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Film-makers discuss THAT change to their Pet Sematary movie

February 8th, 2019 by Marc Comments

With the new trailer for Pet Sematary arriving yesterday (here) you may have – if you’re a big fan of the original novel from Stephen King – noticed a big change in the plot.

In King’s book it was the little boy, Gage Creed, who gets killed by a truck and then gets resurrected when his devastated father buried him in the local Pet Sematary which had a habit of bringing back the dead.

However, in the new movie it’s Ellie, the big sister who meets the gruesome fate.

Now, I’m perfectly fine with books and movies taking liberties with each other –  just the other night I was talking to my daughter (a massive Roald Dahl fan) about the movies based on his books and she asked why Fantastic Mr Fox deviates so much from the source material and I told her that when you adapt a book you have two choices: Make it really faithful and you have a live-action book OR change it a great deal and you have two different versions of the same tale.

So I’m not that fussed about it being a direct adaptation.

However, I do take issue with changes just ‘because’.

But the film-makers have given an in-depth explanation: “By having the elder child in the Creed family as a central character of our film we were able to explore the dual themes of family and death in a deeper way. And Ellie being older than her brother allowed other characters to interact with her in a way that a toddler simply couldn’t.” is the general consensus.

Co-director Dennis Widmyer said of the change: “That twist was in the script when we came on board, and straight away you could see that it was one of the smartest things in the script. It was new and fresh but also absolutely kept the essence of the novel.”
Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura says: “I’ve been lucky enough to have worked on something like 80 different book or graphic novel [adaptations]. And I think the truth of any success is that if you treat it literally you get in trouble because it feels very static and stale. But if you make too manychanges then you’ve lost the essence of what it is. This treads the perfect line.”

Other co-director Kevin Kolsch says: “You’ve also got to be sure that you’re making changes for the right reasons, not just a shock factor. And changing it to Ellie makes absolute sense to the story.”

Dennis Widmyer replies: “Absolutely. One of the things we liked about the novel is that it’s always the character of Ellie who is asking about these things. She’s asking about her cat dying one day and asking all these big questions. So, it felt right for it to be her, to echo these questions to her Dad, to resolve these earlier conversations that we’ve had. It felt like a nice way to connect that theme.”

Lorenzo di Bonaventura:“It’s like when we adapted Harry Potter, when I was at Warner Brothers. Before it got made, we were treated as though the book was the Bible or something. You know, like, ‘You can’t change a word!’ And we made some really large changes. And no-one noticed because we had done it in the spirit of the book. It is about embracing what the book is trying to say, and not trying to change its tone, its rhythm and its perspective, while also evolving things forward.”

We’ll see how it all pans out when it hits cinemas but for now, we’re cautiously optimistic.

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Marc is a self-confessed nerd. Ever since seeing Star Wars for the first time around 1979 he’s been an unapologetic fan of the Wars and still believes, with Clone Wars and now Underworld, we are yet to see the best Star Wars. He’s a dad of two who now doesn’t have the time (or money) to collect the amount of toys, comics, movies and books he once did, much to the relief of his long-suffering wife. In the real world he’s a graphic designer. He started Following the Nerd because he was tired of searching a million sites every day for all the best news that he loves and decided to create one place where you can go to get the whole lot. Secretly he longs to be sitting in the cockpit of his YT-1300 Corellian Transport ship with his co-pilot Chewie, roaming the universe, waiting for his next big adventure, but feels just at home watching cartoons with his kids….