Post with 12 notes
Now, the part everyone cares about: how would a Myst movie even work?
This is a really tricky question (and probably why the ideological split happened). You want it to be able to be understood by people who are new to the canon and who only remember Myst as “that’s a game, right?” But you also want to be able to please the people who have been fans for up to nearly two decades now, because those are the people who are going to do passionate word of mouth evangelizing for you. I mean, yes, there will presumably be a media campaign, maybe with a game and a book to go with it. But getting people already excited about the property to like it (should be) important.
So, what elements need to be in a Myst movie to make it successful? This is a loaded and complicated question. After all, what appeals to an average audience and what appeals to a SF/F one and what appeals to the fans are not going to be the same thing. So how do you attempt to negotiate these conflicting needs in order to get a piece that still feels like the property but is crowd-pleasing?
(This dilemma is likely why the wank happened.)
Here’s my personal opinions of how to handle this. Feel free to disagree with me!
-Myst Island: You need to include things that are recognizable. When most people hear Myst, they think of the first game and the island, because that’s often as far as they got. Myst Island has got to be in the movie in some form.
-Visual Spectacle: Visual awe is a key Myst experience. There are tons of beautiful inspiring places in the games and books. The glory of Ages like Channelwood or Selenetic, the fantastical underground cavern of D’ni, the tropical beauty of Riven… make the most of the silver screen!
-Key series themes: The Myst franchise is filled with moral tales and themes. If it doesn’t address at least one, it’s not a good representative. Family ties, betrayal, humility versus pride, these themes recur.
-The Outsider trope: The franchise has a lot of lore and history in it, and this means it’s likely to be overwhelming. Fortunately, in nearly all of the components there’s an outsider character who is being introduced to the world for the first time, making them a natural protagonist and audience substitute.
What would I adapt?
As much as everyone really loved the idea of doing Book of Ti’ana, I’m against it. While starting at the first point in the series chronologically is a good idea, it’s a really sweeping and complex story and I don’t think it would be a good first entry point. On the other hand, Book of Atrus is a smaller-scale and tighter-focused story, which means that it won’t take as long and won’t confuse people with the number of characters and the pace of events.
Here’s what you’d have to cover in BoT: meet Aitrus and Veovis (explaining along the way who are the D’ni, why are they going to the surface, why did they stop), meet Anna and see her father die and explain why she’s exploring, introduce Anna to D’ni, do her trial, do the splitting up of the Aitrus-Veovis friendship, see Anna learn to Write, see gemedet, do the marriage, see baby Gehn, do the A’gaeris and Suahrnir plot, watch Veovis get arrested, have him get loose, see Anna save Aitrus, see more A’gaeris plotting, have D’ni fall, Aitrus’ death, Anna and Gehn go to Cleft and end.
Now, here’s BoA: Meet Atrus and Anna, see the traders and Flame, the rain in the desert, battery experiment, Anna explains D’ni, Gehn shows up, descent to D’ni, life on K’veer, Age 37 and all those events, Atrus runs away, Atrus goes to Riven, meet Katran and see her Writing, stage the mini revolution, be whisked away to Myst, end on Myst Island with the now-famous journal entry narration.
Guys, BoT is not going to fit into a 2 hour movie. Or even a 3 hour movie. I’d rather see BoT as a 6-hour miniseries than a bastardized 2 hour movie version, even if it means the visual effects aren’t quite as impressive. BoA is still not quite going to fit 2-3 hours, but it’s a LOT less complicated than BoT is, even if I did explain it at length. BoT needs a ton of different scenes and takes place over many years, BoA takes place over fewer and only needs a few major setpieces. If you trim down a lot of the growing up scenes into montages rather than full scenes, you can basically slim it down to Part 1: The Cleft, Part 2: D’ni, Age 37, and Writing, and Part 3: Riven and Myst. Give each segment 45 minutes and you’re about on time. BoT the book has 7 segments, and you really can’t compress it much more than that (except maybe for cutting out Veovis’ first imprisonment and just having the destroy D’ni plot). I would be willing to wager cash that BoA would be a way easier adaptation to do.
I would also be up for a new story. I don’t know what kind of new story we could get that would tie in Myst Island and the D’ni City, but going this route would have the advantages of not a.) leaving anything out of one of the books, and b.) not causing huge rage about said leaving out. Maybe something during the time period of young Sirrus and Achenar growing up on Myst Island? Or hell, how about something modern-day, making a movie about the DRC’sdiscovery of D’ni?
Basically, what I think is this: a movie trying to narratize any of the games will be a failure. The first two novels would be acceptable choices, because in either Atrus or Anna we get the outsider figure to lead us by proxy. But the best choice would be a completely new story, something that doesn’t run as much “adaptation risk”.
