Wednesday, 6 June 2012
Remembering Ray Bradbury ~ 'Someone, Not So Wicked, That Way, Just Went...' RAY BRADBURY 1920~2012
Ray Bradbury wrote the screenplay (based on his novel) for the 1983 Disney film 'Something Wicked This Way Comes', as well as a couple of episodes of the 1980 TV adaptation of his classic collection of stories; 'The Martian Chronicles'.
Something Wicked was intensely creepy and effortlessly languid, beautifully shot and surreally scary. It captured childhood, innocence, danger and evil of grown-...ups with ease, and for a Walt Disney film, scared the life out of kids the world over. It wasn't as scary as the book, but it was a movie that could create dreams in children of things that weren't safe and happy; Mr Dark (Jonathan Pryce) and the Dust Witch (Pam Grier) sent me to bed with lifelong nightmares.
Bradbury was said to never have warmed to the TV adaptation of The Martian Chronicles, but like the first screening of TV sci-fi series 'V', this Rock Hudson-led space drama, shown on the BBC so many years ago, remains etched in my head forever and was - I think, true 'Event Television'. I'll never forget the meeting of Martians on the Red Planet with the human colonists; the sequence where travellers explore vast empty, lonely Martian landscapes and walk across abandoned ancient ruins is, to me, what great sci-fi is all about. Roddy McDowell's Father Stone is one of my favourite TV characters ever. But seeing as Roddy is responsible for at least two other favourite film or TV characters ever (Dr Jonathan Willoway from 1977's The Fantastic Journey and of course, a certain chimp we all know and love) that's to be expected. What I remember most from The Martian Chronicles is mystery, exploration, and the wonders of the unexplained; it's what space adventure is all about, whether real life or fictional.
Bradbury penned many other film classics, from The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953, from the story 'The Fog Horn') to the still important Fahrenheit 451 (1966). I love the film and TV adaptations of all Ray Bradbury's stories, but equally love reading his warm-hearted works of fantastic fiction. Bradbury's tall tales had heart and love; warmth and mystery - they were full of imagination and packed with characters you couldn't help but care for. Few writers of fantasy, Stephen King is one, can write with such obvious love for the characters they create - can write stories more like the kind of tales that get told around the campfire in the dark woods with a kettle of coffee on the boil, or with a group of children toasting marshmallows while scaring themselves to death. I for one, thanks to Bradbury, have a certain fear of fairgrounds, and a certain wish to be a spaceman. Still.
Ray Bradbury left planet Earth - and us - on the 6th of June, 2012.