I’ve been reading Elizabeth Goudge’s work since childhood, almost 40 years of trying to find the next one in the library or second hand bookshop and almost 40 years of rereading the ones I have over and over. The Little White Horse was the first of hers I ever read and it is still magic to me. I was very excited when I first read a film was being made of it but now I’ve seen the trailers and read the synopsis I am so disappointed – no, that’s not strong enough; I feel Outraged – that I can’t see myself paying money to see the film. While I was extremely cross the film-makers changed the title I am now pleased and hope there may be some chance that a good version of it might someday be made.
It was good to read the views expressed on your site, to see I have some kindred spirits.
What has been done to Robin, to Miss Heliotrope, to Sir Benjamin and to so many others? How could they take the Christian theme running through the book (as in so many others of hers) and turn it over to what one of your other readers calls “new age witch”-iness? To completely obliterate Old Parson and therefore deny a happy end to Miss Heliotrope (who as an elder person Hollywood apparently considers unworthy of both romance and dignity) and – worse – destroy the threefold symmetry of the original
Now I’ve had that thought, it occurs to me that Hollywood is just incapable of counting beyond 2. They just cannot conceive of a plot that brings three sets of plot threads together, over two. In this they are constitutionally incapable of dealing with a plot wherein Loveday and Robin in their gatehouse form one group, Moonacre Manor another and the Coq de Noir castle another; or, seen differently, Loveday and Sir Benjamin, Robin and Maria, and Miss Heliotrope and Old Parson; or Wrolf, Periwinkle and Serena (I shudder to think of what hell they have played with the animal characterisations) A tripartite structure escapes them entirely but what a mash they have made of a plot. With an eye to the main chance they have witchified a Christian theme and background and frosted over dehumanised characters which had been beautifully warm and human And all that rubbish about “the last ever Moon Princess”…. They didn’t trust either in the story or the audience.
I’d like just one quote from J K Rowling now on what she thinks of what’s been done to the book. Presumably they are paying her to keep quiet.
I recognise of course that bringing a book such as The Little White Horse to the screen today poses problems There’s a lot of detail and a lot of character motives that would be incomprehensible to the young today. The conflicts which propel the novel are some of them quite subtle, much more so that the obvious antagonism between Moonacre Manor and Coq de Noir. All the characters have to overcome flaws in themselves and to be more accepting of those in others But surely there was enough magic inherent in the book to make more of an effort worthwhile. Generations of readers are disappointed here.