Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Devil You Know versus...Cake!

(ed. note: There is no cake at all in this post. Sorry) Y'all, I know I haven't written much that is original lately, and I apologize, I truly do. I have lots of things in my head that I'd like to get out to you, but I can't get myself to sit still and do it. Also, there is a big world of bloggers out there and they keep discovering interesting bits of news and writing about them in a more interesting fashion than I could, a pox upon them all!

This post is no exception. I don't know how many of you have read C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters (I know Dad has, as he is the first person I remember ever mentioning it to me.) but if you haven't, I highly recommend it. It is a short novel consisting entirely of letters of instruction written from a senior devil (the titular Screwtape) to his nephew, Wormwood, a junior devil who has been assigned to ensure the damnation of a young Englishman.

The letters are exceedingly clever, and the whole book is one of the best examples of pure, unadulterated irony in the English language. It's the best sort of irony -- not like current faux-hip irony (people too clever to be sincere about anything, except things too ridiculous to be sincere about) -- and it is also rather funny. It takes only an afternoon to read, and I highly recommend it on a rainy Sunday.

Anyhow, supposedly there is discussion about turning it into a movie. And, of course, in true Hollywood fashion, in doing so, of emptying it of all that makes it great.

From Strange Herring:

Peter Chattaway over at Filmchat reports that Walden Media is looking into the prospect of adapting C.S. Lewis’ classic Screwtape Letters into a screwball comedy in the vein of Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis’ Mr. Bean series.

Uh, please don’t. If for no other reason than the Mr. Bean films didn’t work. And they didn’t work because Mr. Bean is a short-form character, a sketch-comedy creation. He couldn’t sustain a full-length narrative arc. And the directors hired to helm the Bean films were no Jacques Tati, whose original vision and a deliberate stylistic innovation provided a unique context for his minimalist character, Mr. Hulot.

Screwtape is intended to be ironic, not farcical. A wacky devil trying to derail the spiritual journey of his subject at the behest of a Dr. Evil-type Satan will get tired REAL FAST — as well as deflect from the apologetic purposes to which Lewis put the device. (But I guess that’s a given in any mainstream, big-media adaptation.)

If you were going to cast Screwtape and Wormword, I know who I wouldn’t want: Adam Sandler, Jim Carrey, Eddie Murphy — none of the usual suspects. Rowan Atkinson might not be that bad a choice if he could leave Bean behind. (A young Dudley Moore would also have been a definite possibility — think the original Bedazzled, which might have had Screwtape in the back of its collective mind, but toned down a notch or two — less wackiness, more empathy. )

Jeff Daniels as the struggling Christian might be a nice choice, though.

We shall see … but I share Chattaway’s doubts about this enterprise, as well as the direction Walden Media seems to be going in.
Ah well, it can't be any more horrific than Brideshead Revisited! But seriously, you should read the book some sniffly day soon. You'll like it.

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