Amulet is awfully familiar...

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Jacob
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Amulet is awfully familiar...

Post by Jacob » Tue Mar 11, 2008 6:13 am

I noticed something while re-reading amulet. Now, first of all, I love the story, and I am in no way accusing Kazu of anything.

But Amulet is awfully similar to the first Spiderwick Chronicles book.

It's got a similar outlive, with a single mom and her children moving out to the middle of nowhere, into a distant relatives abandoned house. The house is a simply a big pile of shacks.

On page 32 of Spiderwick 1, there's an illustration of Jared standing in front of a large portrait of his vanished relative Arthur Spiderwick, a gentleman in a suit with glasses and a butterfly. On page 23 of Amulet, Emily is also standing in front of a large portrait of a dissapeared relative, Silas Charnon, who also wears glasses, a suit and a butterfly.

Afterwards, both children find a book that belonged to that relative, which describes the work of this relative.

I don't believe Kazu would take the outline, so I actually posted this because I thought it was amusing how similar the stories are. Thankfully, the story evolves into quite different stories afterwards, with Spiderwick becoming a modern fairytale, and Amulet becoming... well, I don't really know yet. But I sure am looking forward to knowing^^

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Chris Schweizer
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Post by Chris Schweizer » Wed Mar 12, 2008 9:31 pm

The single mom in the Spiderwick books (which I very much enjoyed) isn't a narrative device in and of herself; rather, she seems simply to illustrate the modernity of the story.

In Amulet, the mom being single is a consistent reminder of the palpable loss of the father, a key motivation behind the girl's choice to take on the role as the stonekeeper.

The portrait? That probably goes back LONG before these books... a creepy house, a missing relative... what better way to show both the relative's importance to the house and the time that has elapsed (few people sit for paintings anymore, leading one to assume that the person in question is either very old or has been gone a very long time). It's the most effective way to highlight a previous occupant, ESPECIALLY if one wanted to show that their influence still permeates their residence, as is the case in both these books.

There are some other similarities, notable the moms being placed in life-and-limb peril. There is, I think, a relatively new trend where we see stories moving away from the watered-down safety that's been all-too prevelant in kid literature for the past couple of decades. In these new books (Harry Potter, Series of Unfortunate Events, Spiderwick, etc) people can (and sometimes do) die. And, as it's unlikely that such a fate will fall upon the main character, placing his or her loved ones in jeopardy is a foreseeable outcome of this new gutsy kid lit.

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Kazu
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Post by Kazu » Thu Mar 13, 2008 12:16 pm

The setup for the book was mostly inspired by Miyazaki's Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro, and the opening to Krystof Kieslowski's film, Blue. And of course, my own life experience. I haven't read the Spiderwick Chronicles books, and I'm actually not a big fantasy fiction reader. I do love Harry Potter, though. :D Oh, and I really liked the first book in Ursula K. LeGuin's Earthsea cycle.

I've come to learn that most concepts and stories have been done before, so I spend more time focusing on the feelings and emotions I want to talk about, remixing ideas and paying loving tribute to things I love, the combination of which makes the work unique. The similarities you point out are interesting, though. I wonder how far back this particular concept goes in modern entertainment...
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Joseph Park
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Post by Joseph Park » Fri Mar 14, 2008 3:42 pm

Kazu wrote: I've come to learn that most concepts and stories have been done before, so I spend more time focusing on the feelings and emotions I want to talk about, remixing ideas and paying loving tribute to things I love, the combination of which makes the work unique. The similarities you point out are interesting, though. I wonder how far back this particular concept goes in modern entertainment...
Well said...

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Post by neil » Sat Mar 15, 2008 8:43 am

Kazu wrote:I wonder how far back this particular concept goes in modern entertainment...
When you were telling me about Amulet waaay back in 2005(?), it reminded me a little bit of this story (the book came out in 1961):

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Just with the idea of a secret world under a new house--there are hardly any similarities I can think of beyond that. (I vaguely remember a cartoon based on this book.) And the Chronicles of Narnia also come to mind--the portal to a secret world in the house of a mysterious relative forms the setup of that series as well.

And while the Spiderwick trailer was surprising for those reasons, I did wind up actually seeing the movie and it's a far cry from Amulet.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that the similarities are inevitable, but I think they're definitely superficial aspects of a genre.

The Kieslowski influence is way cooler anyway!

Oh, also: Your story of a brother and sister lost in Alledia reminds me of the story of a brother and sister lost in Illyria (Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night"). That's more like a free association than anything substantial, though.

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Post by gau dog » Sat Mar 15, 2008 11:41 am

Let's face it. We're all just a bunch of postmodern Tarantinoesque rip off artists. Incapable of original thoughts or experiences. Is that so bad?

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Post by Og » Sat Mar 15, 2008 11:43 am

Similarities aren't inevitable but useless comparisons are.
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neil
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Post by neil » Sat Mar 15, 2008 10:51 pm

gau dog wrote:Let's face it. We're all just a bunch of postmodern Tarantinoesque rip off artists. Incapable of original thoughts or experiences. Is that so bad?
I think anybody with an original point of view is capable of an original story (i.e. potentially everyone)--it's just that we rely on genres to provide a framework for those points of view because readers and audiences in general prefer some degree of familiarity and, by extension, a more social experience in their appreciation of stories.

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Post by gau dog » Sun Mar 16, 2008 12:03 am

I was saying that mostly in jest, actually. Of course, if 4 artist paint 1 tree, they'll all turn out differently. But if I think about it, I feel kind of sad that I or other people do draw meaningful experiences from stories which are in fact mostly artificiality. That these contrived stories are better at moving us than our own sense of reality. Or maybe I just live a dull life; it'd be so much better as a beautifully illustrated comic or a movie (stranger than fiction) with a stirring soundtrack!

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Jacob
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Post by Jacob » Mon Mar 17, 2008 10:48 am

Kazu wrote:... I haven't read the Spiderwick Chronicles books,...
Which makes it even more amusing.

Neil: You're right, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe features the same setup. I guess you could narrow Spiderwick, Narnia and Amulet, down to the youthful idea of exploring a big house. On the surface anyway. Hah, another subgenre of fantasy has been discovered. "House-exploring fantasy".

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Post by jdalton » Wed Mar 19, 2008 1:06 am

gau dog wrote:But if I think about it, I feel kind of sad that I or other people do draw meaningful experiences from stories which are in fact mostly artificiality. That these contrived stories are better at moving us than our own sense of reality. Or maybe I just live a dull life; it'd be so much better as a beautifully illustrated comic or a movie (stranger than fiction) with a stirring soundtrack!
On the contrary, I would say that by setting a story in an unbelievable world the context itself gets easily stripped away and the emotional world of the characters becomes more real. Or to put it another way, fantasy and sci-fi are like a coating of candy floss. Gorgeous and yummy, but easily digested. If you fill that candy floss with something substantial, something good for your soul, it will burst forth as soon as the story hits your stomach. On the other hand if you take those same core ingredients and surround them with gritty ordinary things the package will take a long time to digest before you get to the good stuff. If indeed you do at all.

Not that having a little grit in your diet isn't good for you either.
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