Stephen King's Carrie, and How the Movie Adaptions All Seem to Miss the Point
The latest version of Carrie has been underway shooting in Toronto for the better part of six weeks. The film starring Chloë Grace Moretz is not due out in theaters until March of next year, but there has already been a bit of buzz including photos on the set and some allegedly leaked B-roll footage. Moretz will not have to travel very far at all when Carrie wraps in September because her next film, Kick-Ass 2 overlaps its shooting schedule by two days and is also filming in Toronto.
I'd like to point out that every version of Carrie done so far shares a similar questionable alteration in that they all stray from the book's depiction of Carrie White. The book describes such things as her being a little fat in the middle, having long dirty-looking, dark blond hair and acne everywhere. In every case Carrie's outward flaws as depicted in the book are downplayed, softened or even eliminated for the movie adaptations. Maybe they were decisions made by the studios in attempting to make their stars not too unattractive perhaps feeling a more accurate depiction might repel potential audiences. Maybe they were done to make the character of Carrie seem less like a caricature freak and more like a normal person just unfairly mistreated. Whatever the reasons, Carrie White was to me supposed to be a social misfit and a high school pariah and her appearance was a large part of the reason. Her introverted personality and timid nature was largely a result of the treatment she received based on her appearance and social deficiencies. By having her flaws reduced, it potentially takes away some of the seriousness of her plight. She goes from someone getting bullied because she's an easy target; to someone who has a little more obvious going for her, she just doesn't see it.
In the photos and footage seen so far, she still looks like a pretty girl. Part of the point of the book was the transformation she had, going from an extreme outcast to gaining some courage and reaching for her dream of just being liked and accepted by the other kids. For one fleeting moment she seems to get her wish before it's all taken away in a splash of blood and cruelty. Here, and in every adaptation made, Carrie is portrayed as a not-so-ugly wallflower. And while it isn't something that completely ruins the movie, it does come across as missing part of the point. The transformation for her prom is part of the journey, as is her realization after the prank that it was all for naught and she's still the outcast she always has been, but now on a grander scale. Carrie was supposed to be the ultimate tortured high school soul. Whether or not other people ever actually looked as she did, many people have gone through their high school years feeling how Carrie looked. And that is one of the reasons why the book found the audience that it did. Given the violence that both bullies and in some cases their retaliating victims have expressed in real life, I have no doubt there are many teenaged souls who could identify with her situation and would have reveled at being able to wish pain and death upon their tormenting classmates if they could. Perhaps Moretz's portrayal will make up for that, but I feel the production potentially starts itself off in a hole because of it.
Allegedly leaked "B" Roll Footage from the set of Carrie @ school's swimming pool featuring Chloe Moretz and Gabriella Wilde - as Carrie White and Sue Snell.
Stephen King's book, which was first published in 1974, has been adapted before. Brian De Palma directed the first and best remember version back in 1976. That film would later get a very loose sequel of sorts called The Rage: Carrie 2 in 1999. NBC also produced a made-for-television adaptation in 2002 intending for it to be a pilot for an ongoing series. But due to low ratings the series never came to be.
Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don't Cry) is directing the new PG-13 adaptation. Toronto's Northern Secondary (High) School, Toronto Pinewood Studios and nearby the town of Newmarket are all standing in for the movie's setting of Chamberlain, Maine. No word yet on whether or not Carrie wipes out the town after the prom. The film co-stars Julianne Moore, Judy Greer, Portia Doubleday and Ansel Elgort. MGM and Screen Gems are producing and distributing the film.
Photo of "Carrie" Promotional banner displayed at this year's San Diego Comic-Con.