Monday, 4 January 2021

Brave New World (TV series review)

 This weekend I re-read "Brave New World" for the second or third time. I had recently watched the TV adaptation and I wanted to see how they compared. I first read the book as a schoolchild and saw it as a science fictions story full off incredible inventions and a different way of life. I read it later as a kind of companion to "1984" - here's one dystopian vision of the future, here's another. This time I think the book is about society, firstly how to control or engineer it, and more importantly about being excluded from it.

I seldom complain that an author expects too much of his reader, but in this case I felt a bit out of my depth. John the savage was taught to read, but the only things he had to read were what his mother could write, her employee handbook, and the complete works of Shakespear. His dialogue borrows heavily from Shakespear quotations, but as I don't know most of them I felt I was missing out. The four words "told by an idiot" did tip me off that he was quoting, but it also made me realise how few of the quotations I was probably spotting.

The TV adaptation did a fantastic job of bringing the world to life. Lenina, the fertilizing room, New London, ubiquitous helicopter travel, everything was better visualised than in my own mind. They made some changes to the world, but I didn’t mind them. The savages were white-trash Americans rather than American Indians. The world controller was a woman. A load of racial stuff had been removed.

Unfortunately the story had been butchered. They had added a load of unnecessary action and adventure to rescuing John the savage from the reservation. They had overcomplicated the riot. Instead of the rather dry discussion about keeping society in order, failed self rule, and sending free-thinkers to islands, they have added a load of pointless and confusing artificial intelligence and simulation theory elements.

My view is that the series was ruined, but that if it was about half as long and had just followed the source material it would have been a masterpiece.

Richard "The anime got ahead of the manga" B


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