I just read Ted Hughes’ “The Iron Man,” the very short children’s book that the animated movie “The Iron Giant” was based on.
The movie is vastly better…
What grinds the book down for me is that it is so breathlessly a children’s book. Lots of “CRAAASSHH” sound effects, a lack of any real motivation for most of the characters, grotesque exaggeration (a dragon as big as Australia!) and the stapled on happy ending.
The contest between the Iron Man and the Dragon was cute, but falls into the “If I Were The Evil Overlord” trap. If you’re a nasty evil planet-conquerer, don’t go making bets with the locals. (And if you do, and lose, break your word.)
Also, really, REALLY, there are better ways to get from the top of a cliff to the bottom. There was absolutely no reason given for the Iron Man jumping off the cliff in the opening scene.
I liked the book as a child, just because it’s quite poetic in places (Space-Bat-Angel-Dragon), and I loved the film from the first time I saw it.
In all honesty, it was only when I re-read the book as an adult (reading it to my children) that I saw the boy’s name was Hogarth and realised the book and film were related - they really aren’t all that similar besides.
The beauty of Chris Van Allsburg books is in the illustrations and the mystery he conveys in such few words. They’ve made a few movies from his books and they always have to stretch the material a lot.
Speaking of Iron Man/Iron Giant, I remember a guy I worked with back in the mid-to-late 80s had a CD that was based on the story, but I can’t remember who the artist was. I do remember that John Lee Hooker did the vocals on a couple songs but am pretty sure he was not the main artist. Does this ring a bell with anybody?
Don’t know who’s from where, so don’t know who’s heard of Jackanory…but it was a kind of “storytime” show on British TV for decades. And that’s where I know the Iron Man from - being read out on TV. So, when it became a film, just the fact that it was called the Iron “Giant” sounded a bit overblown and grandiose! There’s something very low-key about classic British telly…
Never seen it, but I sort of think I don’t want to. I’m happy with my memory.