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Posted: Sep. 8, 2002
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Question of the Week: 51 - 7/23/2001
What Did You Think of 'The Mists of Avalon"?
What did you think of the TNT mini-series, 'The Mists of Avalon'? How well did it compare with the book? Were you happy or disappointed with the interpretation? Even if you have not read the book nor seen the movie, what do you think about the Arthurian Legends? Why are they so enduring? Which Arthurian Legend character most speaks to you and why? Do you think that there is a real-life historical basis for the Legends?
| Reponses: There are 44 responses posted to this question.
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| Even Julianna Margulies (actress For Morgaine) Said That The Movie Needed 12... ||Jul 26th. at 2:10:28 am UTC|
|Calypso (Billings MT// NC, Montana US) ||Age: 30 |
Even Julianna Margulies (actress for Morgaine) said that the movie needed 12 hours, not 4. She also mentioned that every woman she knew had approached her about this project, ecstatic that the book was finally getting TV time. (WHAT TOOK SO LONG!!?????!!!!!) I agree - NOT ENUF TIME for the movie. Ms. Bradley's novel is so geniusly executed...Too many threads were lost in the movie, threads which explained more thoroughly the multiple motivations driving the characters. There was too little character development, and it relied far too heavily on stereotypes, tho certainly not to any extent that Hollywood usually relies. Altho there was more balance to the presentation of the Craft, I was still pretty sensitive about the "She's just an evil old sorceress!" accusation, and some rather pat explanations. I do understand, however, that in our circle at least one woman was able to watch it with her husband, who had been giving her sudden and unexpected problems about her evenings with "that demonic cult, " and he became much more open to her beliefs. I hope that, despite its many shortfalls, the film opened the way for greater understanding by many who aren't reached but by the media. This is not the kind of movie to normally get as much advance attention as it did, and the story's power is proven by the "star power" of the cast. There are so many popular archetypes in this story that it can't rest. Many other stories this old did not become as popular, because they were not based on nobility. Those, like the Grimm and other Euro fairy tales, did survive more successfully, because they did involve the nobility element.
I picked up the novel some time after I had already "formally" started studying this path...and it got me really excited about that decision. The second time I read the novel I picked up primarily on the politics and personal agendas. I think that a great book, like great composers, can show you new things every time you partake of it. It's probably one of the best books I've ever read - hope anyone who hasn't read it yet gets it asap. A tremendous adventure - and deeply affecting affirmation of this path!
| Even With Working Two Jobs, I Made The Time To Watch At... ||Jul 26th. at 4:24:03 am UTC|
|Jade Woulf (Columbia, South Carolina US) ||Age: 20 |
Even with working two jobs, I made the time to watch at least part one of the mini series. I have only read the first part of the actual book, and of course I love it so far, I plan on picking it back up once my life gets back to normal in August (when I return to school).
My thoughts on the movie: First of all, I am a bit of a purist when it comes to making movies from books, so forgive my opinion. I have only seen the first part, and I was slightly disappointed, but realized with the amount of time they had they did a halfway decent job of remaining true to the book (this is the first part). What I loved: the music (The Mystic's Dream was used VERY appropriately), Angelica Huston as Viviane (I don't know why, but she seemed to be perfect for the part), the costuming, and the set designs.
From talking with friends of my school's Pagan group I have gathered this, those that have not read the book loved part one and found part two decent. Those that have read the book, found the first part ranged from ok to great. As for the second, well, as one person put it: "What the (bleep) was that?!?"
From what I understand, most of my friends who have read the entire book felt that the second part borrowed heavily from other versions of the legend, characters were changed and/or completely dropped/left out, and one person said that it seemed that Morgause basically became Excalibur's version of Morgan Le Fay.
Even if the movie was nothing like the book, it is a BIG step forward for all Pagans. For the first time we are perceived in a positive light with none of the "hocus pocus" stuff. I had been afraid that the screenplay writer would be tempted to lure audiences with promises of spells and old hags standing around a cauldron saying, "Boil boil toil and trouble." If I had not read any of the book, I probably would have found the movie awesome and great publicity for Pagans everywhere. I ended up finding it decent (in regards to the first part), and great publicity for Pagans everywhere.
