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Brandon Sanderson discusses changes to the WoT TV show

Jason Denzel
  • Brandon Sanderson shared some of his thoughts on the necessary changes to the Wheel of Time TV show.

Brandon Sanderson responded to some fans' concerns on reddit about the adaptation to the Wheel of Time TV show. Although the majority of fan reactions over the past week to the big casting announcement have been positive, some people have had concerns with the actors not looking like how they would expect. Brandon addressed these concerns by saying:




That's a legit gripe. I don't blame anyone if they don't like this decision for book/film continuity reasons--just as I would have trouble blaming anyone for disliking a casting like Jackman as Wolverine, because he's so different from the source material. Most of us loved him, but it's okay for someone to dislike the choice.


The WoT casting looks good to me. It's more than it doesn't bother me; it's more that I actively like how these people look as the characters. Granted, I have information others don't have. I've read Rafe's scripts, I've read his treatments, and I get what he's doing with the series--and in almost every case, I like the choices he's made.


Deciding to do the Two Rivers with a variety of skin tones but a unified cultural identity is cool to me because I think it expresses some of the broad themes of the Wheel of Time. Themes that might be difficult to get across otherwise without the text, the internal monologues, etc.


To me, this is like putting the Harry Potter kids in street clothes in the third of those films, or making Frodo push Sam away in the LotR films--both are pretty big deviations from the letter of the story, but both (I think) achieve something in setting the tone the right way for a film.


That said, I can see this being something you dislike. For what it's worth--from my experience, this isn't Rafe pandering. It might well be Rafe expressing his own ideologies in the story. It's okay to dislike those choices, but I do think that it would be a mistake to not want a showrunner who tries to make their own version of the story. (Like Jackson did with the LotR films.)


This is one of the things I've had to become comfortable with in watching my own book-to-film adaptations progress. You won't get something great without letting a new vision change the story. Even Marvel, in charge of its own properties, heavily adapted characters, looks, and stories to fit the new medium of film.


If the chosen actors had looked completely wrong...well, I'd still probably have waited to see them act in the roles. (That will be the big deciding factor.) But the fact that they look so right feels like confirmation to me that so far, Rafe is steering the ship well.


He continued with:



Everything I've seen from Rafe in my interactions with him (including the sessions where I gave feedback on the scripts) made me confident he had nothing but respect for the source material.

That said, this IS looking more of an adaptation than a straight filming of the source material. This will be different from the books. It reminds me more of the Lord of the Rings adaptations than, say, the early Harry Potter adaptations.



Again, there is a legitimate gripe here- [...] Writing is art, and it's legitimate to simply not like artistic decisions. It's doubly legitimate to dislike where an adaptation is taking the work. But I have two responses here.

First is this: You're never going to get a good director who doesn't put their own spin on the source material. It's because they know you simply cannot adapt most written media into film without changing things dramatically. When people try to adapt line by line, but not try to capture the soul of the piece (as seen through their on eyes, and their own experience) you end up with something sterile at best, a disaster at worst.

What is the single greatest (by general agreement of audiences and critics) Stephen King Adaptation? It's the one that deviates the furthest. Even the new IT takes huge liberties.

The early Harry Potter adaptations are attempts to line-by-line try to adapt the books. They are mediocre films in the eyes of most critics and audiences. There is a reason why the third film, which deviates greatly, is the one that FEELS more Harry Potter to a lot of people. (Granted, not all of them.) It's because the project had someone who adapted the material and added their artistic vision to that of the book. (Which was, admittedly, the strongest of the books also.)

You have Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time. He wrote it in the medium he wanted, and it will never change. You are never, in film, going to get anything but the director's Wheel of Time. This is something I've had to realize the more I've become involved in Hollywood.

A great case study is the Princess Bride. One of the rare examples where the same person wrote the book and the screenplay--someone who was good at both. And the film deviates in huge ways from the book, along the lines that the screenwriter wanted. Because he knew that film is a different medium, with different needs and different audience expectations.

If you don't want Rafe's Wheel of Time, that's completely legitimate. But you're not going to get a director who could explore Robert Jordan's themes in his way. Ever. You're going to get a director who explores Robert Jordan's themes in the director's way.

My argument about your paragraph about people coming to the Two Rivers...well, I just disagree. (That's okay--it's art, and it's good to disagree sometimes.) I think that people with new ways of thinking, new dress, new ways of doing things is WAY more thematically alien in a story like this than people who look different.

When the Two Rivers folk are traveling with the Aiel, how often do they note how different everyone looks? (Rarely.) How often do they note differences in culture? (Basically every other page.)

This fits the Wheel of Time just fine to me.


Filming of the WoT TV show will begin in September. Although we don't know the exact start date or production schedule, we know that the announced actors are either currently in Prague or on their way there to begin. No release date for the show has been announced, but the production schedule is expected to be unusually long because of the complicated material, diverse locations, and large number of visual effects. 

Edited by Jason Denzel

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Posted (edited)

On 10/5/2020 at 6:36 AM, Sawyer said:

Sanderson is a gentleman and a respected writer, and he is correct - art is subjective and all opinions are legitimate.


I will not watch Rafe Jadkin's show for one simple reason: I do not believe Jadkin cares about preserving Robert Jordan's vision.


By contrast, David Benioff and Dan Weiss were supper fans of "The Game of Thrones" and made every human effort to preserve George R.R. Martin's vision. Period. Some may argue the conclusion, but no one can argue Benioff and Weiss did not make every effort to keep Martin's visions whole.



Until you have watched this video, you don't even have the slightest clue as to what Robert Jordan's vision was in so far as the appearance of the Emond's Fielders (Rand aside). Furthermore, Rafe Judkins has the explicit support of Robert Jordan's widow/editor, the person who knows more about what that vision was than anyone alive. The only person who knew more about what Jordan's vision was, was James Rigney himself. And guess what, Rafe has actually met with and talked to Harriet, something I suspect you have not done.


And here's that video I mentioned. In this video they go over not just the textual evidence from the books showing how the casting actually does line up with the books, but also goes over a number of excerpts from Jordan's notes that back that up as well. I challenge you to watch that and then come back and say again how these casting choices don't match up with Jordan's vision, how Rafe isn't matching up with Jordan's vision. Or is it just your own personal biases that Rafe isn't matching up with?



Edited by imlad

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