I cheated and stole a peak at the early reviews of The Desolation of Smaug over on theonering.net. For those who haven't made it over there yet, it has grown into the essential all-things-middle earth website. I have a soft spot for the place, actually, way back when it first got started I won the contest to name the chat room. When you go into Barliman's for the gossip and the flame wars, well, you're welcome. No real glory there, obviously, and I never figured out how to use the email addy they gave me. I feel like Willy Loman naming the boss's son 'Howard'...
But I digress.
When The Desolation of Smaug hits the screens next week, I'm almost convinced it will bring a firestorm of critical response. Rumor has it Jackson makes several glaring deviations from the original text, as if the stuff that showed up in the first installment wasn't enough, and those 'adjustments' are sure to bring a strong response from the two camps in question: the literary purists and the fans of film for the sake of film.
I suspect the latter will be front and center of the discussions that follow the release of the Desolation of Smaug.
Of course I will see the film. I haven't made it to Ender's Game yet, but that is on my matinee list form the holiday break. I'm sure I'll like it, but if what I have read so far regarding spoilers and deviations is true, I'm sure I will mixed emotions. For me, Lewis and Tolkien were my introduction to the genre. My fifth grade teacher read us The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and my sixth grade teacher read us The Hobbit, complete with voices for the dwarves, Gandalf, Bilbo, et al. I was hooked. Living in Germany at the time just added to the magic. New Zealand has proven an excellent source for locations, but I recall feeling pretty strongly about a few places in southern Germany and Austria...
What all this sickly anticipation has me thinking about is how much poetic license should we allow folks like Peter Jackson. As an author, how much control would I be willing to give up to see my works transformed into film? Like many of you, I would love to get that phone call/email/tweet. And yet I find myself trending toward caution because of what I have seen done to Tolkien. LeGuin's Earthsea was roundly butchered by the SciFi channel and suffered a confusingly derivative animated version from Myazaki's son. So I would like to leave you with some questions:
As an author, what are you willing to allow? How much creative control would you like to keep? Card resisted early attempts to film Ender's Game because he wanted to keep his original schematic intact.
And what great stories would you like to see tackled next? I would love to see someone have a go at McKillip's Riddlemaster series, or perhaps a try at Cherryh's Elvish/Welsh fantasy duology The Dreaming Tree.