The Color of Magic

is actually two episodes made for TV of the Pratchett
novels The Color of Magic and The
Light Fantastic.

Like Hogfather,
which was made a couple of years before The color of
, it’s very faithful to
, and very inventive visually. This is unsurprising
because Pratchett himself was involved in the production. (He
even had a bit part in The color of Magic.) Not
everything in these movies looks the way I’d imagined it when
I read the books, but you aren’t going to find images that are
explicitly contradicted in the books.

I was watching with two friends, one of whom is also a
Pratchett fan, and the other hasn’t read any of his books. The
non-fan gave up and went home before the end of the first
episode. I had been wondering even before that happened whether
this movie was suitable for someone who hasn’t read the books.
Not that the books aren’t confusing and inexplicable in places,
but readers of speculative fiction are more used to that than
watchers of movies.

Also, although these were the first two books Pratchett wrote
about Discworld,
they probably aren’t the best place to start even for a reader.
I got started with Men
at Arms
, based on my principle of getting the longest book
on the library shelves at the moment, when I don’t have better
advice about where to start. When I loaned Bonnie one to start
with when she was first in the hospital, I picked Maskerade,
because of the music and overweight prejudice themes,
although when she liked it, I brought her Hogfather
pretty soon afterwards.

In general, the reason to start this series somewhere in the
middle is that Pratchett did get better. The later ones depend
an awful lot on character and plot development earlier in the
series, but the middle ones not so much, because there’s a lot
less character and plot development in the early ones.

So if you’re a Pratchett fan, you’ll probably enjoy these
movies. If you aren’t, watching Hogfather might
give you some idea of whether you might want to be one, but
you probably shouldn’t bother with The color of
until you’ve read at least some of the books. In
general, reading the books is better than watching the movies,
good as they are.

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