starshipcat (starshipcat) wrote,
starshipcat
starshipcat

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Updating the Foundation Trilogy for Modern Viewers, or Ruining a Classic?

Many years ago, I led a panel discussion on Adaption Decay at several conventions. In it I (and sometimes other panelists) discussed how moving from one medium to another (book to movie, manga to anime, video game to pretty much any narrative format) necessarily involved changes because of the different ways in which each medium works, but some of those changes work better than others.

Recently I heard that Apple had acquired the rights to make a film of Isaac Asimov's Foundation series. I originally discovered the Foundation trilogy when I was in high school, searching through the tiny library at our high school for any sf or fantasy to read. I enjoyed its vision of a distant future and a vast galactic empire that is about to fall (basically, it's the Fall of the Roman Empire recycled In Space), but found a lot of the actual narrative rather plodding (and the fake religion of Scientism actively disturbing). However, transforming what's a very cerebral, and often very talky, storyline into video format seemed to be either a recipe for a very dull, plodding, talky program or something that mostly took key names and concepts, but created a script with its own storyline (rather like the I, Robot movie a while back, which is either loved or hated by Asimov fans).

So I wasn't surprised to read an article about how Apple reached out to Asimov's heirs for their OK on some pretty major changes in the story, including gender-bending several of the characters to create a more balanced cast that will be better received by twenty-first-century audiences. It'll be interesting to see what comes of it -- but I would be utterly unsurprised if it's yet another of those adaptations that get a love-hate relationship from longstanding fans of the source material.
Tags: movies, reading, storytelling
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