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This is very much my blog, so don't be surprised if this doesn't follow accepted patterns and norms. It is a place where I can be anonymous and honest, and I appreciate that.

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Sunday, 28 September 2014

Balloon animals

The truest depiction of the motif of the
book in a film poster I could find.
We've played chess (I posted about it) and we watched Ender's Game last night. I was surprised how well the book translated to the big screen, if truth be told. I missed reading the book when I first had a chance back in GCSE English and I wish I could turn back the clock and fix that. I read the book just after University and then, unusually for me, I read it again in my first year of teaching. Why? It was apposite and reminded me that, in schools, often the perception is that the adults are the enemy and that this is totally for valid reasons. I also loved the pace and the immediacy of the book. So, how could they condense all that into a single film that was less than two hours long and maintain any sense of the source material?

The first thing that they can do is cast a child actor who looks and sounds not a little unlike Edward Norton to play the lead. Seriously, Norton has the acting chops to make even Ang Lee's The Hulk bearable to watch for an evening and so anything in his sort of range will have me watching it. And in Ender Wiggin it just makes the whole thing a little more believable. I had a hard time parsing the extra tech on the film with what I remembered from the book and yet it worked just fine. So I was aware that they had changed something early on and I couldn't put my finger on it at all. Rereading the book I realised it was the situation with the Buggers, sorry, Formix and how humanity had been attacked and then retaliated. Also, having Harrison Ford reading out lines from the book verbatim did wonders. No, really, that was well played.

Edward Norton is Ender Wiggin.
Played by someone else.
Then you need to focus on the character of Ender. So none of Valentine and Peter slowly taking over the world via opinion on the internet over social media and none of the battle sequences in the battle room where Ender trains his own troops. But that makes a bit of sense. When we get to see some of the battles you realise just how hard it would be to render those sequences without making them a montage without emotional impact or else destroying the context. They also had to close down a great deal of the mind game and the different alliances that shift and change throughout the book so that we can get to follow something of Ender as a person.

With Valentine.

She doesn't use Facebook and Twitter to conquer the planet with
Peter, but hey, it's a short film.
A number of times I thought they were going to mess up the twist, which is fantastic by the way, and at one point I thought they had. But Tilly was sat next to me the whole time and never guessed the ending, except by rampant blanket guessing as she twigged that something was up. In this way she is never wrong and can always claim that she saw a twist coming, which is fair enough but you can tell my thoughts on the matter. In any case, the film captures the feeling very well toward the end and, because it didn't faff about with the battle school, we had investment in the person of Ender and his crew of misfits, allowing us to get a montage sequence until the last battle. By extending the latter pages of the book to fill a good twenty minutes they also manage to bury the twist a little more effectively - or else audiences would know that the final battle was the final battle, if you see what I mean.

In short, despite the fact that Orson Scott Card is an odious individual, the film is really good and really faithful to the original (occasional asides about Mormonism that I never really spotted before the film elected not to show them aside). If you are looking for a decent film on DVD, rent this or get it on netflix or, better yet, borrow from a library so that there aren't any royalties supporting OSC from your end. Then get the book from a charity shop and read it. Read it good, and read it before watching the film, you shan't be disappointed.

Oh, the balloon animal is my hand. Swelled up like a balloon today and is still pretty puffy. I may be getting the bus into work in the morning. Deep joy. I love buses, I do, but tomorrow is a busy day (all Mondays will be this year, last year was nicer in that regard with a different timetable) and so it'll make me on edge even though the route (and the timing) is fairly straightforward.

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