August 16, 2006


Earthsea_3 Ursula K. LeGuin, bless her irascible old heart, has written an open letter on her website about the Ghibli Earthsea movie. In it, she proceeds to tear Goro Miyazaki a new one.

LeGuin is a great writer, and reading her blow by blow beatdown of Ghibli is a pleasure. She says that Ghibli's TALES FROM EARTHSEA misses the point of her books, is not very good, and that she is deeply disappointed that Hayao Miyazaki not only didn't direct the picture, but that he was totally uninvolved with the movie. She says she's only speaking out because Goro has posted personal comments she made in support of the movie on his blog, and that she made those comments privately and in order to be polite and they were in no way to be taken as an endorsement of what she sees as a subpar effort.

The most interesting part of the letter is the genuine hurt she seems to feel over Goro replacing Hayao Miyazaki as director of the film. Apparently, Hayao Miyazaki asked about adapting the Earthsea novels 20 years ago and she turned him down, being unfamiliar with his work and not liking animation very much. Then she saw MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO and was sold. She approached Miyazaki and said if he ever wanted to make a movie out of her books she'd be delighted, and she made him an offer of authorship, telling him that he could feel free to explore the gap of 15 years between the first and second EARTHSEA books in order to give his imagination free reign and develop that time as he saw fit. This is an amazingly trusting thing for an author to say to a director and it really testifies to how much confidence she had in Miyazaki. When Goro was proposed as the director, LeGuin says she only said yes because Hayao Miyazaki said he would be involved, but to her it soon became apparent that he wasn't and she was told he had retired from filmmaking. You can hear the betrayal in her voice when she writes: "I am told that Mr Hayao has not retired after all, but is now making another movie. This has increased my disappointment. I hope to put it behind me."

Anyways, read the letter. It says it all, and more, better than I ever could. This isn't the first time LeGuin has spoken out about a film adaptation of her work that she finds subpar. This open letter is a sequel of sorts to a much harsher open letter she wrote regarding the Sci Fi Channel's EARTHSEA miniseries.

(Thanks to Michi at HogaCentral for the news)

August 16, 2006 at 01:04 PM in News | Permalink


She didn't have too many nice things to say about the Sci-Fi Channel Earthsea either... I guess eventually she'll produce/direct her own adaptation.

Posted by: EDouglas | Aug 17, 2006 4:19:51 AM

We've seen what can happen when writers get too convinced that they could adapt their own works better than filmmakers. Maximum Overdrive, anyone?

Remember: "We made YOU!"

Posted by: David Austin | Aug 17, 2006 7:02:14 AM

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