Zipper Sisters and Others > Deryni Movies

Is this the Deryni Moment?

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Alkari:
Oh certainly the Potter books have Christian symbolism, but there is no formal religion or "Church" as there is in the Deryni books.  However, the Church and organised religion plays an integral part in KK's books, and on the face of it, the conflict is simply the Church vs Deryni Magic.  That is where the danger lies, and that is what people are going to see.  Many, perhaps most, of them aren't going to read the books at all, so they will simply see and hear what they get in cinemas, and will react accordingly.  And given the doubts we both share about Hollywood's ability to portray complex moral issues, I'd say that this simple " Bad prejudiced Church vs Good Deryni magic"  would be the impression most audiences would take away, and - looking at US society as an outsider - I doubt it will sit easily with many people.  No matter what KK as author may have had in mind or what that conflict was meant to represent in larger moral terms, or how it could reflect various historical examples, I think you'd have to label this project "Here be dragons".

As I said in my first post, I'd really *like* to see some of these books on screen, but I'd want to see justice done to them, and even in the basic 'simple' story of Deryni Rising, I want to see the conflicts and prejudices addressed sensitively and appropriately.   If that cannot be done, then I'd rather just have the books, thanks.

BalanceTheEnergies:
Many thanks for the thoughtful replies, and many apologies for the  tardiness of my response; real life has been a handful, as my first foray into romance recently ended badly, and I've been licking my wounds. A bit of cinematic/literary therapy has been helpful (LOTR encore and Angels and Demons in particular), and along the way I've been able to come back to to this topic (Elijah Wood as Father Nivard? Ewan McGregor as Derry? Daniel Radcliffe as Conall? Broadbent or Wilkinson as Letald? Hmmm...). Now I can be sociable again, to the extent that I ever am sociable as opposed to skittish. I'll try to address the issues y'all have raised, and I look forward to the next round of replies.

I think my first answer to the Hollywood Objection is that these may not be Hollywood studio films as we know them. As noted in the LA Times piece I linked to in my introduction to this thread, movies are being brought to studios in a more developed state:


--- Quote ---Lieberman says being required to deliver a complete package to a studio — a great script with a star and/or filmmaker attached — actually can be empowering.
... "It's a spec script with a director involved, and we're creating a visual plan, a physical effects plan, and we're going to the studios and saying: 'Here's the movie, here's what it will look like and here's what it will cost you. Are you in or are you out?'
--- End quote ---

The piece also describes how The King's Speech got the greenlighted after having a completed script and actor Geoffrey Rush attached, and how The Fighter was done without studio financing at all. Let's not forget the other ways films get financed, particularly the joint studio projects like Titanic, independent film companies, and the film boards of other countries (UK/Canada/Australia/New Zealand/et. al.).

I also think the success of TKS ($135 million and rising in domestic US box office gross receipts last time I looked) is a helpful precedent for Deryni movies. As screenwriter David Seidler put it:


--- Quote ---"If I had gone into any executive office in Hollywood to pitch a story about a dead king who stutters, I would have been out of there in 30 seconds," he said. "They would have thought I was out of my mind."
--- End quote ---

Given the apparently wide appeal of the film and the award-winning prestige, that success may (I grant you, “may” is the operative word) garner financial support for Deryni films that are true to the books. For some players, (say, actors looking for emotional depth, creative challenges, or the promotion of political philosophy or ethics) nobler motives may also factor in their support. “...[F]or men follow their own interests for the highest as well as for the lowest causes...” (C.V. Wedgwood, The Thirty Years' War).

What is more, all these factors could be made to work together. The Deryni novels have always struck me as ensemble pieces, with different characters having their moments in the spotlight. Suppose a number of actors got interested in the material, or wanted to work with (an)other actor(s) on a project, and they club together and start shopping for a director. Then again, many of the actors I suggested have worked with others on my dream cast lists, and they might wish to renew their professional acquaintance. Those with especially large financial resources of their own may even choose to help with the financing. A national film council or two may want to lend a hand in hopes of benefiting (I'm thinking here of the LOTR tourism boost for New Zealand). A big-name director or producer may take a fancy to the material— I hear Harvey Weinstein is a voracious reader.....

