Posted by Tom Kilbane on November 12, 1997 at 20:42:13:
In Reply to: Captivity Narratives posted by Victoria on November 12, 1997 at 15:52:14:
I enjoyed your post very much. The stories of Indian captivities during the colonial period is one of my favorite subjects. While I read your post I could not help wondering if you have ever read Conrad Richter's wonderful novel "The Light in the Forest." Its a historical fiction novel about one of the reluctant captives Col. Boquet returned with from his 1764 expedition into the Ohio wilderness. Its been my favorite book since I was a boy; I still read it at least once a year. It deals with much of what you wrote about. For those of you not familar with this book its the story of a Pennsylvannia boy captured at age four by Deleware Indians and adopted into the tribe. Eleven years later he is forced to return to his real family by order of Col. Boquet. The rest of the story deals with True Son's difficulties being torn from the only family and life he remembers and being placed in the completely alien environment of his white family's farm. A truly moving and beautiful story.
I am going to get off the subject now and discuss what Francois was writng about-- his disappointment that LOTM does not resemble the novel it is named after. I experienced the same feeling with "The Light in the Forest." I had read it at least a half dozen times before I became aware that there was a film version of the book. I then waited several more years until at long last it came on cable TV. What a total disappointment the film version was! I knew I was in trouble when during the opening credits some cheesy choir starts droning a song entitled "The Light in the Forest." It got even worse: the star of the film was James McArthur, better known as "Dano" of Hawia 5-O, he bore no resemblance, at least to me, to the novel's main character, True Son. Also the story of a "white boy raised by Indians torn by the claims of loyalty and blood" was completely gutted. Anything with an edge or dealing with the racial conflicts between redmen and white was removed. In their place was a blooming teen romance between the protaganist and an indentured servant girl, who in the novel has one sentence, but in the movie is a major character! Also the biggest sin of the film was that it took a typical conscending, almost racist, attitude towards the Indians which was exactly what the novel intended to show was wrong! Overall the movie was a complete butchery of the novel.
I guess I should not have been too surprised afterall it was a Disney movie and made in the 1950's. But what I am trying to say here is that I understand how Francois feels when a novel you love disappears in its translations into film. Maybe if I hadn't read "The Light in the Forest" so many times before I saw the movie my feelings might have been different. I might have enjoyed it as a nice piece of Disney escapism like "The Parent Trap" or "Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier." But I had read novel and I had definite views on what certain characters looked like and how the story should be told. Therefore I spent my time watching the film stupedified by what I was witnessing and waiting for Jack Lord to show up and say, "Book'em, Dano."
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