Here’s to the costumes…what a fan learned from Outlander

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My maiden voyage into fandom has been filled with treasure troves of friendship, self-discovery and unique opportunities to learn the lay of the land that is film-making. In short, Outlander on Starz has been a singular experience. One of the reasons this experience has been so positive is my  interaction with the author and the folks making my favorite book come to life on the screen. I never dreamed I would have such access and the reality of their willingness to talk with and share with fans has resulted in a life-enriching experience.

Terry Dresbach, the costume designer for the show, has been one of the more open and accessible folks.  She very quickly realized that fans were genuinely interested in what she does and how she does it. She has been open to questions and even started a blog to help satisfy our curiosity about her creative process TerryDresbach.com. I have laughingly said she is like the Wizard of Oz and has let us see behind the “creative curtain”.  She has let us into her world of research, sketches, swatches, and interpretation. It has been fascinating.

Like many fans, I’ve been oh-ing and awe-ing over her creations. I’ve listened to her explain her creative choices and how she has blended historical accuracy with the needs and the realities of making a film. I’ve learned a lot, but per usual for me, there was an “aha moment” that caused me to look a little deeper. It was this.

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I’ve heard Terry say that costume design is about telling a story and I guess at some level I understood that, but this was the moment I think I truly understood what she was saying. HER COSTUMES HELP TELL THE STORY. Yeah…we understood that…I can hear you saying, but for me it took this minimal costuming to clarify what I learned.

“What is it that costume designers truly do for a production?” was the question I clarified for myself when I heard Terry explain this scene. Her choice to let these characters be clothed in pale linen and their own skin allowed the viewer to focus on what the actors were saying.  We were not distracted by the “costumes”. However, I’ve come to see that her design was about more than that; there was a connection to the Abby and the practicality of nursing Jamie’s wounds and innocence and intimacy and vulnerability and unity with the set design and….probably a lot more.  The thought that went into those simple garments staggers.

Here, in this scene, I understood the genius that is her costume designing.

I’ve come to understand that it isn’t about parading beautiful clothes across the screen, but about helping the viewer become immersed in the character and story. She makes her costuming a seamless part of the storytelling. Sometimes, she chooses to make something stand out on purpose and sometimes, like the abbey scene, the costumes make the scene standout by making the costumes not stand out.

I wanted to know more, so I did a little lite research. I read an interesting excerpt from the book Filmcraft: Costume Design  by Deborah Nadoolman Landis, the 2015 Edith Head Award for the Advancement and Education of the Art of Costume Design recipient.  Ms. Landis says that the role of a costume designer is to design the people in the show.  She says that film costuming serves two purposes,

” …the first is to support the narrative by creating authentic characters (people); and the second is composition, to provide balance within the frame using color, texture, and silhouette.”

The abby scene illustrates this point perfectly.  Terry’s choice in color and simplicity helps, “support the narrative and create a unified fictional space”.

Now, I’m thinking…where else did I see this color and simplicity? When I realized where, it literally brought tears to my eyes…the Wedding.

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Once again, her design tells the story of intimacy, innocence, and vulnerability.  There is nothing in the design to get in the way of the words and yet it enhances what is happening on the screen.

Her designs are helping to create authentic people within the parameters of a historical period and with an idea to each character’s personality and place in the story. A case in point is Black Jack Randall and Frank Randall.  I remember Ron Moore, the executive producer who just happens to be Terry’s husband and the person who thankfully talked her into designing for this show, describing his watching Tobias Menzies trying on his costumes.  He said he quickly went and got Terry to see Tobias, “doing it again”. What he meant by this was the transformation that seemed to occur when Tobias put on his costumes. He stood differently,…his body language was different.  The costumes helped him create and become his character.  Terry “designed” Black Jack Randall and Frank.

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I’m starting to notice other little touches and nods to character, color and texture in her designs. I was admiring the elaborate and beautiful wedding dress when I realized Terry was telling the story of two weddings! Both in silver! And, both were telling something about Claire’s role in two different time periods.  In 1945, Claire is wed in a beautiful silver suit with simple lines that is as modern and confident as she is herself.