None of this is a guarantee of anything, and much depends on the people who do get involved. I gathered from the chats that KK has had some input in the script process; if true, and particularly if it continues, that should prevent the worst excesses.

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I can't say I'm overly concerned about the possible fundie backlash.  Since the setting is medieval (i.e. prior to the appearance of Protestantism), the western Church could be read as Catholic. Not all Protestant/evangelical Christians are even convinced that Catholics are Christians (and never mind Eastern Orthodoxy, it hardly enters into the discussion). The whole “people of faith” umbrella may not apply, and organized opposition may not materialize. Even if it did, the vociferous types aren't as numerous or as powerful as they like to think; J. K. Rowling still made a fortune, despite fundie opposition. The Vatican may have something to say, but it hasn't stopped Ron Howard and Dan Brown, it has many other problems on its plate, and it may actually like the finished product.

I must beg to differ with Alkari: they cannot stop the films after High Deryni. Too many plots only fully develop (with the juicy scenes and arguments for all those actors!) in the subsequent books (Jehana, the Camberian Council, Duncan's self-outing and that chapel service!, to name only three). Stopping after HD also increases the likelihood that Kelson will come off as weak and angsty; he only becomes sufficiently ruthless for Vivienne's taste in the war with Meara. Worse yet, to the audience who only sees the first three installments with the plots as written, Kelson will seem as ineffective and insecure. At minimum, the tale must be taken through KKB in order to show Kelson as the statesman he becomes, a king who can effectively wield hard and soft power as required (yes, I know Joseph Nye only coined the term “soft power” twenty-odd years ago, but that doesn't mean it never existed until he named it.) In fact, I think there needs to be another installment to complete the story arc for the audience. More on that later...

BalanceTheEnergies:
Right then. I said before that a sequel to KKB is needed to complete the narrative arc, particularly as films are in the offing. (Not that KK's readers would object to another volume either, am I right?) What follows is one suggestion for this sequel, intended to follow the dual plot structure KK has used before (in TQSC and KKB to name only two), though I've separated the plotlines to make them easier to follow. I intended to tie some story threads, and provide a few visions of things fans would like to see. I've drawn on a number of sources, real life history as well as the novels and the Codex, so much of this material may seem familiar. Please accept my gratitude if I've borrowed from you, and my contrition if I've bore you.

I put all these events largely three to four years after the end of KKB. Some of my jumping off points only happen around that time according to “Brother Theophilus” and the novels (Liam-Lajos returning to Gwynedd for that accolade from Nigel, Briony being old enough for a Naming ritual, Morgan chairing that committee), some require time to develop, and some very interesting possibilities lurk in the near future. It may even be that what I propose isn't in the Codex because the Codex was left unfinished because of the untimely death of the “author”!

Enemies Foreign

Teymuraz is clearly the biggest piece of unfinished business, and this plot concerns his actions, and how the new Gwynedd-Torenth alliance responds. The Codex has Teymuraz marrying into the Byzantine Imperial family, and this makes a great deal of sense; he will need to obtain wealth and other resources in exile. Azim points out that he could fall back, produce heirs and bide his time for years, even a decade or two, and still be in the prime of his life.

So let's say he does something akin to what Basil I did in real life: worm his way into the imperial family, marry an imperial princess, even get himself crowned as a joint ruler. In this period, he uses what agents remain to him to sabotage the new rapprochement where possible. Meanwhile, he secretly prepares the imperial army (perhaps with training in Rum or some desert region á la the sardukar and the Fremen of Dune) and he learns about Greek Fire. He hatches a four-pronged surprise attack against the Ile d'Orsal, Fathane, Coroth and Laas using Greek Fire, to be followed by the troops.

