Fuse #8

Thursday, April 12, 2007


I walked into work Monday morning and my boss asks if I saw the Masterpiece Theater production of Wind in the Willows. I had not. I had forgotten it. Oh, Entertainment Weekly. Why have you forsaken me?

Yes, I missed a Wind in the Willows production that featured Bob Hoskins as Badger. Reason alone for self-flagellation or something less dire? Well fortunately for the world at large, Educating Alice is reexamining not only this newest adaptation but also the book itself. I'd somehow never sensed the parallels between the characters mucking about and the British schoolboy tradition so acutely ingrained in the literature. Monica asks, justifiably, whether or not the book is even applicable today. Having grown up at the teat of the Michael Hague version (framed prints remain on the walls of my childhood home, I'll have you know) I've great affection for the text. The bizarre appearance of Pan mid-novel? Just makes the book all the sweeter to me. Plus you can shove the Hague version in the face of Percy Jackson fans and yell, "LOOK! PAN!," and watch them coo. Just don't follow that up with Jitterbug Perfume until they're at least 14.

Tangent. Returning.

If you don't care for random appearances of pagan gods, try the Inga Moore adaptation on for size. Yes, she abridged the text, but maybe in this day and age that's what the book requires. Besides, how can you turn down a cover image like this?

I encourage you to seek out Monica's thoughts on the program, if only to lend your own dulcet tones to her call for opinions on a variety of WITW related-subjects.

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At 1:02 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Michael Hague edition?!

With all due respect, Fuse, three little words:

Ernest Howard Shepard!

At 1:07 AM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

I never said my 5-year-old self had taste. I grew up during the Hagueification of all the classics. Wizard of Oz. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Honestly, you couldn't buy a classic without running into that guy.

That said, we of course had the Shepard in the house as well. My mom enjoyed showing me the little pen-and-ink of Mole leaping joyfully into the sky post-Spring cleaning.

You see? The book sticks with you. I will note that of Hague's work, his "Wind in the Willows" is his best. Very Rackham.

At 5:39 AM , Blogger Monica Edinger said...

How about just...Rackham?

By the way, for those who want more (being a purist I haven't read them) there are the William Horwood "sequels": The Willows in Winter, Toad Triumphant, and The Willows and Beyond.

At 11:11 AM , Blogger Adam Rex said...

Not to be a pain, but badger was actually played by Bob Hoskins. And the whole production was really nice. Toad was hysterical.
So does the world need another adaptation of WITW? Maybe a graphic novel?

At 11:38 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

There actually _is_ a graphic novel (or rather, four in a series) of WITW, done by Michel Plessix. They're really quite good and go out like mad at my library.


At 11:58 AM , Blogger Adam Rex said...

Whoops. Well, there goes that idea.

At 11:58 AM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

Hoskins, check. Good casting, that.

At 12:02 PM , Blogger Adam Rex said...

Wow, I just checked out the Plessix adaptation online. It's really lovely.

At 12:19 PM , Blogger Saints and Spinners said...

I think Rackham was originally approached to do Wind in the Willows, and he said no. Then Shepherd did the illustrations, the book became popular, and Rackham was interested. But hah! The Shepherd illustrations are definitive.

I think of The Wind in the Willows as not so much a book for children but as a book that children can enjoy in the proper context. My mom says there are two camps: The Alice in Wonderland fans (logic) and Wind in the Willows (emotion). Which one you enjoy more depends upon where you are at a particular point in your life.

At 6:31 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tellingly, Rat and Toad were played by cross-dressing comedians from two of the edgiest TV shows ever aired in the UK: The League of Gentlemen and Little Britain. The signature character of the guy who played Toad is The Only Gay In The Village, a portly yellow-spandex catsuit-wearing fellow who is outraged by the constant imaginary homophobia he perceives around him.

Hilarious, both of them. But I wouldn't let my kid see either of those shows ever, EVER, ever, ever, ever, EVER, ever, EVER, ever, ever, ever, ever, Ever, ever, ever, ever, ever.... (an inside joke for those who did catch WITW)


At 11:31 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Plessix adaptations really are beautiful--those were the first items on my list when the I finally brow-beat the library into letting me buy graphic novels. (This is not to say that they are a substitute for the original, but still--everyone go and check them out!)


At 1:29 PM , Blogger Monica Edinger said...

"My mom says there are two camps: The Alice in Wonderland fans (logic) and Wind in the Willows (emotion). Which one you enjoy more depends upon where you are at a particular point in your life." Alkelda, since I still adore both (although my fav is still Alice) I'm not sure where I am in my life!

At 11:41 PM , Blogger Sonja Cole said...

I did not love the PBS movie as much as I hoped I would - for me it was more reminiscent of La Cage aux Folles than of our beloved book.
Thanks, Monica for reminding me of the Horwood sequels - I loved them years ago.


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