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The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
http://www.heinleinsociety.org/thsnexus/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=304
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Author:  PeterScott [ Mon Jun 15, 2009 6:34 pm ]
Post subject:  The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

The screenplay, that is. See http://socalbrowncoats.com/images/moonfriday.pdf . Now, I have no idea and haven't bothered to check whether this is (a) authentic or (b) current, but so what? And I know that it's common before a movie comes out for so-called scripts to float around the net - I read one of the alleged Star Wars Episode 1 scripts that bore not a shred of resemblance to the eventual Phantom Menace. I don't know who that web site belongs to or how the script came to be on the net - all I know is the URL.

Be that as it may, what are your thoughts on this script? I find it delightfully true to the book and gently updated where necessary (e.g., in computer processing capabilities). I would love to see it on the screen.

Author:  audrey [ Mon Jun 15, 2009 7:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

This has ALWAYS been the book I would most like to see on the screen, but as Hollywood has managed to destroy all of RAH it touches I am more than a little concerned that this could be another Starship troopers.

Will the script relay the book well?
Audrey

Author:  JamesGifford [ Mon Jun 15, 2009 8:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

Problem number one: Choose which third of the novel you want to see on the screen. Get back to me when you have a decision.

Author:  freesharon [ Fri Jun 19, 2009 7:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

Peter Scott wrote:
[...] I find it delightfully true to the book and gently updated where necessary (e.g., in computer processing capabilities). I would love to see it on the screen.

I read it and am disappointed, in the usual book-to-movie-travesty/'what were they thinking?' way.
Most of the skeleton is there, but the important stuff the skeleton was erected to support is all gone. No political discourse, no social innovations other than one line marriage -- which is presented as something that even Loonies know little about -- and I don't even like this version of Mannie. Or Wyo. Or Prof. Or Mike. Or Stu, for that matter.
And why was Alvarez rewritten as the Terminator?
This is just an action movie script. It's not really related in a meaningful way to my favorite novel. I hope this doesn't get made.

Author:  JJGarsch [ Fri Jun 19, 2009 8:27 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

I haven't looked at the alleged screenplay, but I have just one question: Has there ever been a screenplay or teleplay that successfully included "political discourse" (as freesharon puts it)? That is, was there ever a movie or TV episode that attempted such a thing but wasn't stopped dead in its tracks as a result?

A separate but important element that has to be considered in trying to make Moon into a movie is the narrator's voice. Having an occasional voice-over or completely omitting narration: that's your choice, and in some cases (perhaps this one) both choices are awful. So much of what makes the book interesting is that it's told by Mannie.

Author:  PeterScott [ Fri Jun 19, 2009 8:29 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

JJGarsch wrote:
A separate but important element that has to be considered in trying to make Moon into a movie is the narrator's voice. Having an occasional voice-over or completely omitting narration: that's your choice, and in some cases (perhaps this one) both choices are awful. So much of what makes the book interesting is that it's told by Mannie.


That's the devil that besets any attempt to translate a first-person narrative to the screen.

Author:  JamesGifford [ Fri Jun 19, 2009 8:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

This is an authentic item, by the way - Tim Minear was indeed attached to a serious development project when he drafted this. Of course, all of the major Heinlein properties have been in more or less continual option since first written. I'm sure the file cabinets of H'wood are littered with first draft scripts and treatments. Only in the Google age does this stuff float out into the public stream.

I think the script indicates the tremendous problems with adapting any of Heinlein's major works to the screen. Yes, the bare-bones narrative is there and it's almost slavishly faithful... as first drafts, written by someone familiar with the material, often are. I think what's there is nearly unfilmable and an insult to the original material - quite a feat.

As noted, MIAHM is entirely a first person view, and the view of someone who is pretty clueless and out of his depth. That's nearly impossible to translate from interior monologue to screen action. So page 1, scene 1 has to begin from a different viewpoint - you CAN'T use as much VO as Minear indicates. You'll end up with a "Vicky Christina Barcelona," which was a series of short tableaux connected by a droning narrator. Hardly one word of the story was told by the actors or action; it was told by the narrator at endless length.

Once you've chosen your viewpoint, you have to grapple with content and length - as I said, choose which third of the novel you want to see up on the screen.

A very well-done miniseries of six hours or so would get all but the fringe items in. I wonder if one of the big non-film players like HBO could be interested.

Author:  PeterScott [ Fri Jun 19, 2009 10:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

James Gifford wrote:
I think what's there is [...] an insult to the original material...


Uh, how so? Mebbe I don't have the eye for reading scripts, but that's not what I thought.

Author:  JackKelly [ Fri Jun 19, 2009 10:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

Well, my lengthy responses have now disappeared into the ether twice, so I won't try again, but I do think a faithful 2-hour theatrical adaptation could be made if one were to, as Jim suggested, focus on a third of the book. I would focus on the action surrounding the planning and execution of the revolution and let the political underpinnings and social mores be illustrated in a limited way through the action and dialogue. Just don't include stuff that is not faithful to the ideas in the book. And of course include Mike, who is the heart of the story.

Author:  freesharon [ Fri Jun 19, 2009 11:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

James Gifford wrote:
[...] I think the script indicates the tremendous problems with adapting any of Heinlein's major works to the screen. Yes, the bare-bones narrative is there and it's almost slavishly faithful... as first drafts, written by someone familiar with the material, often are. I think what's there is nearly unfilmable and an insult to the original material - quite a feat.
[...]
Once you've chosen your viewpoint, you have to grapple with content and length - as I said, choose which third of the novel you want to see up on the screen.

A very well-done miniseries of six hours or so would get all but the fringe items in.

What you said. Especially the six hour miniseries. That format seems better suited to most of Heinlein's adult fiction.

As to the issue of political discourse, movies/TV productions about revolutions/revoluntionaries do sometimes include political discourse. (The first one that comes to mind is Kiss of the Spider Woman. A lot of Star Trek movies and episodes have contained significant political philosophy -- the needs of the one vs the needs of the many, etc.) I have my research team (imdb boards) working on a list.

One of the most important aspects of this book, IMHO, is the vast difference in political philosphies among the leading characters, and their ability to work together despite same when faced with eminent catastrophe. Another is the social evolution needed to cope with vastly changed circumstances.
These ideas need exposure today, as much if not more than they did when the book was written.

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