A story from nearly a century ago has been brought back to life in Walt Disney Pictures’ new film John Carter.
The movie is a big-screen adaptation of the 1917 science fiction novel, A Princess of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
The story tells the tale of John Carter, a Civil War veteran who seeks fortune. In finding a cave rich with gold, he kills a man holding a device, which Carter takes, and is then transported to the planet of Mars, to which it’s inhabitants call “Barsoom.” The rest of the narrative tracks John Carter’s encounters with the dwellers of the planet and his intentions to return to Earth.
A very unique challenge in this kind of transformation from novel to blockbuster film is being able to visually create the world of Barsoom true to its original idea after 100 years of readers visualizing their own. A challenge was presented in utilizing the technological advances of today to combine a live-action medium with an animated one.
That’s where director Andrew Stanton comes in, whose other notable works include directing Walt Disney Pictures’ and Pixar Animation’s Finding Nemo and Wall-E, as well as acting as executive producer, screenwriter and doing some voice work in most other Disney and Pixar films, such as the Toy Story trilogy and Monsters, Inc.
Having great knowledge of the technological strategies used to create a stunning film, Stanton paid his respects to his time he has spent at Pixar.
“My experience at Pixar was tremendously helpful,” said Stanton. “I don’t think I could have (made John Carter) had I not.”
With having the history at Pixar, throwing in live-action shooting for John Carter was not that big of a change from strictly animation for the director. Some see it as two separate worlds, but Stanton said otherwise.
“It’s actually not that different. People think that when (I) work on an animated film, that it’s as if I’m talking to a bunch of computers my whole life,” Stanton said. “It’s very similar actually in live action. It’s just that you’re doing it outside instead of inside.”
As compared to other films based on novels, such as the Harry Potter series, the Lord of the Rings trilogy or the currently popular Hunger Games set, John Carter doesn’t have the wide fan base strictly from the books, Stanton said.
“The harsh truth of it is that not that many people know about (A Princess of Mars.) It’s not like Harry Potter or Tolkien,” he said. “It’s slowly been a dwindling base, and so I knew there wasn’t this massive social pressure about how it was executed. But I didn’t really worry about that so much.”
So with nearly full creative control, Stanton and the team went to work, including the film’s male lead Taylor Kitsch, who plays John Carter himself. And as the same with Stanton, Kitsch was not as worried with the idea that this character had been around for 100 years.
Kyrstin Ohta, a CSUF music education major thinks that Kitsch pulled off the role well.
“I saw Taylor Kitsch in John Tucker Must Die, and he was in a supporting role then, so it was really cool to see how he can act as a lead and (as the) the main role in a film. I was very impressed and I think he did really well and was put into an extremely intriguing role,” she said.
“You know, I think the most pressure I’ve truly had was probably playing a guy that’s lived and has passed on in Kevin Carter (his character in the 2010 film The Bang-Bang Club). I’m not going to prep more (for this role) because it’s, you know, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ vision or anything like that,” said Kitsch.
The lack of nerves aside, Kitsch said that being a part of something that is considered by some to be a classic is still an honor.
“It’s very flattering to be a part of it. And I think that scope of it all is quite cool to be a part of it as well. I think to breathe life into his (Stanton’s) childhood dream … that’s a pretty amazing thing to do and be a part of,” Kitsch said.
With a both dedicated and determined director, as well as a lead, the film is sure to bring the world of Barsoom to life.
John Carter is now open in theaters everywhere in both 2D and 3D.