Monday, March 5, 2012

A Princess of Mars

One hundred years ago last month, a series of stories came out called Under the Moons of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (yes, the Tarzan dude). They were later compiled and released in 1917 as a novel called A Princess of Mars. And now, I must confess, I'm geeking out this week due to the theatrical version of these stories coming out this weekend called John Carter.

I first read these books when I was fifteen while suffering from chicken pox. I needed to find something to keep my mind off the itching so I discovered some old 1960's paperbacks on a bookshelf in the basement. There were several of these Mars books by Burroughs so I decided to give them a try. I fell in love with the world of Barsoom. And now, thirty-six years later, I'm finally going to get to see this world come to life on the big screen. I'm trying hard not to wet myself just thinking about it.

So, in commemoration of the film, I reread A Princess of Mars last week. I'm sometimes a little nervous to read a childhood favorite again in fear of it not living up to my expectations. I wasn't disappointed. Reading that book made me feel like a teenager again, and maybe a little itchy, too. The world came alive and vivid for me and now I can't wait to get to the other books.

Now, I'm not expecting this movie to be much like the book, though I have been pleased to see in the cast list that all the characters from the book are there in some form. Even my beloved Woola (John Carter's Martian dog). I'm sure the story will be very different, though, and I'm okay with that. To be honest, the book's plot wasn't the most linear and seemed to meander a bit. It mainly consisted of John Carter having some great adventures and eventually winning the heart and hand of his beloved Dejah Thoris. I assume the movie will do at least that much. Oh, but one nice change I've seen in the trailers is that John Carter travels to Mars with his clothes on. In the book, he appeared buck naked.

What impressed me again about the book was the uniqueness of the world. I haven't read anything like this in our modern novels. I am amazed at how well Burroughs thought out the flora and fauna; something I didn't think they did a hundred years ago. He subscribed to the canal theory prevalent in the early 1900s and built a world around it. Burroughs even developed a science based on light that would allow the Martian airships to fly.

So, I'm counting down the days until the movie opens. I've even been tempted to go to the midnight showing, except I think I'm getting too old for that. All I know is that this movie has been a long time coming and I hope Andrew Stanton does it justice. If he carries some of that Pixar magic with him, though, it should be phenomenal. Whoops, I now think I need to go change my pants.

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