The Light Fantastic

Terry Pratchett
The Light Fantastic Cover

The Light Fantastic


On the rare occasion when I watch a movie based on a book, I am not typically likely to hold the movie up to the book for comparison. They are separate works, and I judge them separately.

Such is not always the case.

With The Color of Magic, the movie version of The Color of Magic and The Light Fantastic, which I found one day on a library shelf shortly after finishing The Light Fantastic, I was unable to distinguish the two in my mind. The two novels are squished into one movie, starring, among others, Sean Astin, Tim Curry, and Christopher Lee (as the voice of Death), and watching the movie was, to be completely frank, a huge mistake.

The second novel in the Discworld series is as good, if not substantially better, than The Color of Magic. Picking up exactly where that book left off, the reader finds Rincewind flailing off of the edge of the world as Twoflower, the first tourist in Discworld's history, coasts in a metal vehicle aimed at determining the gender of the Great A'Tuin. But the spell stuck in Rincewind's head will not die, and the world moves to save them.

Like he's hitting his stride after warming up with The Color of Magic, Terry Pratchett is on his game, witty, incisive, sarcastic, and, always, entertaining.

And the movie totally butchers that. As funny as Pratchett is, his talent with language just doesn't translate to film, and while Christopher Lee provides a great voice for Mort, the casting fails to measure up to the depth of my imagination strung along on Pratchett's vocabulary and clever story.

No surprise here: The Light Fantastic IS fantastic, and it'll be the last time I look for a good replication of his magic in film. Pratchett's power is in language, not in film.