On a side note, someone said that MZB was not a Pagan, but if you read at the end or beginning of the book (depends on which edition you have I guess) there is a message from a close friend of MZB's. In it she says that MZB was a Priestess and introduced her to "the Mysteries." However, MZB spent her last days going to church on a regular basis. Someone from my school group raised the question could MZB have modeled Igraine's character after herself? This might be understandable if MZB had family that was involved in the church and she wished to remain with them.
| Did I Like The Movie - No. Have I Read The Book - Only... ||Jul 26th. at 5:57:38 pm UTC|
|Lily WhiteRaven (Shelton, Washington US) ||Age: 26 - Email |
Did I like the movie - no. Have I read the book - only about thirty times. I will be one among many to repeat that it is truly impossible to have compressed such an epic tale into just a few short hours. Yes, I agree that it would have been wiser to expand the film to a greater length. On the other hand, I don't think that could have begun to save the movie that was made. I never waited to see the second half, and neither did anyone I know.
I found myself wondering why, when two of the main characters were written as diminutive women, and a third as tall, in the film it was reversed, with a small-statured Samantha Mathis playing the willowy Gwen, and the tall, lovely Angelica Huston as a Viviane. Julianna Margulies is nearly as tall as Huston. But that is a totally visual observation. What about the important part of this discussion? The content itself.
I freely admit that I wrote TNT the day after part one aired, and here are all the lovely comments I sent them:
To whom it may concern,
First, allow me to thank you for producing a film I have waited over twelve years to see made. However, I, and I am sure many others, are less than happy with the outcome. The book by Marion Zimmer Bradley had an undercurrent of humanism that your adaptation is sorely lacking. The motives for the actions of the characters seem totally arbitrary, and, while Christianity is barely seen, the Old Religion is being portrayed as a cruel and hard system of beliefs. I understand that you may not have had time to explore all the gentle nuances of the original story, but I feel it was needless to so totally destroy the fact that very human passions and fears are the driving force behind it. The character of Viviane has been rewritten into a hard, conniving woman whose only goal is manipulation; a complete deviation from the woman written into the book, whose goal was to save her way her life. The empathy and love is missing from this narrative, making it a sensationalist and shallow story. Thank you.
No, I did not make up my own vision of how the Craft appeared in the film. I had the honor of having my (Christian) husband watch the movie with me. He has been listening to me ramble on about "an it harm none" and my Gods for years. Incidentally, he was also disturbed by how the Craft was portrayed. A positive vision? I didn't think so, not with a Viviane whose actions are never explained, but appear to be based on her own whims. And I have no idea where anyone is getting the idea that Christianity came off so badly. I saw little to no evidence of the White Christ at all.
I even received an email a week ago that told me how sad the writer was that "Morgaine didn't hold on to the Goddess for her whole life". I agree, especially since I did see pieces of the second half including a, to me, slightly disturbing ending that showed a Morgaine, totally disconnected from her religion, looking on a stone figure of the Mother wrapped in the mantle of Christ's mother, and standing in a Christian nave. I have to wonder, did the screenwriters and director ever even read this book? The Mists of Avalon was first printed almost twenty years ago. I know that there have been many people who have been interested in making this book into a movie over the years. I have to wonder about the fact that it wasn't produced until after Marion Zimmer Bradley's death. After seeing the movie, I am almost sure that she would not have been a willing to partner to the screenplay that emerged.
Am I overprotective of my religion and the views presented to world on its behalf? Yes. No apologies for being worried. It doesn't take much to rile up the religious rite, and I have no desire to have them on my doorstep with more incorrect propoganda. I am a quiet person, as are most or all of you. I live in a good neighborhood, in a small town, and I know that at least some of my neighbors are aware of my religious preference. I don't need my child, my husband, or myself harassed or threatened by people who have been given the wrong idea of what I believe.
Please do not take this as an attack of any of the opinions listed here, it most certainly is not. However, I have trouble believing that I was the only one who had some of these concerns. If someone who doesn't believe in this path could see the poor portrayal in this film, I fear for what the radicals who saw it may do.
| Actually, I Enjoyed Mists Of Avalon The Mini-series. However, I Do Agree... ||Jul 26th. at 10:28:43 pm UTC|
|Juniper Jupiter (Overland Park, Kansas US) ||Age: 27 |
Actually, I enjoyed Mists of Avalon the mini-series. However, I do agree with others on this topic that it wasn't long enough. I got the answer(although it may not be correct, nyuk nyuk). Turn it in to a TV show series!! Heck, once the first book is done, just start up on the Lady of Avalon, and so forth!!
Keep in mind that even though I did like the mini-series, just like ninety-nine point nine nine nine nine nine percent of all movies that are based on books, the mini-series paled excruciatedly(Sp?) to the book.
Peace and Blessed be to y'all!!
| Wife And I Both Enjoyed The Movie Very Much. Could It Have... ||Jul 27th. at 10:51:16 am UTC|
|Thane (fairfax, Virginia US) ||Age: 36 |
Wife and I both enjoyed the movie very much. Could it have been done better? Certainly. It was also refreshing to see a movie actually use costuming that was at least acceptable for the time period. (No shining 16th century armor sillynesss).