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In contrast, in her 1743 dress she is completely the opposite.  Once again dressed in silver to be wed, she is anything but modern, simple or confident.

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She looks like a fairy-tale, but the elaborate gown only accentuates that she is a stranger in a strange land. I can’t help but speculate about what else this deliberate design choice was saying about Claire and the story. Is it that the more fairy-tale like dress foreshadowed the fantasy quality of Jamie and Claire’s relationship? Is the rushed and simple wedding significant of Frank and Claire’s doomed relationship, etc…

Once again, costumes help tell the story and design the “people”. A costume designer’s job is to help realize the screenplay, but, I’ve learned that isn’t an easy thing to do and my respect for Terry and the job she tackles has grown!

…A designer’s work is inextricable from the theatrical context and collaborative interrelationships in which they work—the dialogue, the actor, the cinematography, the weather, the season, the time of day, the choreography of movement and a dozen other dilemmas all present challenges… Deborah Nadoolman Landis © 2012

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that Terry doesn’t do this all on her own. Her designs are brought to beautiful fruition by a very talented team. I’m sure her love and appreciation of them is great. The quality of workmanship is obvious and their dedication to their craft very much appreciated by this fan! They make me proud!

So, here’s to the costumes, their designers and makers because of you Outlander is beautiful and the characters and story have a soul.

Weekend with a three year old…a Grandma’s perspective … No Outlander to be found in this one!

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It was Fathers day weekend and we were at my son’s home celebrating. While my husband and son were bonding on the golf course, I got to spend time with my littlest two granddaughters. The one year-old is almost blonde (her hair is coming in nicely) and has big blue eyes and dimples. I love dimples.  She is toddling everywhere and repeating everything.  She counts to five and loves to be read to. She is a happy pleasant child and a real joy to be around.

And, then…there is the three year-old…I think when they came up with the word contrary they had her in mind.

She isn’t easy. She wants what she wants, but what she wants seems to change by the minute. She is stubborn and defiant.  I say she fibs. Her parents say she flat out lies.  She knows the rules and isn’t afraid to bend them to suit her needs. She can open anything and if it’s quiet you better go find her.  She’s a cute and tiny little thing with a pixie haircut who knows how to roll her eyes, sigh dramatically or place her hands on her hips in anger. In short,…she’s delightful.  Maybe it’s because I’m the Grandma, but I think she is a riot and I  have to struggle not to laugh at the child while she exasperates everyone around her.  I don’t  laugh because I KNOW that would be bad and would just encourage the child to misbehave, but Lord knows it’s tough to hold back that smile when she lies about eating her breakfast in order to make herself eligible for a treat.  Her parents think God made her extra cute on purpose.  You know like how some bugs look like sticks, etc.  It helps her survive.

The tales that child tells!  If imagination and the ability to carry a theme are any indication, I think I might have a budding writer on my hands.  I heard tales of birthday parties, wind storms, bugs, and how her best friend lost her IPod.  She was concerned about my gender and was very pleased to hear I was a girl too!  I heard a very interesting rendition of Mary had a Little Lamb and heard the same chorus from the movie Frozen, conservatively estimating, about 100 times. We played card games with no rules and somehow someone still won or lost and I was expected to act appropriately joyful or dismayed.  She asked if she could go swimming and before we knew it the child was naked and in the water. She put a toad on my chest and told me it had lost its momma and I was now the  toad’s new momma, “cuz hims is just a baby”. She caught fish on her Minnie Mouse fishing pole using hotdogs for bait and may or may not have broken a TV set.  It’s broken, but no one saw what happened. My money is on the girl.

