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Review: 100th Anniversary of John Carter, a Princess of Mars, and Barsoom
A Fan-Made Trailer for John Carter: Disney Pictures, 2012
- Fans Create Their Own Trailer For 'John Carter'
Fanmade trailers are certainly nothing new on Youtube and elsewhere online. And yet, Michael Sellers' and Mark Linthicum's home-grown trailer for the upcoming "John Carter" movie is one that has gone viral, with well over 100,000 page views.
John Carter Fan-Made Trailer
The Purpose of Barsoom
Most well known for his Tarzan series of novels and the movies, animation, and television series that followed from them, Edgar Rice Burroughs was also a science fiction author at the beginning of the 20th century. He not only offered futurist technology and transportation into other dimensions and time travel, but also offered the challenge of discarding racial stereotypes and other prejudices.
Not only are his novels entertaining reading that can engage teenagers and help to raise levels of reading ability in vocabulary introduction, comprehension, and abstract thinking, but also can instruct youth in the long history of racial prejudice and strife and the fact that it need not continue. Burroughs offers not only a scientific future, but also a possible harmonious future among the races of the Universe, let alone on the Earth.
A Princess of Mars is the first of the Barsoom series, published orignally in 1912 and offered free online at Project Gutenberg as well.
Books Into Movies - How Good Is This One?
Diversity in Science Fition Literature
The novels Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote about Mars, or Barsoom, as the locals called it, demonstrates a certain tolerance by placing the protagonist John Carter among Martian races that represent Earth's whites (giant apes), Native Americans, African Americans, and Asians. The books seem to be the pre-Star Trek® bid for racial equality and acceptance of diversity (this, despite the fact that African American Nichelle Nichols was the only regular cast member that worked without a contract.).
The Barsoomians that Carter first encounters, are indeed green as much Earth folklore predicted, but very tall, with two torsos stacked on on top of the other and four arms. The better for fighting with multiple weapons.
A Princess of Mars is the story of Virginian and former Confederate Captain John Carter, He is transported through the supernatural into another dimension and onto the Red Planet. He falls in love with the Princess, who is of a race that looks like his own, but all suffers conflicts with the different races he discovers on Barsroom. These include the Red Men, the two-torsoed Green Men (Tharks), and the White Apes (Therns). He seems to get on with them all and introduces the author's readers to the idea of racial tolerance way back in 1912, just 50 some years after the American Civil War. Blacks and Women were not even voting yet at the time and circa 1912, Charles Darwins' works and the King James translation of the Bible were vigorously applied toward the end of preserving the status quo of that injustice. Burroughs meant to defeat that injustice in his literature.
Green Men of Mars - Computer Game
Edgar Rice Burroughs presents the Pirates of Barsoom as representative of a race of Black Supremacists having super-powers. The author does not diminish them to fearful slaves, but raises them to the level of dominant, handsome warriors that raid the Therns and kidnap the females.
The tribe or nation's Goddess Issus is also black, which was shocking for the period of 1912. American racial attitudes of the early 20th century were definitively White Supremacist and WASP (white Anglo-Saxon protestant) in nature, but Barsoom held forth strong, justified races of different colors and ethic origins.
It is interesting that John "Uncle Jack" Carter is chased and cornered in an old Arizona gold mine by Native Americans, has an out of body experience in which travels on the currents of the cosmos to Mars and is able to get along with the Red Men there. it is also fascinating that Jack Carter has always been a man of 30 or older and had no childhood. He speaks someone stereotypically of other races on Earth but learns to befriend them elsewhere and this may be owing to a lack of childhood indoctrination with prejudice. Perhaps that picked up in the Civil War could be easily shaken.
As Jack Carter is somehow suddenly transported into the gold mine once more after several years, he awakens in a sad state of having riches all around him but no Dejah Thorus. He longs to return to Mars and to her. All of this is likely a statement against capitalism gone to the extreme, Western Industrialism hitting a shrieking high note in America and England the the early part of the 20th century, with stress related illness and family breakdown increasing geomtrically in proportion to the increase in wealth in the results.
Illustration Montage - A Princess of Mars
Ed Burroughs of the Solar System
Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950) had a vivid, forward-looking ikmagination. He also lived halfway into the 20th century, but not long enough to witness Sputnik and the start of US Space Program. He could have written unlimited volumes about all of that as Earth began its real outreach past its own atmosphere with manned gondolas such as automotive battery-operated Stargazer.
As a writer, he began his career late, at the age of 37 with A Princess of Mars. He created not only John Carter of Mars, but also Carson Napier of Venus, David Innes & Abner Perry on Pellucidar at the core of the Earth center and Tarzan of the Apes, who many people still know as Olympic swimming gold medalist Johnny Wiessmuller.
It may not be the best of his Mars series of 11 books, but I like it and I've put Princess on the same shelf with the Space Trilogy of C.S. Lewis. Many readers are entranced wihthe Princess's name - Dejah Thorus. It rolls off the tongue and sounds much better than the movie serial Space Patrol's Tonga - African sounding but pinned on a white woman. I think "Tonga" as a name belonged more in Johnny Weissmuller's other series, Jungle Jim.
1940s Animation from Bob Clampett (Bugs Bunny / Beany & Cecil)
A Princess of Mars and the Mars Series influenced two of my other favorite authors - Robert Heinlein (The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Spaceship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land) and Ray Bradbury (The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451).
In 2012, the "last year of the world" reported by many calendars interpreted erroneously, A Princess of Mars was finally released as a full-length feature film. Renamed John Carter of Mars, it has given rise to several fan sites and talks of possible sequels.