August 22, 2010 represented fantasy author Ray Bradbury’s 90th birthday. In celebration of that event, this week’s Post-Mortem podcast examines his career, including the many film and television adaptations of his work: FARENHEIT 451, THE BEAST FROM 20000 FATHOMS, THE ILLUSTRATED MAN, THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES, SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, etc. Plus, correspondent Lawrence French fills us in on the details of the celebration in Los Angeles, which declared August 22-28 to be “Ray Bradbury Week.”
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
The L.A. Times says “sources” tell them that John Davis, a 20th Century Fox-based producer who was involved with ALIEN Vs. PREDATOR and the will Smith vehicle I, ROBOT has optioned the rights to Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles.
The book is a loosely connected selection of short stories, some that have little to do with the planet, others that are more refelctions on Bradbury’s feelings about a view of Mars that he read about and loved as a child, and knew as an adult writer had no substance in reality. So many of them are delicate fables, morality tales, or slight slices of subdued nightmare.
Trying to adapt them into a cohesive science fiction narrative is somewhat akin to attaching a jet engine to a child’s kite made of newspaper and balsa wood.
Richard Matheson made a game attempt in the TV mini-series THE MARTIAN CRONICLES (1980).
Despite a cast that included Rock Hudson, Roddy McDowall, Darren McGavin, Barry Morse, Bernadette Peters, and Fritz Weaver, the production was generally turgid and disappointing, though with a few moments that captured the magic of some of the stories. Variable production design (from imaginitive to extemely bland), and substandard FX work gave it a slightly cheezey look.
Various stories from The Martian Chronicles that appeared on the very low-budget RAY BRADBURY THEATER worked as well or better, freed of the need to link together.
So, the idea of a major feature film version of a short story collection does not strike me as a very good idea. Could the rights have been obtained to make a film like I, ROBOT (2004)?
That film was based on a screenplay called Hardwired that Fox liked, and had some similarity to Issac Asimov’s robot stories. So, since they had the rights to the I, Robot collection, the Susan Clavin character and Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics were inserted into the story.
The results were an entertaining Sci-Fi action-murder mystery that held little savor for readers of the original stories.
Will the same road be taken? Only time will tell.