Despite being warned that she has the attention span of a gnat, I decided to take her to see Inside Out at the movie theater.  She put on her frilly tutu and her bedazzled t-shirt and off we went. She was very excited to be attending with her older sister and especially with her sister’s friend.  The 11 year friend didn’t quite know why she was so popular, but she was a good sport about having to be hung on and sat by and generally adored.  We bought popcorn, found our seats with “blankie” the blanket in tow.  She lasted 10 minutes including the previews before she fell asleep. The movie was wonderful and about five minutes toward the end as the audience is learning the little girl in the movie is growing up,  I heard a sleepy little voice beside me say, ” Grammy dis is the best movie eva!” And, looking at her clutching her blankie and staring up at the screen eyes full of wonder, I thought, “yes, …yes it is”.

Emmys for Outlander….they deserve it!

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Like many in the fandom, I tweeted the cleverest tweets I could for an hour solid in support of #EmmysforOutlander.  I truly believe the show deserves accolades and as a fan I’ll do whatever I can to make that happen. The show was more than entertaining it was compelling.

As positive as I am that the show deserves all the awards they can get, I’m fearful that there is a fly in the Emmy ointment. It appears that the show is still battling an image problem. Please don’t misunderstand. I did not feel that recent interviews were negative, nor do I believe the interviewers have to read the book to talk about the show.  But, I’m hearing questions and comments that make me fear the show is still misunderstood and as a result maybe not be as respected as it should be.

In a recent interview with Sam Heughan, the interviewer kept referring to the fact that his wife watches the show and that Sam appeared shirtless a lot.  Sam was gracious and tried to steer the conversation toward a more serious and less shallow topic, but even Sam’s discussion of the Gaelic used on the show was turned into a “Fabio” type reference by the interviewer.

I have a theory that the show is still being perceived as a series based on a romance novel that Ron is somehow fixing up.

Point in case, another interview with Sam found the interviewer surprised that what he found were interesting plot twists and character development  were INDEED in the book. He actually looked taken aback and asked the question again to make sure Sam had heard right.  The same interviewer shared with Caitriona Balfe that he had binge watched the first half of the season and was now hooked on the show because he must have an inner old lady side to himself (can you see the incredulity on my face?).  I continue to see the story referred to as a time-traveling bodice ripper romance where Claire falls for a hunky Scotsman (not that bodices aren’t ripped or Sam isn’t hunky, but you get my point).  The show is still having an image issue. And…in my humble opinion things like this don’t help;


Sigh…..they are cute, but I’m really finding it hard to like a Black Jack Randall doll after episodes 15 and 16!  Does he come with accessories?  A mallet and nails? Lavender oil?  Is this what Starz marketing folks think we want?  If so, then I’m wondering what THEY think the show is about and who they think WE are? (They’ll probably sell thousands because they are cute and I know I’ll be taking some hits for this)  So, I’m confused and I think people who really don’t know about the show are too!  I know this is blasphemy, but maybe that original Vanity Fair article was right!  Maybe they are marketing to who they THINK we are…hmmmm….the kilt drops…

All this leads me to be a bit concerned about how the show is being perceived by the academy voters if this is how the media views the show. However, a fellow fan pointed out to me that the critics have also consistently given the show high marks. And, they have thrown around some wonderful adjectives and called the show brave and ground-breaking and called performances stellar. So, maybe the RIGHT people (those with the power to influence votes) get it. Fingers crossed!

But…. just in case they need further convincing…here are my top reasons.…Outlander deserves an Emmy…its my blog…I can pretend my opinion matters if I want to!

1.  They took their time

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Those of us who read the books were understandably concerned about how they were going to do justice to our “big book” and story. We were relieved to hear Starz was giving the first book 16 episodes which was pretty much unprecedented. For us book fans, it still wasn’t enough! Greedy lot us book fans. There was a lot of talk about Outlander’s decision to take their time setting up the story including the use of voice-overs.  It was a gamble for sure, but a necessary gamble if you intended for the show to last more than one season.  This story needs the set-up.  If for no other reason than to understand Claire’s decision when Jamie takes her back to the stones, The story needs the context of her internal struggle and the real danger she places herself in by staying. The “slow burn” of Jamie and Claire’s relationship was refreshing to see. They didn’t jump into bed despite an obvious attraction. Their relationship was given time to develop. By the end of the season, the viewer truly had a sense of who these “people” were. They gave us time to connect to the characters and their struggles. They allowed us to see how alike and different our world is from the one Claire finds herself.  They allowed us the time to care about the characters.