Certainly there could have been more "spelled out" by making the movie longer, but I think the length was about right. Allows you to read between the lines and ponder motives. Maybe I'm too old but I like a bit of mystery in a story. I don't need to know every minute detail of motive of a character.
| I Liked The Movie Somewhat, But Mostly I Thought It Was A... ||Jul 27th. at 12:25:12 pm UTC|
|Emerald (Fort Lauderdale, Florida US) ||Age: 20 |
I liked the movie somewhat, but mostly I thought it was a big setup for a huge letdown. The book was much better than the movie, of course, but not just because that's to be expected, but because TNT tried to compress into 4 hours what they really needed at least 6 hours to actually do. They put a lot more into their production of Animal Farm than they did for Mists. I liked the actors and the way they portraid their characters, but they needed more time. But hey, at least it's out there now, a major film production that exposes a little bit of what we believe to the public eye.
| Loved The Books So Much.tnt's Production Was Well Acted And Beautifully Produced... ||Jul 27th. at 5:45:29 pm UTC|
|medusa (seattle, Washington US) ||Age: 50 |
Loved the books so much.TnT's production was well acted and beautifully produced I had the feeling the book was coming alive, however the plot was a disappointment. There was so many details and stories left out of the miniseries that the book lost all of its depth and meaning and just became a step about Sabrina the teenage witch in its discussion and portrayal of the Goddess and her followers. But then people always say never read the book first or you will be very disappointed. Maybe the mini series will make people want to read her books and be pleasantly surprized.
| I Have Read The Book (and The Other Ones In The Series... ||Jul 27th. at 6:49:10 pm UTC|
|Iko (Mists Of Lake Michigan (Chicago), Illinois US) ||Age: 37 - Email |
I have read the book (and the other ones in the series). All in all, I would give the mini-series a B. The actors were better than the script, and there really was no way to condense that much book into four hours. What is GREAT is that we have some powerhouse, well-respected women actors running around talking about the Goddess and kicking just as much Arthurian butt as the next guy (or gal). Maybe part of the problem with the script was that TNT was afraid to go too far in pushing the envelope with middle-America sensitivities and tried to keep it, for lack of a better term, "Wicca Lite." The ending was a sell-out, I believe, to those aforementioned middle-American sensitivities.
I believe the Arthurian legends are so enduring, and hold up to being told many different ways (as demonstrated by twist the "Mists of Avalon" puts on it). They hold up because they touch on values (honesty, integrity, guts, loyalty, etc) that most of us agree are important to maintain society (no matter how those words are over used and misused by politicians - especially ones on the far right). The legends basically are karma dramas. They show that we have choices in life and that when we choose badly there will be a price to pay. They also demonstrate the consequence of inaction may be as high as that of action. In this way the Arthurian legends work just as well as a Christian morality play as they would for any other religion. No matter how they are told the Arthurian legends touch on our sense of wonder and need for fantasy.
Perhaps the stories have some nugget of truth in the people and places involved, but I do not believe there is any solid historical basis for the stories. That in now way, however, should detract from what the stories have to tell us.
| First, With A Nod To All That Have Posted Here, Please Understand... ||Jul 28th. at 12:24:38 pm UTC|
|Rev. Carolyne Kleinman (Round Rock, Texas US) ||Age: 43 - Email |
First, with a nod to all that have posted here, please understand - "Mists of Avalon" is NOT "Wicca" - it is a broad, bold attempt to describe the Ancient Mystery Schools of Britannia, aka "Druidry" from the few existing fragments of Truth that can be sifted from the dust and remains of that faith due to the well-organized jihads of the Roman Catholic Church. I give Ted Turner a "two-thumbs up" for both the production and promotion of Ms. Bradley's work. It is courage such as his that gives all of us associated with the Ancient Ones an "extra boost" to keep going despite the acts of bigotry and narrow-minded intolerance we face on a daily basis.
I was proud of the attempt to put the most significant threads of the book into the teleplay, but a bit disappointed that the weaving of the bard "Kevin" was left out, while the Merlin had passed - quick provisions were made that the "Old Religion" was not left without a functioning titular lead as balanced with Morgaine in the feminine. On the other hand, I wished that the "sundering of the worlds" had been played up a bit more. It is this single act that sets the stage for the secular world as we know it today, i.e. the passing of the balanced matriarch/patriarchal world view versus the heavy-handed patriarchal sanctimonious dogma of the early Church.
