The Village And Running Out Of Time

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"The Village," the latest thriller by Shyamalan, took in $50.8 million at the box office in its first weekend, the best opening this year for Disney, which has failed to produce any other major hits.

The film, which slipped to second place last weekend, has grossed $85.6 million. Last week reports circulated that its plot and surprise ending parallel Margaret Peterson Haddix's first book "Running Out of Time," published in 1995.

Both Haddix and her US publishers, Simon & Schuster, are reported to be considering their legal options.

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I saw The Village (which had me more scared and off-balance than any mere movie since The Blair Witch) opening weekend, and I came out of it convinced that Shyamalin had read Running Out of Time. I told my non-YA friends to go see the movie and then get the book; I told my YA friends that they were going to recognize an influence, but wouldn't tell them which one because I didn't want to be a spoiler. The resemblance really is striking. The Secret the grownups are keeping, the quest for medicene, and some themes about courage and maturation are all there in both.

However - in ROoT, Jessie finds out the secret at the end of Ch. 3 (p. 21 in my Aladdin paperback), and she - and her mother - are chiefly concerned with making the secret public. Ivy finds out the secret two-thirds of the way into the movie and complies with her father's desire to keep it. ROoT has no horror element, and whereas the younger generation in the village in Covington Woods remain trustingly infantile and reliant on their unreliable elders (at least until Lucius gets up and about - the eventual repercussions of events are left to the viewer's imagination in the movie), during the stand-off in the schoolhouse in Clifton the younger generation bands together in defiance of Mr. Seward, crucially including his own son. Ivy spends maybe half an hour in the outside world, making contact with one person. The focus of the book is Jessie's negotiation of the complex, unfamiliar outside world.

The resemblance is only a resemblance, less impressive than the near-identity of Coraline and The Wee Free Men, and no greater than the resemblance of every fantasy trilogy since 1960 to LOTR. I don't think it's actionable, for what my opinion is worth.

I think that Shyamalin and Haddix should talk. Picture what their combined vision could do! Haddix's paranoid adolescent themes could work well with Shyamalin's cinematic style. But only for one movie, please - I'd hate to see her drawn away from her primary work into a Hollywood round of style. Movies cannot have the depth of novels; their virtues are different. And I really like Haddix's novels.

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This page contains a single entry by achuka published on August 10, 2004 9:30 AM.

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