2.  They got the genre thing right

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One of the most intriguing things about Diana Gabaldon’s books are the fact that they are hard to describe.  Try it! I find myself saying a lot of “just trust me on this, I know it doesn’t sound good, but it is”.  Because she was writing the first book for practice, Ms. Gabaldon freed herself from the boundary of genre.  She wrote and figured she would determine what genre she was writing along the way.  I’m not sure she ever did fit her square book into a round genre hole and I’m thankful for it. It made the reading that more interesting to have a mix of history, science fiction, horror, mystery, and yes, a love story.  This would seemingly make the story more difficult to adapt, but I think this was one of the big things the series got right.

Every episode had a story arch and just when the viewer would think they knew where the story was going and maybe expect more of the same the show would change. One week, we are at witch trail and the next a complicated homecoming. One episode we are navigating life at the castle and the next traveling the Scottish countryside. We watched Claire try to match wits with the terrifyingly cruel Capt. Jack Randall and then watched her try to deal with a unwanted marriage and …honeymoon.  And, … they never let us forget the stones and Frank were always on Claire’s mind. The adaptation worked.

3.  They immersed you in 1743 Scotland 

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Scotland was a character in the story. It was breathtakingly stark and beautiful. The costumes and sets made it easy to believe that Claire had found herself in 1743. It was a rich viewing experience. The musical score, the filming, directing, writing and production choices were all made with the idea that everything had to have a purpose including the tougher more titillating stuff. I never felt the violence or nudity was gratuitous.  It always felt necessary and as a result, we got to see an intelligent and beautiful story.

4. They let us see real women

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A lot has been written on this subject, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the FACT that this show has done more for the portrayal of women in film than anything in recent memory. There is a lot good TV out there right now, but I would say that Outlander’s women were the closest to real people. The women on this show were portrayed as complex, strong, kind, ruthless, compassionate, sexually confident, intelligent, able to think on their feet, and heroes who could save the day. These ladies weren’t your typical damsels in distress!

5.  Characters with character

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I enjoy watching Game of Thrones, a show Outlander has been compared to. I have nothing against R.R. Martin or the show based on his works.  They are what they are, but what they are is a far cry from what Outlander is or tries to be.

GOT’s season was full of characters acting out of warped emotions, values and needs. Lots of titillating stuff to discuss around the water cooler, but I must admit the most shocking thing about this show is how hard it is to find a redeeming character. I wish I could say this trend toward pushing the moral and ethical envelope was the exception rather than the rule on TV, but I can’t.  It is all too common.

My reaction to the GOT characters and their actions is very different from what I feel when I watch Outlander. When I watch Outlander I find myself emotionally connected to their stories.  Even given the fantasy element of time-travel, I found the main characters struggles to make the right choices familiar.  Many of us struggle to do the right thing and be good people. When I watched Claire and Jamie and Ned and even Gellis make their choices, I felt a real kinship. My eyes filled with tears for the human compassion I was witnessing. These characters made unselfish choices. Refreshing.

6. Real People Sex

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Once again they took their time and made sex a part of the story. The Wedding Episode was the closest thing to real sex between two people who care about each other that I’ve ever seen.  The other elements of sex in the story were told with the same care and purposefulness. Sex is a part of life and relationships. It can be awkward, passionate, tender, and sometimes even horribly life-shattering. Outlander did not shy away from showing us sex from a man’s AND a woman’s point of view. It was beautiful and awful, but always done with story in mind.

7.The performances

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I can’t remember the last time I was so blown away by performances. In fact, the show has been off the air for over two weeks and I can’t stop talking about those performances! I know there is this common belief that a viewer really shouldn’t notice the acting because if you do then somehow your disbelief didn’t get suspended enough.  Maybe that’s true, but I’m pretty sure I bought what they were selling!  My appreciation occurred upon reflection. Like I said before, the dust has settled and I can’t get the performances out of my mind! It felt real.

