Mission To Mars

This month Disney presents the epic, action adventure film John Carter, based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic, A Princess of Mars, the first novel in Burroughs’ Barsoom series.

2012 marks the 100th anniversary of Burroughs’ character John Carter, the original hero featured in the series, who has thrilled generations with his adventures on Mars. Over generations, John Carter has become a heroic paradigm across all forms of popular culture. From novels to comic books, artwork to animation, TV and now cinema, the character has inspired some of the most creative minds of the last century.

The Director

Academy Award winning director / writer Andrew Stanton explained that he stumbled across these books at the perfect age. He was about ten and just fell in love with the concept of a human finding himself on Mars, among amazing creatures in a strange new world. A stranger in a strange land. It was a very romantic aspect of adventure and science fiction. He goes on to say that he always thought it would be cool to see this realised on the big screen.

Andrew Stanton is best known for directing and co-writing the screenplay for Disney/Pixar’s Wall-E which earned the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature in 2008. Stanton was also nominated for an Oscar for the screenplay. He made his directorial debut with Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo which garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay and won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature in 2003.

I like the idea of a damaged character, who has morals and values, but because life’s dealt him a bad hand, does not want to go back into the world again as the person he was before. What it takes for John Carter to engage again is to leave Earth and find his humanity among the Martians

Andrew Stanton

The Legacy of John Carter

He is considered by many to be the first space hero. John Carter was first introduced to the world in American writer Edgar Rice Burroughs’ story Under the Moons of Mars, which was published serially in All-story Magazine before being renamed and published as a novel A Princess of Mars in 1917.

Burroughs would go on to write ten more books in what came to be known as the Barsoom series. Barsoom being Burroughs’ name for the planet Mars. Since the book’s publication, some of the 20th century’s greatest minds in art, literature and science have credited it with inspiring and motivating their work.

Burroughs started writing the story when he was 35 years old. He was working for his brother at a stationary company at the time and used scratch pads manufactured by the company to create elaborate worksheets that helped him track his plots, characters and timelines. Before he finished, Burroughs realised that he had no idea how to get the novel published and submitted 43,000 words of the story to the editor of All-Story Magazine under the title Dejah Thoris, Martian Princess. Managing editor Thomas Newell Metcalf offered $400 for the serialization rights and promptly changed the title.

Science fiction writers Robert A. Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury have all credited John Carter as inspiration for their own work. James Cameron has cited the John Carter books as an influence on his epic science fiction film Avatar, George Lucas credits Carter with inspiring the Star Wars movies and writer Michael Crichton named one of his characters after John Carter.

Today, one can still visit the site of Burroughs’ home, which he named Tarzana Ranch, in the city of Tarzana, California.

Carter has lost everything in the Civil War and he basically goes into his recluse mode of living, mining for gold. he’s covering up what he hasn’t dealt with – the guilt he feels over the loss of everything he went to war to protect. He has a fear of taking responsibility and losing everything dear to him again. He refuses to fight for any cause and pushes himself away from becoming close to anyone.

Actor Taylor Kitsch who plays John Carter

Dejah Thoris is the Princess of Helium but also the Regent of Science and Letters. Andrew Stanton and I molded her to be very feminine but in a very masculine, smart and intellectual way. At the start of the movie, you see her addressing a large group of scientist about what is needed to save her people – peace and science are her super objectives. What is interesting is the time period. You don’t really know where we are in time history-wise but you do know that females are considered equals. Men and women fight side by side and i found that so wonderfully modern and exciting to be part of. It is rewarding to play a character who is so well balenced.

Actress Lynn Collins who plays Dejah Thoris

John Carter opens in cinemas 8 Mar

Images, featurettes and notes courtesy of Walt Disney Motion Pictures Studios Singapore

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