At the end of my previous post about Rick Riordan’s novel The Lightning Thief, I wrote:
I’m hoping that my students see me more as Percy’s Latin teacher, Mr. Brunner (a.k.a. Chiron, the centaur who trained Hercules) than as temporary pre-Algebra teacher, Mrs. Dodd (who turns out to be a Fury).
I finished the novel before going with my family to see the movie today. What I liked best about the novel was the wry way in which Rick Riordan inserted Greek gods, heroes, and monsters into a twenty-first century setting. Procrustes as a waterbed salesman! Charon as a record executive! The entrance to the underworld is in Los Angeles! (On that subject, see my post over at PWHNY).
The film changes a lot of things, and I don’t mind most of them. The wryness is missing, but that’s the kind of thing that a novel can convey easily and a film has to work hard to get across. This film isn’t up to that task , but that’s okay. The kids are older, but I think that’s okay too. The plot is simplified and less episodic, but that doesn’t bother me either. I’m less crazy about Poseidon’s speaking to Percy via telepathy at various points in the film. I wouldn’t have changed the identity of the ultimate villain, but I have a feeling that if there’s a sequel (and one has been announced though the sub-$40 million opening weekend may jeopardize that), that villain can be retrospectively injected into the story.
So here’s what bugs me. Why, oh why, did they have to change the Fury in the opening sequence from a pre-Algebra teacher to an English teacher? Oh sure, it makes it’s an economical way for the film to establish Percy’s supposed dyslexia. But why not make Mrs. Dodds a history teacher or a Latin teacher? They deal with text too!
Hrmph! We English teachers get no respect.
I’m hoping, by the way, that there’s some clever subtext at work in the fact that Percy is asked by Mrs. Dodds to explicate a line from Othello. Unfortunately, I wasn’t clever enough to note down which line it was, so I can’t comment on that yet. If anyone out there knows, please enlighten me. Or I may have to plunk down another $12 just to find out.
I am looking forward to the movie but just for fun would like to guess the Quoted line… I am sure a “Demi-God” faced with a Fury/Matron/English teacher (notice English teacher also Capitalized) might score some points with. “He hath achieved a maid That paragons description and wild fame, One that excels the quirks of blazoning pens, And in th’ essential vesture of creation Does tire the ingener.” Out of context she might be pleased with the quote! I always liked the blazoning pens imagery although I bought old fashioned typewriter to do my “blazoning” with!
Also….Is she teaching your Cosmopolitan class!? Check out the blackboard!
Thank goodness she isn’t teaching a class on cosmopolitanism! The “politan” belongs to “Metropolitan” as in “Museum of Art” here in New York: it’s the announcement of a class trip during which … interesting things happen. And I like your quote from Othello, though, the one they chose is much simpler as I now remember.
Metropolitan Museum of Art! I went there (in addition to a few others) when I was in New York this summer! I could live in places like that….except the food is way too expensive and the water fountains too infrequent.
Interesting things??? I will investigate.
@ Chani, your reference of “old fashioned typewriter” reminded me of my own love for fountain pens! If you enjoy the old fashioned typewriter, I think you’ll also enjoy the distinctive writing experience you’d get with an old fashioned fountain pen! 🙂
I agree with Prof P that the clever weaving of Greek mythology into the modern world was without a doubt the distinguishing and defining for the series and movie. I absolutely enjoyed the part where the gang was trapped within the Lotus Casino! It blended the ideas of escapism, “bread and circus,” relativity in the passage of time, blissful ignorance and apathy to warn readers of the dangers of drugs, addictions in general, and hedonistic lifestyles…
And to hazard a guess answering your question about why English teachers seem to have a bad rep within media, I would argue that most people associate “stern and strict” English teachers and their “challenging and subjective” classes with not so fond memories of grammar lessons, serious and dry subject matter, endless essays, draft after draft, and the hated and feared red pen… Now I’m not saying this is my personal view of English because it isn’t, but this appears to be the stereotype English typer in the media. That and the unbelievably exaggerated stereotype of the liberal, unorthodox, and chill pot-smoking hippy teacher… Luckily, I’ve been blessed with amazingly unique and fascinating English teachers throughout high school!
Odd. Why? Why? Why!