Is "John Carter" as good as "A Princess of Mars"
A Princess of Mars
Not long ago a travesty occurred with the release of a movie entitled "A Princess of Mars". I can hope they meant well, but they failed on all accounts as a representation of the book written by Edgar Rice Burroughs. More recently Disney Studio's released a movie called "John Carter", have they traveled down the same disastrous path as the previous film maker?
Gore said it best
I think Gore Vidal said it best, I and I paraphrase it here, Edgar Rice Burroughs was not at his best with dialog, but nobody could tell an adventure story better. He was speaking about Burroughs “Tarzan” at the time but John Carter was an earlier hero and his adventures took place on Barsoom. For the uneducated that is what we call Mars.
Tarzan of the Apes
- Tarzan Revisited - Gore Vidal Reviews Edgar Rice Burrough's Tarzan Series - Esquire
As a boy, Gore Vidal read all 23 Tarzan novels. As an adult he looks back on Edgar Rice Burroughs's work and finds the male archetype remains compelling.
Edgar Rice Burrough's Barsoom
Don't Mess with the Barsoom I Love
- Free ebooks by Project Gutenberg - Gutenberg
Download free ebooks for kindle, android, iPad, nook, epub or read online. No registration required. Search for "A Princess of Mars".
Before I Saw the Movie
I have yet to see the movie. I have reservations from the clips I have seen. “A Princess of Mars” was the first of a trilogy and a series of stories about Barsoom.
In the first book, the story begins much like the “Teaser” portrays it, but other scenes seem to tell of a massive war or invasion where the Earth is in danger, and that steps away from the story written by Burroughs. The characters seem to be reasonably close and so I will see the movie and judge for myself.
I came late to being an SF fan. I was in my late teens and it was the pulp science fiction of the thirties and forties that made me an avid SF reader. In my twenties, I joined the science fiction book club, and one of the first selections was “A Princess of Mars”. I was familiar with “Tarzan”, but only from the movies and was not really impressed with the story. But I kept the option for “A Princess of Mars” and discovered ERB as an author. As I look back I have to agree with Gore Vidal's assessment of Burroughs as an author. I read his dialog and find it contrived, but his narration and descriptions of adventure are riveting. As an adventure storyteller, he is the "Level" that others should strive to reach for.
After I read “A Princess of Mars”, I went to a local bookstore and found a paperback copy of “Tarzan”. I read it that day and I cannot express the mixed emotions I have for the amount of mediocre films that have been made of this marvelous character. Not a single filmmaker has ever come close to representing this character and the stories created by Burroughs. Many have touched upon elements of what Edgar Rice Burroughs has written, but none has actually told the story.
My concern is that Disney has forgotten what a brilliant storyteller ERB was and messed with a great adventure that doesn't really need Hollywood's touch to be a great movie. There will be more to come after I have seen the film.
After I have seen the Movie
"John Carter of Mars is not "The Princess of Mars", but that is not to say that Disney failed on all accounts. Every filmmaker has the right to tell the story of another writer as they see it, and the film is not called "The Princess of Mars". The filmmakers from Disney accessed elements of the first book and incorporated them into the story and those of us who know the original can be gratified by the attempt. They diverted from the world of Barsoom that Burroughs created, but they maintained an integrity and so I will forgive the diversion from the original. All in all, I enjoyed the familiarity of the story I knew and found their additions entertaining.
The Princess of Mars missed on casting, story and pretty much everything one would expect to see in a story originally written by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
If you can tear yourself away from the screen, the Gutenberg Project has both "The Princess of Mars" and "Tarzan" available online for free. However, if you like a book in hand, there are used paperbacks available for a few dollars and they are worth reading and rereading again and again.