Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Patrick Rothfuss's "The Name of the Wind"

Patrick Rothfuss's debut fantasy novel The Name of the Wind has earned some extremely good reviews.

The overview to the story introduces--
the tale of Kvothe — from his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, to years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-riddled city, to his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a difficult and dangerous school of magic. In these pages you will come to know Kvothe as a notorious magician, an accomplished thief, a masterful musician, and an infamous assassin. But The Name of the Wind is so much more — for the story it tells reveals the truth behind Kvothe's legend.
Here Rothfuss shares some ideas about the above-the-line talent for a film adaptation of his new novel:
Over the years I've thought of my book as a movie. While I'm not nearly the movie junkie that some of my friends are I still watch movies and television, and I still daydream. These days I don't think you can be alive and untouched by the visual appeal of movies, I think it's safe to say that all writers are.

I had one person point out to me that in one page of the book I'd moved through three changes in point of view, and several different verb tenses. I'd had hundreds of people read the book by that point, thousands maybe, and nobody had noticed that before. Even me. I'd always thought of that particular passage as a slow pan out, like the camera pulling back into the distance. Of course, I don't have a camera to work with, only words. So I apparently had to break a few of the ordinary writery rules to achieve the same effect.

Anyway. On to the meat of things. Who would I get to work on the movie if I got to build my dream team?

Screenplay: Joss Whedon. Do I really need to explain why? No. I don't think so. I wouldn't mind having him for director either, as I think his style would be perfect for handling this sort of character-centered story. However, if I couldn't have him for director, I'd gladly pick...

Director: Guillermo Del Toro. Pan's Labyrinth blew me away. Seriously. It was the most perfect, badass, realistic faerie tale I've seen in years. I want that guy on my team.

Casting for Denna, the female lead, is easy. I'd love to see Natalie Portman in that role. I've admired the hell out of her for about ten years, ever since I saw Beautiful Girls. I think Denna would be the most difficult part to play in the entire the movie. She's a complicated character, and to make her real, I would need a real actress with some serious versatility and talent. Portman has talent and versatility in spades.

Second, Portman is a dead ringer for Denna, physically. The teardrop face, the dark hair and eyes. The charisma, charm, and body-type, all pretty much dead-on.

I don't know who I would want for my main character though. Kvothe is ... tricky. I don't think I'd like a star in the role. I don't want Brad Pitt as Kvothe. I just want Kvothe as himself. To that purpose, I think I'd need to get a no-name actor with some serious acting chops to play the male lead.

The other hard part of casting Kvothe is that I don't have a good idea what he really looks like. I spend most of the time looking out from behind his eyes. Kvothe should be attractive, lean and red-haired. But other than that, I think his personality is more important than what sort of nose he has. His personality is what drives the story. It's what makes the readers love him while at the same time they find him a bit exasperating. I need a real actor to pull that off too.

There are a lot of secondary characters, and I'm already running out of space here. I could see Johnny Depp doing a good Elodin, and Edward Norton playing a very good Elxa Dal. Both of them would be wasted on those smaller parts though, and honestly I feel guilty even suggesting them for anything other than lead roles.
Visit Patrick Rothfuss's website and his blog, and read an excerpt from The Name of the Wind.

--Marshal Zeringue