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A Series of Down Endings

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Industry | August 5, 2009 |

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Industry | August 5, 2009 |

Test audiences didn’t like the ending of The Time Traveler’s Wife, so they changed it so that it has a happy ending.

Director Robert Schwentke explained: “So we made the choice to say, ‘OK, we know what we need to do. We’re smarter now.’ It’s a process when you make a film. We hadn’t been dated or anything, so we felt like, ‘OK, let’s do the right thing. Let’s finish the movie properly.’”

Oh blind fury, how I’ve missed you. It’s been a week or two since you last curled my hands into claws to rip furrows from my own flesh.

“Properly”? Really? You’re going to go there? You’ve directed Flightplan and a single episode of “Lie to Me” and you’re going to swap out the gut-wrenching final scene of a beautiful story because 30 people you found at a mall on a Tuesday afternoon didn’t like being sad? It’s a tragic love story you ignorant twat, it’s not supposed to end with a warm and fuzzy “awwwwwww, how sweet.” The only things that should have happy endings in Hollywood are massages and Disney films, and even Walt killed Bambi’s mom.

Mrs. SLW pointed out The Time Traveler’s Wife to me a couple of days ago because she knew I loved the novel so much. I’d seen the trailer and explained to her that I didn’t hold out much hope for it as a movie because so much of the story is internalized characterization, which just doesn’t translate well to the visual medium of the screen. Well, I gave the film industry too much credit. The film isn’t going to suck because directors are incapable of translating internal characterization to the screen, it’s going to suck because they’re incapable of translating a fucking story onto the screen.

I flipped through SciFi Wire this morning and noticed a hilarious trend to the headlines over the last couple of days:

“God forbid you call Time-Traveler’s Wife a sci-fi film.”
“Hughes brothers: Don’t call Eli a post-apocalyptic thriller”
“Park Chan-wook: Don’t think of Thirst as a vampire movie”

Let’s just generalize the meme: “don’t think about movies as stories.” They’re not made for us to think about; they’re just there to give our reptile brains two-hour hand jobs.

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Steven Lloyd Wilson is the sci-fi and history editor. You can email him here or follow him on Twitter.