  • Tobias: It was something about the eyes. Tobias Menzies portrayal of Frank and his ancestor Black Jack Randall was fascinating to watch. Watching an actor play two roles and imbue them with character was intriguing.. I saw their differences and their similarities. He managed to make Jack’s villainy believable and somehow human despite his monstrous appetites. He was terrifying.
  • Sam: Sam Heughan’s portrayal of Jamie was spot on. Although I wished we could have seen a bit more of the man beneath the boy in the first half of the season, I was won over by the switch to his POV in episode 9 The Reckoning.  ” What is Jamie thinking?” was a brilliant technique for moving the story and the character forward. Jamie had dialogue long enough to let us see his character and with his convincing acting skills, Sam had time to let us “see” Jamie. We saw Jamie be brave, calculating, thoughtful, loyal. imperfect, frustrated, devastated, strong, truthful, and caring, just to name a few of the many sides of the character I knew from the books. And then,…there are the last two episodes. I’ve never seen an actor portray so much with so few words. As uncomfortable as those episodes are to watch, I keep re-watching them because I’m amazed by the performances. Every time I re-watch, I find something new to appreciate like body language or a subtle look.  The progression from a proud and unbreakable man to a totally devastated and broken man was heart-breathtakingly beautiful.
  • Caitriona:  I’m not sure that Caitriona Balfe’s performance is ever given enough credit. She is in almost every scene and without her brilliant portrayal of our frustratingly wonderful and strong Claire the show would not have succeeded. She made us believe that this happened to this woman and the viewers grew to care about her and her plight. We have all been strangers in a strange land and had to find our way at some point in our lives.  Caitriona’s portrayal of Claire dealing with the unimaginable and retaining her humanity and strength of character truly made me proud to be a woman.  She managed to get Claire’s sense of morality, justice and passion for life on the screen. We saw a woman who like many of us picks herself up, dusts herself off, accepts the situation and makes the best life for herself and others as she can.

One of my readers, an actress in the Biz summed up a lot of what I’m hearing from those folks who know what it takes to do a show like this;

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It is the kind of TV we have been waiting for and we want more of this kind of quality story-telling on our screens.. Please consider Outlander for an Emmy.because they deserve it.

Jamie Fraser….portrait of a father…in Outlander

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bethwesson:

My re-blog in time for Father’s Day!

Originally posted on My Outlander Blog!:

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Spoilers: this post contains info about the entire series

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Every year, Father’s Day is celebrated in the U.S. on a Sunday in June. This day is often filled with family get-togethers, BBQ and gifts of some really ugly ties!  This wonderful family day can be bittersweet for many including myself. Memories of imperfect relationships, complicated emotions, and regret tend to rear their ugly heads.  It took me years of living and reflection to be able to look at this particular relationship with any semblance of objectivity. I had to become an adult with adult children before I could truly begin to understand my father.  I’ve heard people say, when discussing parental dysfunction, “he did the best he could with what he had”. I’m not sure that was true in my fathers’ case. It seems to me he had been given a lot to work with…

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“I expected to be entertained , not healed”… OUTLANDER AND READER RESPONSE

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My readers have graciously requested that I continue to write during “Droughtlander the Sequel”. Admittedly, I was a bit worried about that. I wondered what I would write about after the show was over! Oh, I of little faith, the fan-dom has given me plenty of fodder! They are constantly saying or doing something that inspires me to think and then write.  For instance, Diana Gabaldon recently posted a favorite fan comment of the day.

FAVORITE READER COMMENT OF THE DAY:

“Outlander was thrust upon me by a very insistent long time fan. I expected to be entertained, not healed.”

–Beth B.

My response to this was “Awwwww”

Other readers? Not so much…

See what I mean? Plenty of inspiration fodder!

