At Blockbuster’s the other day, my eye was caught by a DVD of “Earthsea.” I love the books by Ursula K. Le Guin—I’ve read & reread them periodically since I was 13—so of course I looked at the thing. Sci-Fi Channel. Oh. I’ve seen some of their productions before, & have not been impressed. The packaging told me I wouldn’t be impressed with this production either: most of the actors were white, when most of Le Guin’s characters were of color. But we rented it anyway: call it my amateur anthropological interest in how Hollywood could screw up something that was really quite wonderful. Wow.
It was almost entertaining in its atrociousness. Poor screenplay, stupid plot, poor direction, some good acting, some poor acting, uneven special effects, clumsy borrowings from the Harry Potter movies (the school on Roke has never looked in my imagination anything like Hogwart’s)—oh my, it was bad bad bad. Today I decided to see what Le Guin herself thought of it. Not much. Here’s an index from her website of stories about the Sci-Fi Channel miniseries with links to the relevant site. A paragraph from her article at Locus, “Frankenstein’s Earthsea“, summarizes it nicely:
When I saw the script, I realised that what the writer had done was kill the books, cut them up, take out an eye here, a leg there, and stick these bits into a totally different story, stitching it all together with catgut and hokum. They were going to use the name Earthsea, and some of the scenes from the books, in a generic McMagic movie with a silly plot based on sex and violence.
No kidding. Did I mention the the plot was really stupid?