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They screwed up Robyn's character.

(Preliminary note: I did actually enjoy this movie. Quite a bit, in fact. Given that this is going to be a post almost entirely made up of complaint, I should probably start with that.)

The boyfriend and I went to see Tomorrow When The War Began: the film of the book.

The film of the book I love beyond reason, in fact.

(My "favourite" book is pretty much split between four categories. The book I admire most: Watership Down. The book I love the most: The Two Linties. The book I re-read the most: The ABC Murders. And the book I most wish I'd written: Tomorrow, When The War Began.)

Tomorrow, When The War Began is the quintessential Australian novel. It's about 8 rural Aussie teenagers, who go camping for a week, and come back to find that the country's at war.

It is not overly into heroics and explosions (although there are many heroics - and many explosions), but instead takes an honest look at what it is like to live in a country that's at war, what it's like to be a teenager, and what happens when those two things are combined.

It's also bloody brilliant.

I think one of the main reasons I'm so attached to it, though, is because it is, above all things, Australian. The characters may be farming kids who use chainsaws and herd cattle and so forth - while I'm... not any of those things; but they are also very much like me. Staggeringly so.

There aren't that many places I can encountered my own culture in fiction. Most of the characters I read about are British or American - and no matter how similar their lives get to mine, there's always something...

But Tomorrow, When The War Began is packed to the brim with the most truly Aussie characters I can imagine.

So - I'm particularly attached to this book because it has characters who are like me.

And Robyn? Robyn is really like me.

Strangely enough, I'm particularly attached to Robyn. Rather more than the others.

And they screwed up her character.

Robyn in the film is:
- a Christian
- a good girl
- a quiet, nice girl
- a very nice, but very ineffectual girl, who's... a good little Christian

Whereas Robyn in the book is:
- a Christian
- a very competitive netballer, who goes all-out to win a game
- a quiet girl... who is very uncompromising

There's a difference.

Or, to put it a bit more clearly...

Film!Robyn is alone in her house. She hears two people - possibly enemy soldiers - coming in.
So she picks up her dad's walking stick, and tries to sneak up on them (walking stick in hand).
And they have a gun!
But thankfully, Ellie and Homer (who are sneaking into Robyn's house with a gun) realise that this person they're about to shoot is actually Robyn! So they don't shoot her, and Ellie yells out "Robyn!" in relief.
And Robyn turns, sees them, and faints.


Book!Robyn is alone in her house. She hears two people - possibly enemy soldiers - coming in.
So she picks up her dad's shotgun, and walks cautiously into her living room.
There's two people hiding in there! Ack!
But thankfully, just before she starts aiming and firing, one of the hiding people (Ellie) realises that it's actually Robyn! And she yells out "Robyn!" in desperation.
And Robyn realises it's Ellie and Homer. And faints.

Big difference.

Film!Robyn sees Lee get shot in the leg, picks him up and carries him into the back room, and then runs off to find Ellie and Homer so they can figure out what to do.

Book!Robyn sees Lee get shot in the leg, picks him up and carries him into the back room, and then runs off to fetch medical help.

Film!Robyn comes back to find the town dentist taking care of Lee.

Book!Robyn fetches the dentist, bullies him into taking care of Lee, and stands over him until he's done.

Film!Lee gets his bandages changed by Ellie, because Robyn faints at the sight of blood.

Book!Lee gets his bandages changed by Robyn, even though she faints at the sight of blood. Because, after all, she's gotta do what she's gotta do. She's also received detailed instructions from the dentist about removing Lee's stitches - and is rather looking forward to it...

Film!Robyn gets very upset about the idea of guerilla warfare, and starts saying "But... thou shalt not kill! It's in the Bible, and everything!" and many emotional-sounding things of that variety. Then she gets talked into it by the others and says "Okay, fine, I'll help. But I won't murder people."

Whereas Book!Robyn says:
"I'm still not sure what's right or wrong in this whole setup. But I don't think I could sit around here for months, not doing anything. It's just an emotional thing - I couldn't do it. We've got to get out and have a go at something. On the other hand I don't want us to go around killing a lot of people. I've read those Vietnam books like Fallen Angels, where the woman hid a mine in her own kid's clothes and gave it to a soldier to hold, then blew them both up. I still have nightmares about that. I'm already having nightmares about those people we ran down in the truck. But I guess my nightmares are small suffering compared to what some people have had. My nightmares are just the price I have to pay. I know that."

They screwed up Robyn's character. Completely.

They also changed a whole lot of other things, like Ellie running over the people with the truck, and Kevin running away, and Chris being a crazy stoner rather than a goth stoner, and the bridge plan going wrong, and Corrie getting shot at the wrong time, and what was happening at the Showgrounds, and who was reading the book for school, and how many dogs died, and Ellie being too thin, and a million other petty little differences that probably don't matter, and did I mention that I enjoyed this movie? Because I actually did. A lot.

I just... need to complain for a while. Because they screwed up Robyn's character. And I really wish they hadn't.

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth. Feel free to comment there using OpenID. (comment count unavailable comments so far)

Date: 2010-09-28 12:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I didn't read this whole entry because I haven't read the book and I don't want to get spoiled. But I did read the beginning, enough to immediately open up my library's website and place a hold on the book! I can't wait to read it and of course I will report back to you. It definitely sounds like my kind of book.

Date: 2010-09-28 06:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm always wary of seeing movie versions of books. One of my favorite books EVER was turned into a movie so wrong I wanted to smash things in anger. Nothing like tacking an ending on that is the OPPOSITE to what happened in the book.

Date: 2010-09-28 10:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
What was the book?

Date: 2010-09-29 12:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Blood and Chocolate"

Date: 2010-09-29 02:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
ZOMG!!! Thank you so much for this review.

I totally reread the first book in a frenzy to prepare for the movie, only to find out on Sept. 2nd that the release date was for Australia/NZ only and they haven't even picked a U.S. release date yet. :(

Good to know that it was mostly enjoyable, despite the unfortunate changes.

I always identified most with Ellie, just in terms of how she's fairly easy going, the way she deals with her attractions to Homer and Lee, and how she deeply values her friends and is really considerate to them, except for when she's so overcome with emotion/frustration that she's really not. :)

I only wish I could write as well as she can.
Edited Date: 2010-09-29 02:53 am (UTC)


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