January 09, 2005

Deeply unfortunate.

I spent about half of this weekend in Santa Cruz with my sinister. It's a two-hour trip on Greyhound, which was itself surprisingly enjoyable because a bus full of people being quietly bored turns out to be a perfect place to spend two rainy, foggy hours with a book. This is not, therefore, the part of the story that's unfortunate. Neither is my realization that I really like pubs, of which a sparkling example is the Poet & Patriot in Santa Cruz. Katie and I wandered in and nursed drinks and played cards and didn't have to deal with anyone acting like a stupid dick, despite the fact that it was late late late Saturday night and we were playing with cards with semi-naked women on them. This, as you may have gathered, is also not unfortunate (although the fact that I don't have a deck of cards like that myself is slightly unfortunate).

What was unfortunate, in fact, was the series of events which we witnessed earlier Saturday night. We were told that these events would be deeply, direly traumatic and hopeless for those involved. This was true. We had been led to believe that the entire experience would be one of vaguely Victorian oppressiveness and morbidity. It was, in fact, just that. We understood that these events would not occur through accident but through the deliberate malice of truly despicable people. As it happened, that was precisely how they occurred. We were also made to understand that, despite all narrative customs that demand otherwise, these unfortunate happenings would not end with daring narrow escapes by plucky and clever protagonists who would then go on to live happily ever after; they would end with more unfortunate events drawn from a depressingly inexhaustible supply of misery and mishap.

That one was apparently a sticking point for somebody. These are children's stories, they reasoned, and children's stories are supposed to end on positive, message-reinforcing notes. The plucky heroes solve one problem and everything else falls into line, because it's best for kids to believe that that's how things work (and everyone else, for that matter, once Hollywood gets involved).

I hypothesize that the creators of the movie did this: put the person of Lemony Snicket into a wrestling cage with an appointed representative of the children's-movie-making establishment. He was hired muscle, probably, told not to be too hard on the author because we need another three books out of him to finish the series. The referee called fifteen rounds, and whoever won each round got to set the tone for the next five minutes of film. Dreary? Inspiring? Sappy? Abysmal? Loathsome? Sweet? Snicket won most of the rounds, but man, when the Hollywood goon stopped pulling punches he really beat the poor bastard into the floor. Shame about those bits.

Posted by dianna at January 9, 2005 05:46 PM

it occurred to me the next day that maybe we'd underestimated the sheer evil deviousness of the film adaptation. it did depict a series of unfortunate events, the last and most unfortunate of which was that they fucked up the ending. er.

and in my book, orphans not thoroughly getting what-for is an unfortunate event indeed (cf. my loathing of one Mr Dickens on this account).

at least we had a time of it in my cute little burg, no?

Posted by: katie at January 14, 2005 04:18 PM