One of my favorite memories of all my growing-up years happened in my 7th grade. It centered around a very under-appreciated teacher of mine named Robin Avant who did something simple and inventive and refreshing and stirring with her class. I wish I knew how to contact her today because I can honestly say that she affected me in a deep, deep way and I’d love to thank her for it.
I know it’s hard to believe, dear reader, but I was a most uncomfortable geek in school at all levels. I didn’t fit in, to say the least. I was geek before geek was cool. =:) I was an avid reader, an Apple ][ hacker, and more socially inept than you’d ever want to admit possible. I grew up reading and passionately loving The Chronicles of Narnia, Sherlock Holmes, Edgar Allen Poe, The Hardy Boys, Choose Your Own Adventures, Robin Hood, The Lord of the Rings series, and anything else I could get my hands on. I survived middle school by hiding myself in the library whenever possible. Well, by the time you hit 7th grade, you’re pretty much expected to be past that stage of life, I guess. And for sure, teachers in school had far more important things to do than to read stories to you, right?
My 7th grade teacher, Ms. Robin Avant, didn’t buy that. And I fondly remember that at the end of our school day, she would have us all quiet down, lay our heads down if we wanted, relax, and she would read to us. And the story that she read to us was Over Sea, Under Stone, by Susan Cooper. And it was magical. In the chaotic world of junior high school filled with constantly watching your back and trying to fit in, here was a space of child-like peace and rest. We could stop trying to be more than we were and just enjoy the simple pleasure of having an incredibly good story read to us. I don’t know what the other students thought of this wild and crazy idea, but to me is was earth-shattering. And the book was so good and so powerful that it immediately consumed me. I read all 5 books in the Dark is Rising series, and then read them over and over again.
For this reason, Susan Cooper and her magical world in the Dark is Rising has always had an extra-special place in my heart and mind. I read through the whole series with my kids, and they absolutely loved them. And then I saw that they were making a movie from the series and I was thrilled. I had hopes of finally seeing all that I had imagined through the years, up on the big screen, as I’d been able to do with the LOTR movies(!).
And that’s where the title of this post comes in. I don’t blame myself for watching The Seeker movie, which claims to have been based on the second book in Susan Cooper’s series called “The Dark is Rising”. I had to see it. But I do wish that I would have read the reviews first. I wish I would have seen the outrage and shock and bitterness from the fans of the books. I think it would have prepared me better. As it was, I found myself getting increasingly angry and frustrated in watching this movie, such as I’ve never experienced before.
To say that The Seeker movie (and no, I won’t link to it *spit*) was stupid, pointless, horrible, wretched, the worst movie I’ve ever seen, a complete waste of time and money and the plastic it takes to create a DVD is a mind-boggling understatement. To say that The Seeker was based on The Dark is Rising is like saying that The Simpsons Movie was based on Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. And the most atrocious part of it all is that there was absolutely no reason for it. Susan Cooper’s books were every bit as magical and compelling as you’d ever ask for in a big-screen movie, just as they were. I don’t know whether to blame John Hodge for the piece of crap screenplay or David Cunningham for the utter abortion that made it to the screen, but whomever was responsible should never be allowed to take part in anything even slightly misconstrued as being creative again. I personally would love to see Susan Cooper come out with a statement publicly condemning the utter trashing of her writing that The Seeker has done. Or better, a lawsuit–by the fans with all proceeds going to Susan Cooper (this is America! you can sue anybody, right?).
But seriously, Susan, please do something.
As for me, I just ordered the boxed set of Susan Cooper’s EXCELLENT Dark is Rising series from Amazon and I’m going to enjoy them again the way that they should be–exactly as they were written. And if you’ve never read the series, I can highly recommend the books. Give them a good read-through and while you’re at it, don’t bother wasting your time with The Seeker.