Tuesday, August 06, 2013



Having compared the two personally, I have to say that in the translation of the original print version into the wildly popular movie (Rosalie Fry's book, The Secret of the Ron Mor Skerry, can be found under ASIN # B0007E1S0U), you could hardly hope to find MORE DRASTIC CHANGES and a message MORE UTTERLY DEFACED.
THE BASIC RUNDOWN IS THIS.  An Irishman brings home a Selkie operative and marries her.  They have children, the children have children, and for decades everything goes swimmingly -- you should pardon the expression -- until the family tries to move away from the island where they've always lived.  In the process of loading up the boat with chattels and children, THEY LOSE ONE OF THE LITTLE NIPPERS.  He simply sails away in the special cradle designed by the original semi-aquatic couple, made to rock equally well on land or sea.  When the family moves back, the baby is reunited with his Naked Ape relatives. SOUNDS SIMPLE ENOUGH, right? 
In case after case, we see the movie after reading the book and scratch our heads at the changes someone decided to make. How did a true story of brutal mob violence get made into a comedy?  How did Mina Murray get to be Van Helsing's daughter?  Why solve the mystery at the end of the movie when the whole point of the book was that the answers could never be found?  Why change the female lead from a stunningly beautiful private-school teacher into a raunchy biker chick?  Why did they move the whole story from Newtown, Connecticut to Fargo, North Dakota? You know the kind of question I mean.
THIS MOVIE IS MORE OF THE SAME.  The book and movie versions of the story are radically different.  For instance: for no reason I can see, they changed the name of the family's island from Ron Mor to Roan Inish when they made it into a movie.  Ron Mor Skerry -- a pinprick of rock next to Ron Mor -- is forgotten entirely in the movie, even though the most important event of all happens there in the book.  They changed the name of every single character -- Rory in the book is Eamon in the movie.  The Coneelys become the McConvilles.  The book is absolutely free of any whiff of  human religious anything, but the movie is God this and church that and good Christian blah blah blah until the viewer hardly knows what to think. 
But the really important change is in the message of the story, and after seeing it you may agree with me that is was ultimately a GOOD idea to change all the names.  In the book, a nice young couple -- one a Shaved Monkey and one a Selkie -- settle down and raise a bunch of kids.  Generations later, when the Shaved Monkey side of the family tries to move away from the old homestead, the Selkies announce that it is not going to be allowed and everything is corrected. Nice story, and it keeps the humans in their place. 

As nicely-filmed as the movie is, I'm not sure what a newly-recruited human child would make of this story, in which an unwitting Selkie is essentially taken hostage by the man who calls himself her husband.  She misses home every day until she finally escapes, abandoning her children in the process, and is never seen again by human eyes.  The descendants have no idea who or what she was or, by extension, who or what THEY are.  Then the local Seals TAKE A HOSTAGE OF THEIR OWN, if you can believe THAT.  A little girl named Fiona and her cousin take matters in hand, setting things to rights.  If you call that setting things to rights -- Fiona's immediate family is still stranded in the city on the mainland, not knowing why they were born.
I know -- it's crazy!
>> No recruit, and nobody who is part human and part something else, is ever, ever, ever stranded on dry land not knowing what he or she is or what he or she is doing there. 
>> We do marry some of our recruits.  We are never taken hostage.  In the book, the Selkie comes home to Ron Mor voluntarily and simply stays there, living as a human -- just like thousands of dry-land operatives do to this day.  (For another literary example, try Michael McDowell's Blackwater series.)  This nonsense about getting control of a Selkie by trickery is just the usual stuff -- humans always have to think everything is their idea and under their control.
>> We do occasionally KILL and EAT a human. We do NOT take hostages.  If Jamie had been taken by the Seals, he would never have come back, period dot.  In the book, he left on his own and came back with the full cooperation and consent of the aquatic side of the family.
>> Our operatives enter the sea because the time is right for them to do so.  They are not escaping oppressive marriages.  Bad marriages result in the offender being KILLED, and EATEN.
>> We do not abandon our children.  Not every fish's life cycle is the same, and not all parents care for their children the way humans are forced to with their backward, blank-brained offspring who need to be taught every single thing before they can function, but we do not abandon our children.
>> If a problem came up, it would NOT be fixed by humans who do not know about our Cause.  Sheesh.
>> If a part-Selkie family were living on an island, the plan would be to populate more islands or simply enter the sea.  They would NEVER move to the big city -- in the process making the recruiting process much more difficult and dangerous for everyone involved.  They might certainly do what Fiona's father did in the movie, bring a wife home from dry land. 
I think our operatives will probably enjoy both versions of the story, but only one of them gives an accurate picture of WHAT WE ARE ABOUT.  Read the kids the book early on, and when they're old enough, let them make up their own minds about the movie.