First Reaction: Are you kidding me? No, really. Are you kidding me?!
I wanted to cry while watching the DVD. Not because I was touched. I was infuriated. Anyone who loves Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea trilogy probably does so because of her masterful portrayals of the transition between youth and maturity, and the deeply personal struggle of every individual against inner evil. Fans like me must have wanted to scream at how the TV adaptation utterly ruined, commercialized and otherwise made a royal mess of the author’s noble intentions. Seriously, it was like the screenwriter read the synopsis at the back flaps of the books then proceeded to write the script without even opening the covers.
Let me put it this way: the only things they got straight were the names of the people and places. Well, almost all of them, actually, except for one character’s, incidentally the most important one (*muffled scream here*). On second thought, let’s not discuss the main character. I just might do someone serious bodily harm.
Tenar might be a safer subject. Poor Tenar. What have they done to you? Wait, I know. They took all the depth and profundity out of your search for identity and made you into some soap opera leading lady bereft of any originality. If they changed your name to Hermione I would not have been surprised. The show already has a Hogwarts, after all, complete with a Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Draco Malfoy angle.
Granted, many essential parts of the trilogy would have been difficult to film, especially Tenar’s story. But they said that about the Lord of the Rings, too. Then again, director Robert Lieberman is no Peter Jackson, and the trilogy should not have been crammed into one four-hour miniseries. In the words of an Amazon.com reviewer, his version of Earthsea would be “best enjoyed by those with no awareness of the classic books it is very loosely based on.” No kidding.