Some time back I reviewed the Asylum TV movie 2010: Moby Dick and I promised solemnly to scrutinize any other movie adaptations of seafaring fantasy novels to the same degree.
Lemuel Gulliver, the hero of Jonathan Swift’s classic novel, encounters the small bodied and smaller minded Lilliputians and intervenes in the ages-long war between the Bigenders and Littlenders. This is just the first in a series of fantastic voyages, each satirizing some aspect of Swift’s society. In the final encounter humans are depicted as savage Yahoos shamed by their serene, civilized superiors the Houyhnhnms. Horse worship, incidentally, is an important sci-fi trope, although arguably some authors, Suzy McKee Charnas and Elizabeth Moon for example, are both a little too comfortable in the saddle.
When I first read the original Gulliver’s Travels, a good twenty five years ago, one of the most memorable scenes for me was the one in which Gulliver cajoles the Lilliputians to build him a giant TV room and then to humiliate themselves by acting out a game of Guitar Hero for him. It strikes me as rather clever of Swift, writing in the 1720s, to have come up with such a biting a satire on console gaming.
I was extremely pleased to see that this scene, curiously missing in the so-highly-acclaimed TV adaptation, is central to the recent Jack Black movie. Indeed, If you don’t understand the role Guitar Hero plays in Gulliver’s adventures then very little else in the novel makes sense. This scene, which will go on to become a modern cinema classic, pretty much makes up for the fact that Jack Black’s version cuts out EVERYTHING ELSE. Swift would have been so proud to see his vision finally given the faithful and authentic presentation it deserves.