should Terry Brooks Shannara series be made into a movie trilogy?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Rob-Gr, Nov 21, 2002.

  1. Rob-Gr

    Rob-Gr Agent

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    Anyone who has read Terry Brooks Shannara series knows how good the books are. Does anyone here feel that they should be made into a trilogy what with the success of Lord Of The Rings?
     
  2. Dana Fillhart

    Dana Fillhart Supporting Actor

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    Rob,
    The Wishsong of Shannara was my first adult-level fantasy novel I read, and for many reasons it is still my favorite novel to date.
    Having said that, I think there may be problems in bringing this particular series to the big screen, particularly so close in time to the Lord of the Rings film series. The reason: Brooks borrowed heavy from Tolkien, and as such he may likely be treated by the public like a rip-off.
    Brooks, however, is a master at creating great depths of emotion, and if this aspect of his storytelling could somehow be captured on-screen, I would gladly support it.
    I think his Magic Kingdom: For Sale series might work better as an introduction to Brooks -- there is just as much fantasy storytelling there, and Brooks' deep character involvement is at its best here.
    I was actually doing a mental exercise recently of wondering what it'd take for somebody like myself -- a no-name non-director with no film experience -- to craft the Shannara series into a Final Fantasy-style film, using currently available software. I quickly rejected the idea, knowing the software is still way too much in its infancy for a small-team enterprise to develop something that complex. Still, it's a nice fantasy (pun intended [​IMG]) to want to see my favorite novels on the big screen!
    How about Weis and Hickman's Dragonlance saga -- specifically, the first 3 (or more, depending on where you draw the line) of the series (Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Dragons of Winter Night, Dragons of Spring Dawning) and the second trilogy (Time of the Twins, War of the Twins, Test of the Twins -- a series with one of the most emotional scenes I ever read: The cataclysmic destruction of Istar).
    And of course, Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series.
    And Jack Chalker's Well World saga and his Rings of the Master series -- great sci-fi/fantasy that could be done brilliantly if the right director stepped to the plate.
    And Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever...whoa, just thinking of the sunbane on a big screen....*shivers*! [​IMG]
    There is an incredible wealth of fantasy put out over the past 25 years. Tolkien started it, but it remained a small-niche product. Terry Brooks, though, popularized it with Shannara, and from there it took off through the roof for 15 years, until the early 90's, when the genre pretty much died softly. Now, with the burgeoning of fantasy on film, and a renaissance of science fiction on the silver screen, the time may be right to look into these great stories of the past three decades, and bring them to life.
    Only, though, if they end up in the hands of competent filmmakers!
    Who, then, would you suggest to direct any of Brooks' stories? Me, I would want a director who can best capture the essence of the characters' emotions through their actions and interactions, because that was (for me) the best aspect of Brooks' storywriting. I want to see the Ohmsfords, Shannaras, and the Leahs, Allanon and the druids, the Elessidils, the Bohs, the Ellcrys, the Mord Wraiths, the Jacyrah, the Illdatch, the Grimpond Ward, the Warlock Lord, Garet Jax, and all the others throughout the entirety of the three series...but I want them presented right!
    Sounds like an insurmountable task...but if Peter Jackson can do it with the granddaddy of fantasy...
     
  3. Craig S

    Craig S Producer

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    I'm in the camp that considers Brooks' Shannara books to be "Tolkien light". They're more accessible than Tolkien, and are without a doubt fun reads. But for me, they don't stick in the memory like LotR. I've read LotR 6 or 7 times so far, and will probably read it many more times, but I have no real desire to re-read Brooks' series.
    That said, I think the Shannara saga in the right hands could be a highly entertaining set of movies. I think Robert Rodriquez might be someone who could pull this off.
    The Thomas Covenant books would be tougher to adapt. Stephen Donaldson's world is highly imaginative, but Covenant is perhaps too morose & introspective to make a good film protagonist.
     