When I went to college, I was already an adult with 28 yrs of life experience. My husband gave me a little insight into what college was likely to be like for someone such as myself, “You’ll be like a sponge . You’ll love every minute.  The professors will love you and the kids will hate you for making them look bad! “. He was pretty prophetic.  I did love every minute and the kids tended to roll their eyes at me and my eagerly raised hand. I wanted to discuss and share! They wanted to pass the class with as little effort as possible and I was making them look bad. However, after a long night partying and a short night studying, some of my fellow students saw me as a valuable commodity,”Let’s ask Beth what the reading was about”.  I may have gotten my fellow students out of a sticky situation temporarily, but I always felt they were missing the point…reading was life changing.  At least, I felt so.

One of the things I learned while earning my English degree was a theory called Reader Response. In a nutshell, the theory proposes the idea that no two readers have the same reading experience because no two people are the same.  We come to a book or movie for that matter with everything we’ve read and seen and all of our life-experiences. In addition, we often come to a reading from different places in our life’s journey. Some may read a piece of literature as an 18 yr old virgin others as a 40 something well “seasoned’ individual. Some may come to a book having just experienced a most meaningful moment of human bonding. Another reader may have just experienced a devastating loss. The theory proposes that all of these things affect our response to what we read. We all make meaning and then incorporate what we’ve learned from what we read to suit our individual needs and experience. What moves me may not move you and vice versa. We react to what we read and it becomes part of us.  It makes sense and I have seen nothing since that refutes that theory.  In fact, we now have some brain science to back its validity!

Author Hilary Freeman was intrigued by the benefits of reading and wrote the article “Getting Lost in a Good Book Can Keep You Healthy”.

…there’s increasing evidence that reading for pleasure isn’t just another leisure pursuit, or merely a way of improving literacy skills and factual knowledge….It might actually be good for our mental and physical health too.”

She cites the findings of several studies and quotes neuroscientists in her article.  She concludes that reading for pleasure has both mental and physical benefits. It helps us think more clearly, enriches our relationships and can even increase our empathy.  One of the more interesting things I read in this article was a quote from John Stein, emeritus professor of neuroscience at Magdalen College, Oxford.

‘When we “get lost” in a good book, we’re doing more than simply following a story. Imagining what’s happening is as good at activating the brain as “doing” it.’

Recent brain scan studies show that when we read the same areas of the brain, “that are used to process these experiences in real life are activated, creating new neural pathways”.  So, when we read it is as if we are experiencing it ourselves.  Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2193496/Getting-lost-good-book-help-healthy.html#ixzz3cZZ0UZgR

Reading helps us to experience things we may never have the chance to in real life.  And, these studies are indicating that people are inspired to make changes in their own lives as a result. In the article,  If You Didn’t Love Reading Before You See This, You’ll Love It After  by Sarah White,  the author says that  studies show that reading fiction,

“…teaches you to be human…helps you see other people’s perspectives. A good book is the closest we can get to being in another person’s skin, and it can help us understand the real people in our lives a little better. …Reading can give you a new perspective. Here I’m not just talking about getting to peer into different worlds, but the fact that reading about life situations similar to your own may give you a different perspective on things. Whether you need help navigating a breakup or dealing with your parents, there’s a book for that.”

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/20-reasons-read-that-will-change-your-life.html

So, it would appear that books have the potential to heal as Diana’s reader suggested. When we get lost in a book, studies have shown that we might actually change our own behaviour and thoughts to match that of the character.  It is a phenomenon that researchers are calling “experience-taking”. They found that “experience-taking’ can lead to real-life changes. Strongly identifying with a character who overcomes can lead to over-coming!

I’m sure, I’m not the only one who has found this to be true in their own lives.  Like Diana’s reader who found herself surprised to be healed by Ms. Gabaldon’s story of Jamie and Claire and all the other myriad characters she has work through all of life’s challenges and ironies, I too have been changed by books. The Box Car Children and Queenie Peavy helped to shape the child I became.  Corrie ten Boom and The Hiding Place taught me about faith and what it means to care for others and …

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Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander Series has helped to enrich my relationships with those I love. So, can a book heal? I’m gonna vote yes and feel sorry for those whose worlds and experiences are limited by a life without fiction.

