Wednesday, June 6, 2012

RIP Ray Bradbury: The Veldt (1989)

Ray Bradbury died today, 91 years young and an author I consider to be my absolute favourite. He's the sole reason why I started to write myself and has affected my view on the dark and macabre in ways I didn't knew was possible.

I was five years old when I first experienced something Ray Bradbuy created. It was November 16th 1983, on TV2, Sveriges Television ("Sweden's Television"). Tord Pååg premiered his TV-play Savannen, based on Bradbury's 1950 short story The Veldt. It scared me like nothing else before that and still when I close my eyes I see a short clip of bloody, white clothes, laying on the floor. That's it.

That version is impossible to find, so I took the time to watch the 1989 version included in The Ray Bradbury Theatre TV-series, a Canadian project that produced an impressive amount of Bradbury-adaptations. Often cheap, but skilfully directed and with good actors. Here the story is set in a very eighties future with a stylish colourful home and kids dressed like Darth Vader and Princess Leila. Their nursery has taken over their life and the paranoid mother wants them to turn of their holographic 3D, stereophonic, room. The environment in there has grown more hostile: a savannah with very angry animals...

The Veldt is not so much about the dangers of technology as the danger of children. Evil children, egocentric children - sometimes using their still pure minds to manipulate and destroy. It's an effective story and even here, in a cheap Canadian TV-version, you can feel the chills going up your spine when watching the doomed parents trying to understand what's wrong with their dream home and their not so innocent children.

It's a powerful and dark story.

I wish I could see the Swedish version again. See that shot that's still in my mind, still haunts me when I close my eyes. Maybe it was the fear of loosing my parents, who was going through a difficult time then, or maybe the interesting possibilities of the future.

Because The Veldt is mainly about taking control over your life and let go of those grown-up that calls themselves your parents.

See you on the red planet Mars, Ray.


Anonymous said...

Really sad news....I will miss Bradbury.

This swedish and also the canadian version sounds interesting.

I only seen one version of this short story by Bradbury, The Illustrated Man (1969) a very flawed adaptation if you ask me.

Ninja Dixon said...

Never seen that one, but I haven't heard so much good about it. Why is it flawed?

Anonymous said...

Ninja: Well....they mash 3-4 short stories by Bradbury into one film....anthology films are usually flawed and this is not an exception.

Slow paced, uneven acting especially from Rod Steiger....the film isn´t grabbing your attention.

The Veldt is one of those stories featured in this film.

But check it might like it.

Ninja Dixon said...

I might, just because I want to see more Bradbury on film!

Anonymous said...

'Savannen', so that must've been the version I saw then. '83 sounds about right though I thought I was younger when I saw it. It had a profound effect on me as well.

Now the reason I was looking into this is quite interesting. this blog entry was linked from IMDB. Now, I was looking for another film shown on Swedish television at appr the same time, which gave me a proper scare. For some reason I was thinking about 'The Veldt' perhaps because it had a deep impact on me as well. Thanks to the collective mind of the viewers of SF-bokhandeln I found out it was an Italian film called 'Closed Curcuit' (I hope you didn't see it as well, cause you would've freaked out). Then I read a review about this film,, and the reviewer makes a reference to... 'The Veldt'. A bit freaky.


Ninja Dixon said...

Leif, Close Circuit is a damn fine little movie. I reviewed it once:

I still haven't been able to locate a version of Savannen and SVT, as usual, never answers emails regarding old stuff.

But I'm very happy Månguden got a good release and I've been able to locate another legendary TV-movie shown on Swedish television: Det Spökar På TV-Huset, original title "Draugasaga":