Sunday, June 22, 2014
On No Longer Being A Purist
So, I have been a fan of Alexandre Dumas since I was a boy, and saw the Richard Lester/George MacDonald Fraser The Three Musketeers; when I was ten, my grandmother gave me a copy of the novel, and it was one of the first two "big boy" books I ever read (the other being The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes).
So you would think I would hate the free adaptation of the novel the BBC is running, right?
Well, no. I'm not the purist I was, it seems.
I'm not sure why; I used to have no stomach for free adaptations, and grudge every variation from the vision of the original creator's vision. Although, in retrospect, Lester and Fraser were free enough, adding humor to Dumas's story, while following his plot line pretty closely.
I think that I originally saw "unfaithful" adaptations as just that; a breach of loyalty to the original. But now I see them as works on their own; variations, explorations, refinements, recastings, which should stand or fall on their own merits. And that's been true since the dawn of storytelling. Take the example of Oedipus; the basic narrative framework remains the same, from version to version--Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides--but within the broad scheme, incidents vary, characters play different roles.
The Musketeers is more free than most adaptations, but it's worth a whirl. After all, Dumas varied wildly from his own source material.