By the way, Greek Fire is tailor-made for this scenario. It is human technology long kept secret, yet it is so beyond what most people understand about fire that is can cast a long shadow over Deryni-human relations. Remember that old saw about technology that is not understood seeming to be magical. Surely people will attribute the “unnatural” characteristics of Greek Fire (burning on water and not being extinguished by it) to Deryni magic of the worst kind. Proving the contrary will be difficult, and an intentional disinformation campaign would compound the difficulty. It's also helpful in that regard that Teymuraz took the St. Michael/Fire Pillar position at Liam-Lajos' investiture.

Countermeasures are clearly in order. I suggest some counterespionage in a team effort, including Sofiana's and Azim's resources as well as Kelson's and Liam's. I particularly advise including Derry in the mix. In addition to helping build the new Gwynedd-Torenth alliance and bringing the Camberian Council into new and closer working relationships, it puts humans and Deryni in close partnership and it brings back a fan favourite after his release from that possession spell. Perhaps he can “get a little of his own back,” as it were.

Of course, a military campaign would follow one or more surprise attacks of such magnitude. A joint campaign would test the new alliance, and there would no doubt be some friction after so many centuries of distrust. Expect many of the enforced innovations of war, as has been the case in real life. Also expect considerable anguish, with so few Healers (precise numbers depending upon the progress of the scholaup to that time) and so many casualties. New regrets over what has been lost are a given, but there could also be a new opportunity, if Laran could roll up his sleeves and work with Morgan/Duncan/Dhugal in a medical context.

In real life, Basil I had his co-emperor murdered after a  year or so and founded an imperial dynasty on his own. Suppose Teymuraz does the same thing, but with this twist: instead of merely killing his colleague, he performs a new and dark magic, altering the immortality spell Ariella tried in conjunction with a Mind-Rip to take his colleague's energy (his very soul!) to himself. The need for arcane research to figure out what he did and how to stop him begins to tie in the knowledge search of the other plotline, and it brings Camber back into the picture, whether in the form of tangible discoveries in documents (just what do the Anvillers have, anyway?) and/or a visit from Camber himself.

It's hard to say just how to encompass the death of Teymuraz. Betrayal by his Byzantine allies is always an option; his wife might have him taken (and likely blinded, given Byzantine history) and presented to Kelson and Liam-Lajos in negotiations to allow the Byzantine forces to retreat and take the secret of Greek Fire with them. On the magical front, surely he'd be at high risk of insanity, as Camber was when he took on Alister Cullen's memories, so acting to trigger that could be an answer. We also know that using any Deryni powers is physically fatiguing, with more strenuous/powerful magic being more fatiguing; what if this is because of the connection of body and soul? If Deryni are using their souls when they use their powers, and Teymuraz is using two souls, what might that do to his body?

Domestic

We know from KKB that Kelson was thinking of releasing Araxie's Haldane potential, that Morgan supported the idea (in conjunction with the new openness and the schola), and Araxie herself was both intrigued and willing. We also know that the Camberian Council has been hostile to idea of more than one Haldane having the powers (they discussed eliminating Nigel in TKJ rather than permitting him to keep what he was given). Knowing Kelson, he'd probably also consider letting Rory in on some measure or power; Rory is to be Viceroy Meara, and Nigel himself suggested that such sharing done earlier might have prevented Conall from seeking power with Tiercel's help. I cannot see Kelson accepting a seat on the Council, in case it may be a means of controlling him as Sofiana once suggested. No doubt a councillor will again allude to Lewys ap Norfal, since Jehana and therefore Kelson is of that bloodline (per TKJ prologue). Given the unfocused discussions that seem to be their wont, this could lead to the topic of a Portal at Coroth; wasn't the castle, and particularly the green-windowed study, associated with Lewys ap Norfal? Is that why Morgan doesn't have one there, or why the Council hasn't permitted one there?

Of course, the Council itself is changing, and the old hostility could change with it. We might get to see the creation of a permanent Transfer Portal. Other things are also changing. Briony is at the right age for a Naming ritual, and it might be interesting to see one performed for her. It might be even more interesting if she displays potential Healing ability in this period. (Recall that Evaine and Rhys Thuryn had a son and a daughter who were Healers, and that the de Corwyns are descended from them.) Hard to say just how this is learned; perhaps research turns up some particular resonance in Healers that can be read once one knows what to look for, or perhaps it manifests in response to some need (as in “Catalyst”). However it happens, it triggers a row between Morgan and Richenda: she points out that there are precious few Healers, he's the protective father who doesn't want his little girl witnessing so much blood and suffering, she plays the trump card and reminds him of his mother's fate, asking if women deserve any chance to avoid such a death as hers.

