Fallen Idol

The Secret of Moonacre.

Or whatever have they done to Robin?

I thought of going to see the film, although I was apprehensive the moment I heard about it. After the TV version just what horrors were to come? Then I decided to look at the website, to get a preview I thought innocently.” The Little White Horse” was getting some recognition at last. But, oh, the worst WAS yet to come. I looked at the trailer and then the extracts. Like, no doubt, many others who know the book I wondered if I had got the right trailer so, like a masochist, I watched it all again. Yes, this was supposed to be The Little White Horse. I have not plucked up courage to see the whole film, even though it is showing at a cinema not two miles away. That would be beyond the call of duty.

Apart from them using the names of some, and only some, of the characters I would never have guessed that it had anything to do with the book. What puzzles me is why they claim to be making a film of the book and then they ignore it. These fantasy things are popular with sub-teen girls, fair enough, but why not just write a story anyway? Why massacre a known and loved book?

My especial grouse is about their treatment of Robin. (I fell for Robin when I first read the book, nearly sixty years ago, aged eight – just the sort of boy/man to appeal to me. I suspect that I spent my life looking for Robin – and I never found him!) To change him so completely knocks the stuffing out of the story. His quiet strength, courage and determination form the rock on which Maria relies. To make him into a bandit is ridiculous. That image of him with a face mask and a frill of feathers round his neck still haunts me, as if they had done it as an insult to a friend of mine.

Miss Heliotrope was never my favourite character, she was a bit too good for my liking, but I admired her good qualities and her determination to do her best, even if she had lost her love. There is a satisfying conclusion in the story when she and Old Parson find each other again. At least it happens in the story if not often in real life. What the film-makers decided to do with her is just silly. The book has within it a wonderful character just waiting to be picked off the page.

If I cannot forgive them for what they did to Robin, then Loveday comes a close second. In the story it is her quiet motherly qualities which are essential, so why turn her into a new-age witch?

I understand fully that the, now unfortunate, title of the “black men” needs to be faced, but why not do what was done for the audio book version a few years ago? The expression “the men from the dark woods” worked very well when I first listened to it,¬† I was halfway through before it dawned on me what they had done. That just shows how neatly they dealt with it.

Why was Marmaduke Scarlet turned into a demented elf? He is very down-to-earth and practical as are all good cooks. His meals and EG’s wonderful descriptions of them have stayed with me all my life, indeed I think the tea he provided for them all at the end of the book would happily serve as my last meal. When I first read Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling’s descriptions of the food at Hogwarts reminded me immediately of The Little White Horse¬† it was lovely to read that she also had appreciated Marmaduke’s meals.

The website for the film is attracting comments, which seem to fall into two camps, sub-teens seem to like the story as shown in the film but just as many people hate what has been done to the book, and some of these sound broken-hearted. I think we can understand this, and at least it is good to know there are a lot of people out there who care about The Little White Horse.

If this was America could we sue the film-makers for the distress caused to all the fans of The Little White Horse?
Doreen Brown

 

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