While I love quite a few movies, books and TV shows, I’m not much of a fan, which is to say: when a piece is adapted into a new medium, I’m not inherently against changing stuff to make it fit better.
I liked the Lord of the Rings movies a whole lot better than the books, for example, and the Last of the Mohicans turned a dull book into a gorgeous movie. I loved the recent Sherlock Holmes. There are also a few cases (such as the recent Star Trek movie) that I’ve liked the product enough to forgive the changes that I really didn’t like.
However, I’ve also seen adaptations that have made me want to fling sharp things at my television set. The first Harry Potter movie was heavy and dull, leaving you feeling like you’d just eaten a bowl of dumplings with gravy. I hated the Transformers movie as I’ve hated few movies before it or since. In both of those cases, though, it was because the finished product was inferior, not because of changes that were made.
Unfortunately, I do have a leetle portion of my brain which could be characterized as “the fan part.”
Today I saw a preview for “The Three Musketeers.”
The fan part of my brain is a little similar to the monkey part of my brain. It is very given to freaking out prematurely and often wants to fling foul-scented projectiles at anything it doesn’t like.
I had a hard time jamming the monkey back in the cage after I saw the teaser trailer for Musketeers.
I didn’t mind that the group had been tasked to steal plans for an airship, or that they apparently had gatling guns and some sort of a fire-gun, but when they referred to a woman as wanting to join the Musketeers I just about flipped my lid.
“They made D’Artagnan a woman?” I asked.
In a state of shock I read the synopsis of the movie, and found they had not, in fact, made D’Artagnan a woman.
Then monkey went back in the cage and I started wondering whether I would have liked it if they had, in fact, made D’Artagnan a woman. Would she have picked a duel with all three Musketeers and then set them all for the same time and place? Would she have seduced a servant to get information about Milady? Would she have behaved as piggishly and gallantly as D’Artagnan does, by turns? What would her relationship with Athos have been?
Whether her position would have been transgressive or not would have depended on the setting. If you’re going to add steampunk to the era, you could also add more egalitarian elements to the setting with no problems whatsoever, provided you kept people’s reactions consistent. Then again, a woman doing all those things in the real world at that time would also have been interesting to watch. How on earth would she have gotten away with it?
It’s all an interesting exercise in reimagining a classic, and of course, it might have been absolutely ghastly-awful and exploitative, or it might have just seemed horribly, horribly wrong. We’ll never know.