A couple of weeks ago, Vicky and I went to see The Nativity, and one of the pre-movie trailers was for Eragon. She leaned over and asked if we could take some of her friends to see the movie for her birthday instead of ice skating, and I happily told her I’d talk to her dad. (First, it keeps me away from ice, and second, I wanted to see the movie, too!) Since her birthday is Tuesday, we went to the movie yesterday.
For those not familiar with the story, it was written by a 15-year-old homeschooled boy who obviously read a lot. I would guess that his bookshelves were populated by Tolkien, Anne McCaffrey, David Eddings, and various Star Wars novels, and they probably still are. My initial reaction is that the movie rocked. I loved the effects and the music, I loved that the dragon wasn’t born all-knowing and wise. Like Eragon, she had a lot of adolescent fool in her. For the record, Christopher Paolini wrote dragon hatching in much the same way I do, which thrilled me. All of the characters had flaws, although the movie was only an hour and a half so there wasn’t time to really get to know any of them. There was a lot of stereotypical Middle Earth, some Star Wars moments, and the heroine looked like a human version of C’Nedra from the Belgariad; she was even a princess. I went into the theater with no expectations and came out thrilled. I’d consider seeing it again, I’d consider seeing sequels, and if future movies live up to the first, I’d consider buying a box set. I own worse movies than Eragon and still occasionally watch them.
Many reviewers hated this movie. It seems they all read the book. I haven’t read it yet, but I will. If the book is better than the movie (as is often the case) you can bet I’ll read it, if for no other reason than to see what I can glean from his style. People will say that Christopher Paolini is not original, that he took ideas from one place or another and mashed them together; that he only got published because his parents published it first and it was discovered by another publisher. I’m sure there are things he could have done better, but it was a fabulous story. He made his own world, his own characters, and his own story, which is more than a lot of adults will ever do. He also had the fortitude to put his work out there, for anyone to read and scoff at. That’s the really scary part for a lot of writers. We could learn something from teenage bravado. If you think your work isn’t strong enough to stand up to critics, it needs to be rewritten. As they said in the movie, one part brave and three parts fool.
Were there parts of the movie that didn’t strike me right? Sure; most movies do. They were more than balanced out by the dragon flights. I’ll look forward to adding Christopher Paolini to my reference shelf and, if applicable, admitting happily that I learned something from a teenager.