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QUESTION:

Are you worried at all that the movie Ender's Game may not be as powerful and brilliant as the novel? The book is amazing to read and for example, while the beatings of Stilson and Bonzo are very violent and obviously wouldn't be very pleasant to watch, they are necessary events for the development of Ender's character. What if the omission of some things like this takes away from the brilliance of the story.

-- Submitted by Emily Jones

OSC REPLIES: - April 5, 2000

Things that work in a book often don't work at all in a film, and vice versa. For instance, the beatings of Stilson and Bonzo are very problematical, because the viewer of a film can't get inside the mind of Ender Wiggin to see what he's thinking, why he does the things he does. All he sees is the terrifying exterior -- a kid who kills. That's why the Stilson episode is cut entirely from my script of the movie, replaced by a much milder episode between Ender and Peter. The film version retains the main focus of the story; if the Stilson episode had remained, it would have overshadowed everything that followed it and distorted the story badly. As for the incident with Bonzo, it is still in the script, but very carefully handled so that neither the nudity nor the violence are carried to a level that would affect the rating of the film. The story is still strong and emotionally powerful, but there is no reason or need to shock or offend -- indeed, it is extremely rare that causing shock or offense in a work of art serves any purpose other than to stroke the vanity of the artist and provide him with a ready-made excuse for why the audience rejects his work ("It's because they can't stomach the truth, not because I have no talent"). So things that I regard as acceptable in fiction, but which, when put on the screen, would be unacceptable, simply won't remain in the story. The heart of Ender's Game lies elsewhere, not in the violence itself. The violence was merely a tool to lead audiences through the story, and when the tool is no longer appropriate, it is, quite properly, discarded.

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