Monday, 18 August 2014

A Tale of Two Outlanders*
My friend has been excited over the television adaptation of Outlander for what seems to be forever. It came up in conversation, her Twitter feed was swamped with mentions, she was trying to speak Gaelic from the Starz videos, and I learnt that she’d named her dog after a minor character in a later book. She's WAY into it. When it was announced that this well-known romantic, time traveling tale was being re-imagined, I failed to understand the reference. I had never heard of the series. Not once. And I read considerable quantities of historic romance. I seem to have fallen in the Outlander void.

Now my friend, Danielle, has been asking me to read it. I considered it. And then I discovered it was eight hundred pages long and really who has time to read a book that is that long? Seriously, that’s 3-4 YA books, or a really, really long saga that I actually want to read. But for an obligation read….no.

And then I folded like a cheap suit.

You’ll notice she favourited it. I believe she’s collecting evidence so that when I fall in love with the series she can hold it before me and yell ‘told you so’. I am not entirely sure this is going to happen. Danielle is very sure.

I had used the ‘I’ll watch it and see if I understand it without the book’ line but I still bought the book. But I am curious to see how much of the written story translates to the adaptation so I am hedging my bets. I am going to watch an episode and then read the corresponding text. As a bibliophile I am going to have to fight the urge to experience the text before the celluloid but it will be a helpful distinction.

I’ve watched many adaptations from the side of well-read fan. In the case of Harry Potter series, the Hunger Games series, The Perks of Being A Wallflower etc I have been the informed one. I would like to be on the other side for once. How much clarity is attempted by filmmakers when re-making a familiar and much loved tale?

Right now I am two episodes into the first season. I know and recognise a handful (minus a finger or two) of characters. I can’t understand most of the dialogue but I realise this is a deliberate act to put the audience firmly in Claire’s shoes. I cannot differentiate any Scot who isn’t a rapist, a redhead or in possession of bendy legs. I am also inordinately pleased Claire is in the past as Frank was a bore and I was rather sick of the actress’ smarty-pants-hand-on-hip line readings. And Jamie is a bit of alright.

So while I am not a manic convert, I am enjoying the story so far. But the voiceovers don’t work and I desperately want to wash the actors’ faces so I can tell them apart. As for the romance between Claire and Jamie…I don’t see it yet. But I do see friendship and that’s rather nice.

*Danielle told me to call it that.


Liviania said...

I'll admit to being someone who checked out the TV show for curiosity, but found the books irredeemably boring. (I slogged through the first two so that I had something to talk to my grandma about.)

Danielle said...

I will be vindicated. VIN-DI-CATED.

Mary said...

I read the first three - devoured would probably be a more apt description - but then they began to disappoint. It was as if Diana Gabaldon had to make her characters at the centre of every major event in US history. I've now watched 8 episodes and find the story unfolding VERY slowly.