JCF contributor Abraham Sherman has written an epic exploration of the differences between the Edgar Rice Burroughs original, and the Andrew Stanton adaptation, of ERB’ A Princes of Mars. This is a thorough, substantive, and thoughtful piece. Many thanks to Abe for writing this — there is much to chew on here. Read the entire article at Bill Hillman’s ERBZINE.
Here is an intro with link:
John Carter of the Round Table
An Exploration of the Differences Between Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Novel and Andrew Stanton’s Film
by Abraham Sherman
“Twenty-two years before I had been cast, naked and a stranger, into this strange and savage world. The hand of every race and nation was raised in continual strife and warring against the men of every other land and color. Today, by the might of my sword and the loyalty of the friends my sword had made for me, black man and white, red man and green rubbed shoulders in peace and good-fellowship. All the nations of Barsoom were not yet as one, but a great stride forward toward that goal had been taken, and now if I could but cement the fierce yellow race into this solidarity of nations I should feel that I had rounded out a great lifework, and repaid to Mars at least a portion of the immense debt of gratitude I owed her for having given me my Dejah Thoris.”
(Chapter 16 of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Warlord of Mars – www.literaturepage.com/read/warlordofmars-163.html)
With those words, Edgar Rice Burroughs (ERB) brought the opening trilogy of his eleven-book Barsoom series to its thematic fulfillment and placed the capstone upon a lavish accomplishment of imaginative storytelling. In a work that evoked many of the grand settings and figures of myth and legend, particularly Camelot and its peace-making King, ERB gave us a living Mars and the hero John Carter, who came to be known as the Warlord. First published in All-Story Magazine in 1912, John Carter and his literary sibling Tarzan (published later the same year and also created by ERB), went on to inspire much of the superhero and adventure-based storytelling of the last one hundred years. Landmark creative descendents include Superman, Star Wars and Avatar. Jerry Siegel, George Lucas and James Cameron each cited ERB’s John Carter as a major influence on their own flagship creations. Into this literary and cinematic sphere stepped writer/director Andrew Stanton in March of 2012, with a film adaptation entitled “John Carter”, based on A Princess of Mars, the first book in the Barsoom series. Stanton, a lifelong ERB fan who first discovered the world of Barsoom via the 1970’s Marvel comic book adaptations, was the first filmmaker in a checkered eighty-year development history to successfully bring the property to the big screen.
A friend who knows that I’m an Edgar Rice Burroughs fan recently posed a few questions to me regarding “John Carter”. To paraphrase the questions: What do you feel is the most significant change from book to screen? Is Taylor Kitsch’s performance true to the character you envisioned when reading A Princess of Mars? Is the screen version a faithful adaptation of Burroughs or does Stanton bring a different vision to bear on the story? Do you think the filmmakers chose to emphasize certain elements at the expense of others? Overall, what observations and implications have you drawn from a comparison of the book and the film?
Before sharing my responses to each of the questions, an objective analysis of Andrew Stanton’s fidelity to the source material is in order, as well as a concise summary of his goals, methods and results.