The Dark is Stinking. Possibly.

Me Not Happy. Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising sequence was one of my best reading experiences as a child. Great story, tinged with loss and an unsettling sense of another world impinging on this one. The prospect of a big budget movie based on the same was a pleasing one. Now the trailer’s out, and I am no longer pleased.

I know a brief trailer is not really a safe basis on which to start judging a whole film, but what the hell: they’re trampling all over the garden of my childhood here, so I’m going to do it anyway.

So let’s see. They’ve taken stories that were wholly and crucially concerned with the landscape, myths and folktales of Britain … and set the thing in the US. The books depend for much of their cumulative atmospheric power on those intimate connections with a specific land and culture, but hey, it’s the box office that counts. And apparently the ancient, insidious and often rather subtle magic that runs through the books appears to have been at least partially replaced with the kind of magic that turns your young hero into some kind of telekinetic, pyrokinetic, super-strength X-men reject.

Until someone tells me otherwise I’m going to jump to (and stick to) the conclusion that what they’ve done here is unceremoniously hollow out one of the central works in the last 50 years of British children’s fantasy writing, stuff it with the entangled entrails of Night Watch, Tomb Raider and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and clumsily stitch the wound up again. All the while assuming that if they can get enough of the Eragon/Narnia crowd in through the cinema doors, no one will notice or care that they have discarded everything that made the original distinctive and potent. Bah humbug.

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