The Sci-Fi Channel has managed to mangle yet another beloved classic. I'm less than an hour into their version of Earthsea
and I'm so disgusted it hurts. I wonder if the director ever read Ursula Le Guin's books, because I can't imagine how anyone who had could create such an abomination of a story.
In the first few moments we find everyone using Ged's true and secret name like it was his usename. Later, Ogion gives him the name Sparrowhawk as his true name. This is totally backwards, and I can't understand why they would change something like that.
Then, the whole nature of the Temple of Atuan is changed. Instead of worshipping the Nameless Ones, they are guardians set over them to contain their power. Rather than wearing black, the priestesses wear lovely sunny gowns. And Tenar is no longer the reborn one, but ascends to her rank by achieving the highest score ever on the evaluation test. The whole temple is a cheerful place, rather than one of bleak despair.
Now, the young Sparrowhawk has visions, Ogion the silent loses his temper and mouths off constantly, Tenar is all sweetness and light, and the Kargite king is torturing wizards. This is nothing like the books I have read and loved so many times. I think I need to stop watching it for a while and maybe get back to it when I'm not so sick to my stomach.
UPDATE: I went back after an hour and watched the rest of part 1 on tivo. It just got steadilly worse. Unbelievably. Like, Kargites attacking Roke island, when there is supposed to be a mage wind that keeps any unwelcome guests from even approaching the island. And once there Jasper turns traitor and lets the Kargites into the school. Where the fuck do they get this stuff? It's not from the books!
The nastiest thing is that all the mages seem to be assholes. When Sparrowhawk unwittingly summons something nameless (in the book it's not from the Tombs of Atuan), the Archmage bitches him out like Baby Jane laying into Blanche. Sigh.
Now I think I understand Ursula Le Guin's comments
on the production.
I can only shudder to think what they have done with the low wall and the dry land.
It's just so sad when a beautiful story is devastated by a hack director who thinks he needs to change everything to make it "work" for television. There is no justification for it. I think I'm going to work up a good rant and write a letter to the director and whatever VP at SciFi is responsible for this abomination. Then I think I'll start lobbying for a new category of award at WorldCon - worst adaptation.