Wednesday, August 05, 2009

You Killed 'the Time Traveler's Wife'!

You bastards! The movie version of the story presents a HAPPY ENDING because a focus group's reaction to the actual ending was less than positive. The perpetrators of this horror are castigated by Pajiba, in one of the most on-point rants I've ever read:
Oh blind fury, how I’ve missed you. It’s been a week or two since you last curled my hands into claws to rip furrows from my own flesh.

“Properly”? Really? You’re going to go there? You’ve directed Flightplan and a single episode of “Lie to Me” and you’re going to swap out the gut-wrenching final scene of a beautiful story because 30 people you found at a mall on a Tuesday afternoon didn’t like being sad? It’s a tragic love story you ignorant twat
Hear hear! I've read the Time Traveler's Wife three times and bawled myself into catatonia three times; that is the mark of a truly special piece of art.

Hollywood seems to have forgotten that a certain level of pain can be exquisite. Heather Armstrong makes this point beautifully in her final post about giving birth to Daughter #2. Juliet makes this point beautifully by dying over and over again all over the world. Terms of Endearment -- one of the few movies that can reliably reduce me to tears -- won an Oscar for Best Picture, for god's sake!


sarah rose said...

It might be my skewed world view, but I thought the end of the book WAS happy. (I still bawled my eyes out. Then stopped, and immediately began reading the book again from the start.)

herding tapeworms said...

why am i not surprised? don't they know by now that focus groups are CRAP?

Nathan said...

I had actually begun to hope that Hollywood was moving in a more auteurish direction, letting fanboy directors follow their instincts. Even if it gives us something like Zak Snyder's THE WATCHMEN, I'll take it over the alternative.

Still, I thought literary adaptations were more immune to this. I want to read TTTW. I just finished the profoundly sad Never Let Me Go, and am not eager to see Keira Knightley narrate the whole thing in a clumsy voiceover device.

I'm sure in the final inspirational scene, all the donors will rise up, throw off their chains of subjugation, demand equal rights, and begin anew. A shaft of sunlight will pierce the grey English skies just as Tommy's EKG monitor begins beeping again.
And, oh yes, completely obliterated will be all the book's deep, deep down undertones of the mortality and pathetically circumscribed lives of each and every one of us, pawing at something beyond our reach as we age and our bodies fail us.

But Keira Knightley! Man that girl is sooooo hot.

DJ said...


Aside from the fact that Keira Knightley doesn't have a clumsy voice, she will not be the one narrating - only Carey Mulligan does. And I've read the script - it's follows the novel extremely closely.

Nathan said...

No, Knightley's voice will continue to be quite precise, I'm sure. I'm not even sure how any voice could be "clumsy."

What I meant (and, honestly, what I believe I said) is that the voiceover itself, as a screenwriting device, is clumsy - 9 times out of 10, anyway - and seems to be the go-to crutch when adapting novels, like the director/writer throwing up his hands, admitting he can't tell the story through images, and instead just having the pages read aloud. I was being facetious in mocking the typical "prestige" adaptation, but it sounds like I was correct on this point? (There actually is narration?)
Whatever, it was just an offhand comment, as was the joke about the ending. It could very well be good narration - I rather liked the one for Assassination of Jesse James (it's also a wonder that the 'Atonement' film managed to be even halfway decent without this trope, considering it was such an interior novel.) In any case, "following the book closely" is less important than teasing out the right moods and themes, but I'm sure you get that. (The first two Harry Potter movies "followed the book closely." Cuaron's version, notsomuch. I know which one I liked more.)

But you're right: I keep forgetting that she's playing Ruth, which makes more sense and would not entail narration on her part. I'm going to pay money to see it, either way.

Rebecca said...

you are kidding me. they changed the ending?? no wonder all the reviews are crap--you can't have the love story if it doesn't have the ending! bah!

Anonymous said...

But technically it is a happy ending, he dies but comes back and then leaves and comes back. In fact in the Time Traveller's Wife 2 she gets so sick of it she shoots him :) but he comes back. My God worse than a zombie plague. Oh well maybe they should have a scene where Henry goes back in time to stop Marley from getting sick and they all shoot the cast of Marley and Me - The Time Traveller's Wife Meets Marley. Then we can introduce Jason from Friday the 13th to time travel and do in everyone but he can't now because they time travel and are all alive and dead at the same time that things get so complicated that someone drops a nuclear bomb on everyone and it ends in a 2012 apocalypse. So it's The Time Traveller's Wife in 2012 Vs Marley Vs Jason! That's box office gold! :)