Over Sea to Skye—Did Outlander Make the Leap from Page to Screen?

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bethwesson:

I enjoyed reading this person perspective! AND…she is saying a lot of what we have all been saying Ron and company gave us a show to be proud of!

Originally posted on Live from La Quinta:

Beloved books rarely make an artful transition to the silver screen. Complex characters, interior musings and weighty subjects demand more skill than most cinematic auteurs can deliver.

gone-with-the-wind Most memorable screen lovers in annals of moviemaking.

Gone With the Wind delivered the goods with its sweeping cinematography and score, redoubtable storytelling and charismatic leads (mopey Leslie Howard as Ashley aside) adroitly channeling their fictional counterparts. Even author Margaret Mitchell graciously bestowed her approbation. mockingbirdMy all-time favorite page-to-frame retelling? To Kill a Mockingbird. Its bleak ambiance, lyrical, melancholy score, spot-on performances, and intuitive depiction of disturbing subject matter bequeathed a small, enduring treasure to the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel’s legions of lovers. Harper Lee was also pleased with the cinematic endeavor, commenting to a bemused Gregory Peck that his small tummy pooch reminded her of own beloved father—the inspiration for her indelible protagonist Atticus Finch. outlander starzOutlanderjust wrapped its debut season…

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The Kingdom of Outlander…a cautionary tale

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Once upon a time, there was a kingdom that had a great treasure. It was a big book that the subjects never tired of reading. The book was beloved and its story celebrated.  The Kingdom’s subjects read the book and talked about the book and bonded together over the book.  It was a beautiful thing.

From the very beginning, the subjects said “It isn’t fair we keep this book all to ourselves! We are being selfish! Surely we can share the joy our book brings with others!”  So, the story was shared all over the world and the kingdom grew and the people bonded again over their love of the book.  The more the merrier was the cry!

There had always been a wish in the Kingdom to see the characters in the story come to life! “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could actually SEE our story not just imagine it?! ” they said.  But alas, the book was VERY big and no one could figure out how to show the story in a way that would make sense and yet, still bring the viewers the same joy it had for those who were readers!

Many years passed and the story remained on the pages of the book and in the readers’ imaginations. The Kingdom’s readers had almost given up hope when the author of the beloved book made a pronouncement! “The Story will be told!  We have found a magician who has had a vision and knows how to make our Big Book come to life right before our very eyes! ”  The subjects of the Kingdom rejoiced! The Kingdom was alive with news of the magician’s progress and finally the day came and the citizens’ dream of seeing their story come to life came true!  They saw their well-loved characters speaking and moving and it was a wonder!

But soon, as sometimes happens, the shiny newness of the dream began to fade. The miracle seemed less like magic and more like a trick that anyone could do!  The citizens began to grumble, “But, he left the best parts out!” and “That isn’t in the book” and “Our hero would never act that way”.

The magic version of the book had brought new members to the Kingdom, members who had never read the book, but they loved the story too! But soon, as sometimes happens, the people began to divide themselves into groups.  The citizens grumbled,”But we were here first!” and “They don’t know the story like we do!”  The grumbling got louder and soon there was discontent in the Kingdom.  And, even though there were citizens who loved both versions of the story, some people began to argue with each other and the new citizens were made to feel less than the old.

What the citizens didn’t understand was that the magic the magician wielded depended on the continued goodwill and desire of those who wished to see it.  When the interest faded, so would the magic. The squabbling and discontent and outright attacks on those who “weren’t real fans” of the book, took its toll on the magician and his magic. Soon, as sometimes happens, the people destroyed the very dream they had longed for because of their intolerance.

The moral of the story is this, “a book belongs to no one”. You can’t harness what it makes others think and feel. People bring their own stories with them when they read or see a tale and, as ALWAYS happens, no two people will ever hear or see or read the same way. Kindness, tolerance and respect generate a magic that helps keep dreams and goodwill alive.