Monday, January 16, 2017

Lawrence Millman's "At the End of the World"

Lawrence Millman has written sixteen books, including Last Places, A Kayak Full of Ghosts, An Evening Among Headhunters, Lost in the Arctic, and — most recently — At the End of the World: A True Story of Murder in the Arctic.

Here Millman shares his take on not thinking about adapting At the End of the World for the big screen:
At the End of the World documents a series of murders in the name of religion not in San Bernardino, California, or Orlando, Florida, but in the Belcher Islands, a remote archipelago in Canada’s Hudson Bay. Likewise, those murders took place not yesterday but in the winter of 1941. At the time, the local Inuit in these islands had virtually no contact with the outside world.

So there I was, describing the following scene to a friend: An Inuit woman named Mina had decided Jesus would soon be kayaking down from the sky, and that (in her words) “We must go out onto the ice to meet our Savior.” Whereupon she dog whipped a number of people onto the ice in -20’F temperatures, all the while shouting, “Come, Jesus, come!” Suddenly she announced: “Naked we must greet our Savior!” And then she began tearing off the clothes of the other Inuit, including her own elderly mother. In the end, six people froze to death.

My friend exclaimed: “Wow! This would make a great movie!” I hadn’t thought of my book as a movie. I thought of it as, well, a book. So my response was, “Why a movie? Why not a book or even a lecture?” I answered my own query as follows: “Because it requires less thought to watch a movie than to read a book or listen to a lecture, and facility has become the ultimate goal of our species. To quote French philosopher Michel de Montagne, ‘Virtue rejects facility to be her companion. She requires a craggy, rough, and thorny way…’”

By the way, Jesus did not come kayaking down from the sky on that cold March day in 1941, and I still think books are better than movies.
Visit Lawrence Millman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue