how similar Anna’s experience was to my own – trying to understand the beautiful, powerful and exhilarating highs and dealing with the dangerous and devastating lows.  Loving a sister with bi-polar can be exhausting.

From my own experience I can see so much evidence that Frozen is an allegory for mental illness. Was she cursed or born with it? Connected to emotions and  pretending it doesn’t exist.  Forced to deal with it on her own because nobody really understand what’s going on.  Hoping it will go away.  The big elephant in the room. The eventual incarceration.  This was all too familiar.

I remember being in awe, creatively jealous of the way my sister was capable of building beautiful worlds inside her mind as real as Elsa’s ice castle, but also how frightening she’d be, like the demon snow monster, when we tried to bring her to reason.  She created a havoc in our lives as real as the film’s cursed winter.  There would be times where everyone in her circle would be stuck trying to undo one or other of her catastrophes, sometimes terrifying.  We were undeniably caught in the effects of her curse as surely as the citizens of Arendelle, and always knowing that this was but one face of our loving, creative and wonderful girl.  And always hoping that our love would help heal everything – everything.

Let It Go by Sara Richard

There was nothing in the song “Let it go“that tells me it’s about liking girls but the entire last verse spells out exactly how it was when my sister gave up on holding on to her slip of reality.

My power flurries through the air into the ground
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast
I’m never going back,
The past is in the past

Let it go, let it go
And I’ll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone

Here I stand
In the light of day
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway

Let’s face it, my sister’s world of fairies and magic was a hell of a lot more interesting than the alternative we had to offer her.  It’s been a long road, but just as with Elsa, my sister seems to have been saved by an act of true love.  Not through sisterly love, but through the birth of her child.  Incredibly she has learned to control her emotions and despite a terrible lack of understanding and support for her condition I am proud to say that my sister has not experienced one of her devastating and catastrophic episodes for nearly 10 years, or even a little one.

Maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe in Frozen 2 Elsa will leave us no room for speculation.  I’d love to see a Disney wedding with two brides (perhaps even an interracial marriage).  But in any case I’d just like you to have a think about what it really means to live with mental illness or to love someone living with mental illness.

There have been some kids and YA novels dealing with or touching on themes of mental illness: Crossing the Line, Saving Francesca, Froi of the Exiles, and one of The Witches of Eilenan series (sorry I can’t remember it off the top of my head).  However, the story which best supports my Frozen assumption is this moving article about the popular craze for artisanal toast.  Whatever the creators of Frozen were trying to do – make a film about sexuality, mental illness, or even a fairy tale about 2 sisters with none of the intense subtext that has been assigned to it, I would certainly say it has been a success, with a couple of catchy tunes to boot.

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