READY PLAYER ONE & SOME THOUGHTS ON MEDIUM

Dear Reader,

This morning I watched the trailer for Ready Player One and I got chills. The story is about a boy living in a world that exists primarily online–in The Oasis–rather than in reality.

I listened to this book during the spring semester of my sophomore year and was obsessed. It began during my workouts–to motivate me to spend more than just twenty minutes on the elliptical–but I ended up playing it constantly. I had it going as I walked to class, as I did my laundry, even as I worked on my Big/Little reveal shirt in our suite, while in the company of others. One time I found myself at work much too early, so I took a few laps around the library and continued listening to the story. I laughed out loud at times, and even gasped when they mentioned Hamilton, Ohio–a town I visited almost weekly while on campus.

The story was so captivating and thought-provoking, and by listening to it, I really saw it play out like a movie in my head. So you can imagine my extreme excitement when I happened upon the trailer this morning.

Like I said–chills. I think this story could be beautifully translated into a movie. I think a lot of stories could. It all felt so real and magical in my head, but seeing the Oasis and the adventure on the big screen could be truly amazing. I mean, we have so much at our disposal to make these sci-fi and fantasy stories come to life. It worked well with Harry Potter–YEARS ago–and with Fantastic Beasts, we were shown how much more can be done to tell the story now. And tell it in a way that does the original work justice. Perhaps tell it in a way that it was meant to be told.

This got me thinking about medium. Again, I just recently mentioned Edgar Wright popping up on the screen before Baby Driver began and thanking the audience for coming to see his creation–the work that he wrote and directed–in it’s intended form. He was talking about coming to the theater, of course, but it also spoke about the medium he chose. Baby Driver had a great storyline with vibrant characters and could be made into a play or a novel or even a cartoon, but it excelled as a live-action movie. And maybe Wright can’t draw or chose against a novel because he wanted the audience to hear the music (which is integral to the story and the experience), but this story that only existed in his head, he had to get out in some form. This form was cinema, and it worked beautifully. And I don’t think it’d be the same in any other form.

Still, going back to Harry Potter, some books excel on the big screen. And some certainly don’t–I’m looking at you, Eragon and Percy Jackson. So whenever I see that a favorite book of mine is being adapted into a movie, I’m first excited because I think of all the possible routes they might take, but I’m also worried that they’re going to screw everything up.

But people are always going to make books into movies and classics into graphic novels and stories into musicals and so on and so on and so on. One of my favorite books, Noughts and Crosses, was made into a graphic novel and is supposedly being turned into a show on the BBC. Another favorite, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, already exists as a novel and a movie and is currently being adapted into a musical–starring the understudy for Ben Platt in Dear Evan Hansen (I took quite a winding road when I discovered that one night).

It’s just interesting to think about the way the artist intended to share their story. Take Shakespeare–all of his plays were meant to be performed live and watched by crowds of people who experienced the story together. Now his work has been adapted into movies and graphic novels and is most often read–even further, dissected–by high school- and college-aged kids across the country.

I like that, though–that variety. I do like consuming art the way it was intended, but I also like seeing the different elements that each medium can add to a story. Even listening to a book vs. reading it can evoke different emotions or mean more or less to different people. When a story is great, I’m always interested in seeing all the different ways it can be told–even if I end up liking one significantly more than the other, which is often the case. Warm Bodies is better as a book, Thirteen Reasons Why is better as a TV show (though still not a favorite), Newsies is better as a movie, and Hamilton works best as a musical–which might be most surprising (yet most agreed-upon) of all. But I’ll still test each one out so I can experience the story in new ways and come to my own conclusion, really finding out what resonates with me–and then I can talk to people who have very different opinions and learn even more.

I still need to read the books of movies I love like Catch Me If You Can and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. I still need to read Game of Thrones and Valerian before seeing them on screen. And maybe one day I’ll watch Shrek: The Musical on Netflix, since I love the movie so much. (I’ve heard the musical really isn’t that bad, but I want to come to my own conclusion.)

So I’m excited to see Ready Player One in theaters. I’m also excited for when Crazy Rich Asians comes out, and if they ever decide to turn The Night Circus into a movie or Netflix series, the first emotion I’ll feel will certainly be excitement as my mind reels with the possibilities.

But if they ever made Bojack Horseman–a show I love dearly–into a live-action film, I would want no part in it.

There’s a line, I think. And some things just wouldn’t work.

(But maybe I’m wrong.)

Sincerely,

Sammy