The Arthurian legends speak to us all about overcoming the baser natures of humanity and striving to bring about the balance of Camelot. Let star-crossed lovers, betrayal between siblings and secular genocide enter the picture and you have a dream not deferred, but destroyed. Was there a real Camelot? Victors are ever so ready to re-write history, and chances are that something very close to the legend DID exist. However, the understanding should prevail that the insanity behind Camelot is something that is repeated over and over again. Wise heads are usually muzzled with threats against the very ones that they love and teach, until the wisdom they have to offer dies with them. Our own humanity trips us up given half the chance.
One other thing, to those that would dare to dream of placing our beautiful legends and beliefs on the "Little-Big Screen" - TRY to make it fit into one night! Organizing Pagans is still like bagging cats, herding chickens, teaching Jello to sit up, etc., etc., etc.
Walking the Path of the Ancient Ones,
| I'm With All Of You On One Thing--as A Sixteen-year-old Who'd... ||Jul 28th. at 8:53:28 pm UTC|
|Cat (Asheville, North Carolina US) ||Age: 34 |
I'm with all of you on one thing--as a sixteen-year-old who'd no idea she was a proto-pagan, I begged for the book for Christmas the year it came out, got it, and loved it with all its flaws. I'm probably not with all of you in that I think it had plenty of those, but still, it was a noble effort, and a very refreshing take on the legend. Can't think of anybody, that would be ANYBODY, else who really questions the villainy of the wicked sister, or the tying of women's sexuality to moral ruin for the realm, which pervades the later versions of the Matter of Britain.
Mini-series. Well, Julianna's a babe, no question about it, but otherwise I was pretty disappointed. Not just by length--wouldn't it have made a nice mini-series, the kind that takes all season to unwind?--but by the fact that Morgaine isn't seen really DOING anything. Her murders, which the book makes an effort both to justify and to show her paying for, are whitewashed out of existence, as are most of her affairs (after *Sex and the City*, we STILL daren't show a sexually liberated woman on prime time? Give me a break!) Her magic is totally downplayed. The incest angle, yeah, it was there (good for prime time on that one), but even in a four-hour movie that needed sixteen, look how much screen time was wasted. So they showed the group sex that was Bradley's (fairly cool) trademark, but did it really need 15 minutes, or one-sixteenth of the available time? At least half an hour of epic battles: what was with that? The book wasn't ABOUT epic battles (one of its chief charms.) When time is of the essence, do we really need to add a scene that never would've been in the book, that is, Morgause's murder of Viviane? So strange; seems like on TV we can't recuperate one "bad" woman without making another one much, much worse. Finally, (spoiler ahead, be warned) Morgaine is forever shut out of Avalon, NEVER becomes Lady of the Lake, and says "oh, never mind, it's all okay because of the Virgin Mary"?? Eeeyagh.
Yeah, it's better than nothing. Yeah, I'm glad they tried (and Julianna is still a babe.) But I can't help feeling they cut the important stuff about women, about magic, and about relationships between people in favor of the trivial and sensational. Pretty sad.
| I Had Read The Book Just A Few Days Before (great Book... ||Jul 29th. at 12:36:21 am UTC|
|Silver Owl (Trophy Club, Texas US) ||Age: 14 |
I had read the book just a few days before (great book, second best to Ender's Game) and so I was excited at the prospect of seeing the miniseries, so I flipped on the TV to take a look- and watch the miniseries.
I read a lot, so I have seen a lot of twisted adaptions of the books I've read. I just grimace and bear it(no grinning here). But this- this!- was exceptional- it exceeded the horribleness I have come to expect from movies that are adapted from books I have read.
I only watched an hour's worth before I couldn't stand any more. I hope they don't make Ender's Game into a movie, that's all I can say.
| I Really Can't Compare The Book To The Mini-series. I Read The... ||Jul 29th. at 2:08:35 am UTC|
|Bryony Ravenwillow (Kansas City , Missouri US) ||Age: 32 |
I really can't compare the book to the mini-series. I read the book many years ago, before I became pagan, and as the years passed I forgot a lot of the details. While I enjoyed the book, it didn't awaken any interest in paganism or Goddess worship. It was reading Jean Auel's "The Valley of Horses" that did that.
That said, I have to admit that I loved the mini-series, even aware that they had to cut huge chunks out and sacrifice entire subplots to fit it into the allotted time. I have it taped and I've watched it twice. I thought it was wonderful that they showed paganism in a positive light, even though the portrayal wasn't perfect (where was that Beltaine maypole? A later custom, perhaps?). I can't vouch for the accuracy or lack thereof of the ending, but Morgaine's observation that the Goddess wasn't dead, merely in another incarnation, was a true one, I believe. There are closeted pagans out there who do use Catholic images of various saints and the Virgin Mary as a smokescreen for their true beliefs.
It could have been worse. It could have been "The Craft".
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