Post with 9 notes
So a couple days ago, the Myst fan community started self-savaging over controversial posts about the Myst movie. Then I mentioned I had thoughts on the Myst movie. It attracted the interest of a few friends (I promised them to Jedibrarian and then aileuromania also wanted to know!), and now I’ve written it up to post. Except it’s in two parts (how I feel about the movie wank, and then what I think would make a good movie), because it was getting really long.
The wank itself:
I don’t want to get overwhelmingly much in detail about the shitstorm that was spawned, because since it started the two posts that inspired the furor have been taken offline. I do want to give a brief overview of the movie effort in general, because it’s relevant to my thoughts on the matter.
The Myst movie impetus was originally started by Patrick and Adrian (the Mysteriacs), two Myst fans who wrote their own script, made a trailer, and sent their work to Cyan. (Cyan Worlds is the studio behind Myst, Riven, the various incarnations of Uru, and Myst V; not Myst III and Myst IV.) They planned on adapting The Book of Ti’ana (BoT), the second published Myst novel and the first entry point to the Myst universe chronologically. Patrick and Adrian managed to get approval to work on it and try to take it to Hollywood. Awhile later, a guy named Isaac came into the project, had contacts in the industry, and basically served as an important asset for keeping things working on the Hollywood side.
Last week, a huge brouhaha kicked up. Isaac claims Patrick and Adrian left voluntarily and didn’t understand Hollywood. A reply was posted by a Mysteriac claimed they were forced out by a coup by Isaac, and that Cyan let it happen. About the one thing both sides agree on is that a faithful Book of Ti’ana was not likely to be a viable script in Hollywood’s eyes. Immediately, fans started taking sides, mostly on the side of the Mysteriacs. People framed it as “the little guys supporting canon being fucked over by big evil destructive Hollywood”, and framed Cyan as monsters who were willing to sell out their canon for the sake of cash. I’m actually surprised by how overwhelmingly people fell on one side.
Now a basic ground rule: The posts have been taken down because Cyan says the parties are trying to work things out. I intend to respect that, so I do NOT want to discuss in detail the nature of those two postings. I don’t want this post to devolve into a “Well Adrian got screwed” or “Isaac was being practical” or “Cyan is a monster”. This post is instead intended to be about what works as a Myst movie (and a “get off my lawn” lament).
First off, I’d like to declare that I was incredibly skeptical about the idea of a movie in general. A lot of people were excited for it because of the fact that it was a fan-led effort, and therefore they were operating under the assumption that if fans were pitching it and Cyan supported it, it would have to be canon and therefore good. There’s an obvious flaw in this plan, however; the fact that the fans go rabid tearing at each other over what counts as “canon”, and argue over Cyan changing things between the Myst/Riven/novels era and the Uru era. Really, with a fanbase like that, how anyone ever expected to have a movie they were happy with is beyond me.
I’m also a cynic because everything I’ve ever loved that got handed over to new hands got fucked up. Given where I’m posting this, I don’t think I need to comment on the SW prequels (although I will say “I really fucking hate where the Star Wars novelverse is going. NJO was bad enough, but everything after then just spirals into worse and worse things”). There’s the Star Trek ‘09 movie, which is only at all redeemed by leaving the prime timeline basically alone (except for stealing Spock and killing my poor precious Romulus), but is marred by pretty sharp changes to some of the characters and making Kirk generally unlikable in a way even the campiest of TOS was hard-pressed to do. Also, the fucking beer factory water tubes of the engine system, as opposed to a nice clean warp core, pisses me the fuck off on sheer starship design grounds. And that still pales in comparison to what they did to BSG, where they race AND sex AND species swapped two of my favorite characters. I don’t care it’s a “re-imagining” and was never intended to be faithful (although I’m pissed about that), but I do not believe that changing a character’s race or sex is ever acceptable.
What I’m saying is, after those 3 things, there was no way in hell I could ever be positive about a Myst movie. Expecting it to be bad and fucking up canon more than it was already fucked? Yep. Already planning on complaining about the new wave of interest it brought to the fandom and whining about having to deal with people only writing movie!Atrus and not writing about game!Atrus and how the fandom was better as an old dying beast than with the new energies of people who just don’t fucking get it? Yep. (I am a judgmental prick, I’m sorry.) Willing to concede that the game part of the publicity blitz might be good as long as it was done in part by original Cyan staffers? Sure.
But I never, ever, ever thought that it was going to be puppies and kittens and unicorns and rainbows and perfectly canon compliant and make Myst and Cyan well-known names and bring new people into the fandom who could actually create good things. I was convinced it was going to fail from the start. And that’s why I’m not heartbroken and feeling personally betrayed. Unlike, it seems, half the fandom.
addendum: the only thing I would have possibly liked was, if they did do BoT, if a huge slash community jumped up around Aitrus/Veovis. And all my love if anybody wrote Anna/Aitrus/Veovis OT3. but seriously, that’s about it