The Storyteller Reports: Wrath of the Titans and J.K. Rowling

RANT OF THE WEEK: Why A Clash of the Titans Sequel Will Hurt American Culture

If you need your memory jogged, Clash of the Titans was a very silly remake of a very silly swords-and-sandals movie from a few decades ago. The powers that be (notice that the word “be” does not denote any active critical thinking here) in Hollywood have decided that Clash of the Titans should have a sequel. It’s already scheduled for next March. And a third film is already being developed.

I am certain that by the time this post goes online, the blogosphere will have exhausted all the good jokes about this. Therefore I have something a little more grim to say about this.

Have you ever read The Iliad or The Odyssey? How about some knightly stories from medieval poets? If you haven’t, they covered all of this monster-slaying and sword-swinging, long before Warner Brothers Studios made it cool. Hundreds of years, they still inflame the imagination. Keats waxed eloquent about Homer’s epics back in 1800s. I read The Faerie Queene for the first time a few months ago. Rarely have I been thrown in such a world of thrill and rapture.

Those old poets also meant something with their stories. When they sent a knight against a dragon, they didn’t do it just to make their audience say, “Wow!” They wanted to point to something higher. The victories and woes of Achilles and Odysseus are meant to show us the meaning of heroism, and faithfulness to the goods. The trials and weaknesses of Sir Gawain and Perceval point out the human condition, the quest for perfection and all the pitfalls that stand in the way.

Do you think Clash of the Titans 2 (or Wrath of the Titians, as it’s officially titled) will have any significance like this? Their heroes might say something lofty, if it sounds cool and manly, but the real business is CGI spectacle. Isn’t it? I guarantee the screenwriters won’t seriously probe life and death will this new epic.

The scariest part? People will go to see this movie,a nd they won’t think about that. Makes you begin to wonder what American society is truly based on. But that’s for another time.

STORYTELLER OF THE WEEK

Okay. You win at last. Good job, J.K. Rowling. You prompted the apathetic masses of America to read books. You even delighted me with Harry’s adventures. It’s about time I bowed humbly and gave credit where credit’s due.

Why you stuck with that silly Lord He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named nonsense for so long is beyond me. He never scared me. But that’s okay. What you did get right you got so right that I’ll remember for the rest of my earthly life.

You created unforgettable characters. Harry, Ron, Hermione and their friends and foes had such lively and convincing personalities that I know them with the same familiarity that I do my own family. Every time Draco opened his big mouth, I wanted to punch him just as badly as Harry did. The best thing about your seven books is slowly watching Harry flirt and fight over seven years, and then wake up one day and realize he’s become a young man.

You brought a school to life. All the little quirks of an educational institution can be so hard to convey in words. You did it as well as anybody ever will. You caught the spirit of studying students. I love those moments where Hermione was stressed, and Ron was muttering about a Potions essay, and how many inches he had to scribble out on a parchment scroll.

You showed me how to write about people. Therefore I salute you. All hail the Storyteller of the Week!

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