Friday, January 21, 2011
Why authors should love history on TV, even bad history
More importantly, historical pieces are good because they make certain periods familiar or easier to understand. Regardless of the quality in the dramatization, they allow people who might be less inclined to read about history to watch it instead. Adaptations like the more recent Pillars of the Earth miniseries, based on Ken Follett’s novel and Robert Graves’ I, Claudius in the 1970s allowed for visual representations of history. As a reader, I’m totally engaged by novels where scenes unfold as if they were on the screen, so it's not hard to understand why visuals may be more appealing than words on a page.
Even a poorly done version of history on television can spur interest in an author’s book. While most try to get it right, screenwriters face the same quandary as authors; how to keep the plot and characters entertaining, while preserving elements of a setting or ancient society. Where they fail, an author might and should do better with an accurate depiction of how life was in another era. The goal of entertaining the audience remains the same, regardless of the mode in which it’s delivered.
Now, I’m going to settle in for an hour of Gods of the Arena, and forget that Barca, the Beast of Carthage, really shouldn’t around in this series unless he’s just a hot 70-year old gladiator.
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