  4. Dave Falasco

    Dave Falasco Screenwriter

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    Great topic, and great response, Dana. I've read every book you mentioned, and I agree with the points you made.
    My first impulse when I read the subject header was to reply that the Shannara series was just too close to the Lord of the Rings, as has been pointed out. But after thinking about it, that is true mostly for the very first book (Sword of Shannara). It has the unlikely little people as heroes (Flick and Shea), the forbidding, otherwordly wizard (Allanon), the dark Lord who can only be defeated with one magic item, etc. And although it reads quite differently (and remains one of my most-read books in high school), the similarities to the LOTR would make it an easy target for critics to cry "Ripoff!"
    But...what about the second book? The Elfstones of Shannara was quite different from the first, IIRC. It's been over a decade since I've read it, but the quest was to renew the tree that kept the demon world at bay, right? (Boy, that sounds stupid when written that way, but it was really cool in the book). Wil has the Elfstones but doesn't know how to use them, the characters are quite different, and if care is taken to avoid all Gandalf-like imagery around Allanon (maybe humanize him and emphasize his own torment at being the last Druid and not being able to be completely honest with his charges) I think the story could be told differently enough so that it wouldn't automatically invite LOTR comparisons.
    Well, if nothing else, this topic has inspired me to see if I can dig up my copies of the books again. [​IMG]
     
  5. Graham Perks

    Graham Perks Second Unit

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    Please, no! These were awful books.
    IMHO [​IMG]
     
  6. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    Terry Brooks sold the rights to the Magic Kingdom for Sale-- Sold! series to Fox a while back. Don't know what will become of them, but I would at least like to see the first one as a basis for a movie.

    If done in the right way, it could be bolstered into an even better story than the book itself. A rich lawyer is disenfranchised with the world in which he lives, sees an ad for an impossible dream (buy your own fantasy world out of a famous and respected department store's Christmas catalog), and thinks it will be an easy way to buy his way out of his personal problems and start fresh (his friends think he has, rightly, flipped-- he's a bit skeptical himself)... only to find that he got more than he bargained for and must now work hard to set things right in a strange and beautiful world full of magic and danger he knows so little about (that has almost been completely be-spoiled by the greed of its previous overseers, who have been selling and re-selling the world to rich and seedy low-life characters with no regards for the people and fairie creatures living there-- analogous to our situation on Earth right now). Landover also happens to be a gateway to other dimensions and other connected worlds (sequel potential).

    Hmmm...

    Dan
     
  7. Phil Florian

    Phil Florian Screenwriter

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    What about the derivitive but very enjoyable Raymond Feist novels The Riftwar books? While clearly influenced by both Dungeons and Dragons and Tolkein, the last two books in the trilogy were excellent and had great politcal intrigue as well as memorable scenes. Though I would vote for the Dragonlance books, as well. But yes, Shannara is a bit TOO derivitive to be made into a new trilogy...which means it probably has the best chance of being made by the derivitive happy Hollywood! [​IMG]
    Phil
     
  8. Jon W H

    Jon W H Stunt Coordinator

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    My vote would go to Riftwar as well! My problem, though, is that I prefer the fantasy movies to have more of a "darker" look to them, ala Dragonslayer.
    Nothing personal against the Tolkien series.
     
  9. JohnE

    JohnE Supporting Actor

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    Personally I think any of the first three books would work well as a movie. But like Dave I think Elfsones or the third book, I forget the name, would make for a more entertaining movie. If I'm remembering right, the third book in the series seems especially dark. It's been a damn long time since I read them though so my memory is a bit hazy about that.
     
  10. Ryan FB

    Ryan FB Second Unit

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    Maybe I'm crazy, but I'd like to see R.A. Salvatore's Drizzt Do'Urden books (maybe the Cleric Quintet with Cadderly as well) made into movies...not exactly a trilogy (so far it's 14 books from 3 trilogies and a quintet, with the aforementioned "spinoff" quintet in addition to those), but they're great fantasy novels that I feel could make the transition into great movies. I must admit though that to make all of them into movies would be quite a massive undertaking.
     

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