Yahoo Interview: John Carter Archivist Bill Hillman compares the book to the movie

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Note from Dotar: Bill Hillman is the curator of the Erbzine sites which are the definitive archive of Edgar Rice Burroughs life and works. He has been a great friend to this site, and more importantly a stalwart defender of the legacy of Edgar Rice Burroughs.  I just stumbled, belatedly as it turns out, across this interview and want to make sure as many people as possible see it. Please share.

From Yahoo Movies:  Bill Hillman is the editor, archivist, and webmaster for the official Edgar Rice Burroughs [ERB] Tribute Websites and Webzines. He’s done this for over 12 years now, working closely with Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. [ERB, Inc.] in Tarzana, California. Hillman has been waiting for a “John Carter” (“JC,” as he calls it) movie since reading his first comic book featuring the hero in 1952.

I had a chance to interview Hillman about the new “John Carter” movie after he and Burroughs’s living relatives attended a press screening hosted by Disney.

What is your relationship or affiliation with Edgar Rice Burroughs?
I have created and maintained all the official Edgar Rice Burroughs sites over the last 12 years, working closely with ERB, Inc. I have created and maintain over 10,000 webpages; a dozen unique websites; and two weekly webzines (all in archive) … all of this from my Brandon, Manitoba, office up here in the frozen north.

Danton Burroughs (ERB’s grandson and head of ERB, Inc.) seemed to be impressed by my efforts to promote his grandfather’s legacy on the Web and I took over the website that had been run by Disney in 2000. Until Danton’s untimely death in 2008, we engaged in countless hours of telephone conversations and together we explored and photographed the jungle of memorabilia in the Burroughs Tarzana archive.

Danton inherited the packrat gene from his illustrious grandfather, and he made it his life’s work to guard this material so that it may be passed along to countless ERB and sci-fi/adventure fans worldwide. Since his death, this torch has been passed along to his family and to ERB, Inc.’s president Jim Sullos and longtime office staff.


Compare the movie to the books.

[“John Carter” director] Andrew Stanton and his co-screenwriters brought a fresh re-telling to ERB’s 100-year-old tale. They changed the character and motivation of the protagonist. They retooled the ages-old heroic fighting man, John Carter, into a jaded warrior, who had suffered the brutal loss of his family.

Numerous plot elements, such as the Atmosphere plant, were left out. Characters and events that did not appear until later books were brought in. The Holy Therns were given universal powers and were given a very destructive ninth ray weapon. The air ships appear to be mainly solar powered with no mention of ERB’s eighth ray. The Tharks/Green Men were not as tall as ERB described them … but obviously 15-foot creatures combating a 6-foot John Carter would not be practical to film. Dejah’s role as a super scientist was only hinted at in ERB’s tale but certainly contributed to the film … and no doubt will play an important part in any sequels. The list [of differences] is fairly long.

What was good about the movie?

I feel that the changes that Stanton made gave it a 21st century freshness and certainly made for a well-plotted and exciting film which paved the way for sequels, where I’m sure many of the missing events from the first novel will be worked into the plot. You might be able to tell that I am thrilled about the “JC” film. I’ve been waiting for this since I read my first John Carter comic back in 1952.

Read the rest at Yahoo Interviews

One thought on “Yahoo Interview: John Carter Archivist Bill Hillman compares the book to the movie

  • Billiam Hillman-

    Finally I found someone who has waited for this movie longer than me! And it’s funny that my assessment of what was good about the film is the same as you — I am thrilled with it, too.

    As far as all the changes they did from the book, I think you and I view the glass as being half full. The best answer I ever heard to the old riddle about whether the glass is half empty or half full, is that it depends on if you’re thirsty.

    Well, I think you and me, friend, got pretty damn thirsty waiting all these years for this movie to be made.

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