“I am a very old man; how old I do not know. Possibly I am a hundred, possibly more; but I cannot tell because I have never ages as other men, nor do I remember any childhood. So far as I can recollect I have always been a man, a man of about thirty.”
John Carter first made his appearance within a serialized version of A Princess of Mars in 1912, which makes him exactly one hundred this year as he makes his debut in the Disney film named for him.
A fan of the books, I admit to giving in to my curiosity. I’ve watched several trailers and a few TV commercials advertising this newly released movie. I also admit to being impressed with the vision of Barsoom (AKA Mars) and its CGI enhanced indigenous inhabitants that I’ve seen in those brief glimpses.
But that’s as far as I’ll go. I’m not watching the movie.
For one thing, I vividly remember my first meeting years ago with the John Carter found within the pages of A Princess of Mars. There he is described by his “nephew” Edgar Rice Burroughs as: “a splendid specimen of manhood, standing a good two inches over six feet, broad of shoulder and narrow of hip, with the carriage of a trained fighting man. His features were regular and clear cut, his hair black and closely cropped, while his eyes were of steel gray, reflecting a strong and loyal character, filled with fire and initiative. His manners were perfect, and his courtliness was that of a typical southern gentleman of the highest type.”
It is that combination of fierce warrior and chivalrous though awkward suitor, so typical of many of Burroughs heroes that attracted me to John Carter. That and the description of his arrival on Mars: “It was midday, the sun was shining full upon me and the heat of it was rather intense upon my naked body…” (hey, I am a romance writer!). I stayed for the sheer volume of gripping adventures that befell him on his beloved Barsoom.
And that’s really why I won’t see the film There are some books that capture the
imagination so intensely that anyone else’s translation of that vision just isn’t
going to do it justice. For better or worse, John Carter, and any of the planned
sequels, is now added to my Books I Will Not See As Movies list.