There might be a few folks out there asking the question: Is Disney actually going to get the Prydain Chronicles films right this time?
I know some of you—probably those who love the books and were perhaps disappointed by the animated film treatment, The Black Cauldron—may have read Disney’s announcement regarding the new Prydain films with a vague sense of dread. Maybe you even thought, “Uh oh. Not again. I don’t know if I can bear to watch them foul it up a second time.”
To be fair to the animated film, a lot of people liked it. A lot of people still like it. I can almost hear you saying, “Yes, but those people probably never read Lloyd Alexander’s books, so they have no idea what they’re missing. They don’t know the cinematic potential of the story.”
If this sounds like you, you are not alone. But just imagine how amazed people will be if (and when) they finally get to see a new series of live-action Prydain films made in a way that is faithful and true to what makes the source material so delightful. Does the risk of these films falling short of their potential outweigh the potential benefits of seeing them done right? I don’t think so. That’s why I am fully in favor of this undertaking. Personally, I have plenty of reasons to be very confident in Disney’s ability to make these films in a grand, epic, heart-felt way. And I think you should too.
To name just a few reasons, first of all, it’s been more than thirty years since The Black Cauldron animated film debuted. That was 1985, the same year Back to the Future came out. And The Breakfast Club, The Goonies, Weird Science, and Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. Almost none of the same people who were there at that time, who made the decisions that were made, even work for Disney anymore. Most of them have retired or moved on to different career paths. For all intents and purposes it’s ‘a whole new world’ at Disney. And I don’t think it’s really fair to judge a person by something they did thirty years ago, much less judge an organization by that standard.
For those who are still reluctant to give Disney the benefit of the doubt, please understand that thanks to the Internet and social media, you might actually have some influence on whether or not these films end up getting made. Think about it: if we act disinterested in the project, or pre-judge it as destined for failure, what would be the most likely thing that would happen? Disney producers would survey the fans’ reaction on the web and determine that the people saying “meh” outnumber the ones going “YEAH!” They would conclude that people don’t really care about seeing the world of Prydain in films, and without an eager audience they won’t risk the time and money it would take to actually do justice to these stories. The doubt and apathy of naysayers would then become a self-fulfilling prophecy: either the films wouldn’t happen at all, or they would simply be deferred for who knows how many more years while Disney patiently waits for a more receptive, enthusiastic audience to emerge.
In my view the only reasonable choice for those of us who love the Chronicles of Prydain is to come out in force, in full support of Disney’s announcement. Have some confidence in the studio that gave us Pirates of the Caribbean, Maleficent, and the new Cinderella—not to mention Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Zootopia, Frozen, and Tangled. Start doing the things I recommended out in my last post, “New Prydain artwork! And some thoughts on creating a movement.” Let the Internet hear our “collective roar” of eager anticipation for each new revelation regarding the project. Let Disney know why it’s so important to you that the team assembled to develop these films be made up of creative professionals who are not only gifted in their disciplines, but who know the source material well and are emotionally invested in seeing it be as true and faithful to Alexander’s vision as possible within the medium of cinema.
~ J. Kunz