Dear Mr. Riordan,
As an educator, a former production and executive assistant in Hollywood, and an aspiring YA novelist I just wanted to send some sympathy your way.
My 9 year old son and I—both fans of your book The Lightning Thief—went to see the new film version of it last Friday.
My 9 year old really loved it—with caveats.
I was willing to go along with the inevitable book-to-film discrepancies for most of the movie. I understand that they are two different (very different) types of media and as such they need to be allowed to approach their audiences in their own particular idiom.
I get that.
I was good with that.
Until Persephone was in Hades.
During the summer.
A smashing good ride (which the movie sometimes was) is nothing in the face of trashing the mythology upon which your entire story is built. I really was stunned. I can understand some of the changes (aging the characters to make their heroism a little more believable even though it removed the coming-of-age-13-ness, cutting much of the mystery you so carefully built, moving entire chunks of story to other locations, taking away Hades’ spectacular monologue from the book was less forgivable…but, you know…they didn’t use a screenplay written by you, did they?). I did appreciate Los Angeles being Hades. And unlike others, I quite liked the three main actors—I thought they were better than could be expected given the often leaden dialogue.
But really? Persephone in Hell in the summer? (Not to mention the other conundrums they created by not following your book more closely.)
It’s a different kind of hell.
The only thing I can hope is that the hubris shown by the movie makers takes a Greek turn and gets all mythological on their… ahem… well… you get my drift.
I loved—LOVED—how you snuck real mythology into your book in such unassuming and clever ways that when my son eventually picks up Ovid or Bullfinch, he’ll feel as though he’s revisiting old friends. I weep for the film-goers who haven’t read your rollicking text, who, when they eventually get around to learning mythology (if they do) will instead find themselves confused because—once again—Hollywood thought them too stupid to understand mythology, or worse, couldn’t find a way to “sell” ancient mythology to modern Tweens.
Seems that the Emperor has no clothes on that one, what with mythology entertaining millions over the past thousands of years.
But what do I know.
I’m just a teacher.
Nonetheless, as teacher, and as a former wage slave in Hollywoodland, I hope you can accept my apology on behalf of the rest of Hollywood. For what it’s worth, they know not what they do*.
* “No One Knows Anything [in Hollywood].”—William Goldman