Also in this early stage, Duncan discovers the faint Portal at Sheele. Say he goes to administer Extreme Unction to someone in that master bedroom and feels the faint tingle, but another Deryni cannot find it. Arilan can be called upon for Portal expertise, and Morgan can use his committee post to research the ownership of the manor. At some point, they learn that the Portal was attuned to blood relatives only (like the library Veil) and put that together with the former owners of the manor (namely, the Thuryns). Suddenly, the cousins begin to understand Camber's interest in them (which they couldn't fathom in the Chronicles): they and theirs are Camber's descendants!. Should this information get back to the Council (likely via Arilan), it might prompt a reconsideration of old hostilities. This process might be helped along if Kelson reveals more of his visions (say, the one at Nigel's partial empowering). Given their reverence for their founder, can they really justify hostility toward his descendants, especially given their loyalty and their integrity? And doesn't Camber's apparent approval of Nigel's empowering mean something as well?

Other research is more pressing, however. Teymuraz has been located, but he's at the head of a far-off government (with huge resources at his command), and all the allies have to learn what they can of his plans in order to counter them. Perhaps they can learn of the dark magic in the other plotline from the Anvillers' archives (perhaps after Teymuraz goes there himself or has an agent do it). Kelson and some of his courtiers have long wanted to know more about Camber and the mysteries around his sainthood and Joram's behaviour. What was an intellectual pursuit takes on more urgency in these circumstances. Suppose Kelson and his courtiers figure out what Teymuraz has done in altering that spell (which would require some thinking outside the box). Teymuraz is confronted, the other soul is released (maybe Arilan or someone else does what Evaine did for Camber?), and the war is brought to a close.

In addition to enabling them to defeat Teymuraz once and for all, might not these events finally earn Morgan and Duncan seats on the Council? (Given old age, illness, accidents, assassination and war, more turnover on the Council is probable.) Picture the ceremony, with old members and new joining hands around the table, Morgan and Duncan on either side of Camber's Siege. See Camber take his seat and place his hands in blessing upon the clasped hands of his descendants. Perhaps even Barrett can “see” it as he “saw” Michon's funeral. That, my friends, is an ending.

Alkari:
Some interesting ideas, BTE.

Though I think you are wrong about the Transfer Portal in Coroth - from what KK has said and also written in Deryni Magic, the apparent lack of a portal doesn't have anything to do with Lewys ap Norfal. Rather, it is because Duke Stiofan (Morgan's great great grandfather) died in 1068 and there was no Deryni in residence in Coroth until Alaric himself took over there on reaching his majority (1105).   (It is true that Duke Stiofan was a friend of Lewys's, and that the experiment was carried out in Castle Coroth as the result of what Lewys found in his excavations, but the Duke himself was not a participant.)  

It is highly likely that there was a TP in Coroth at one stage, given that the Dukes have always been Deryni, but as TPs can fade from lack of use, it seems this is what has happened and Alaric hasn't found traces of it yet.  There should not be any problems getting one installed however - even Arilan in KKB mentions the desirability of having one there and getting the CC to 'agree', and with the membership of the CC as at the end of KKB, I can't see them opposing it (and after all, Richenda is related to both Sofiana and Azim).  Of course, Kelson, Alaric, Richenda and co could well have the power to construct one themselves if they worked together, regardless of the CC! :D  

tenworld:
I like your scenarios, too bad that once published here they can never be incorporated into canon novels.
I liked the bit about Greek Fire, the secret for which has never been rediscovered.  Human technology vs Deryni magic!  (the old saw is of course from Authur C. Clarke).

I have always thought that the moment when Morgan, Duncan and the council (especially Arilan the arrogant) learn that they are descendants of Camber will be a defining moment in the series, maybe even the last words written.

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