Ender’s Game Disappoints, But Another Card to be Dealt

Ender’s Game might be over, but Hollywood has another Card up its sleeve. Entertainment Weekly has recently announced a new addition to the dystopian market audiences so enjoy: Unaccompanied Sonata is being adapted from a short story by Orson Scott Card which was first published by Omni Magazine in 1979.

The story tells the tale of a young child, brought up in a not-so-bright future, who is forced to use his natural gifts to create original pieces of music. The story centers on the idea that influence from other artists and works will taint the potential quality of the central character’s writing ability. After discovering Bach, the main character is barred from ever creating music again and is left adrift with nothing more than remorse.

Yaron Zilberman, best known for his 2012 release of A Late Quartet, will be adapting the short story into full-length feature film. There is little information concerning cast or release date yet, but speculation is already plentiful. Last year’s disappointing release of Ender’s Game has left few hopeful enthusiasts that the complex subtleties of Card’s work can be accurately translated into film. Best known for his intricate stories and robust character portrayals, Orson Scott Card has delighted fans for decades. Although, at times, his social comments left a certain amount of bitterness with even his most fervent fans.

One of the fundamental flaws with Ender’s Game was its inability to instill the sense of isolation these children felt. The ignorance and blind acceptance that made the battle games so intense was overshadowed by bland special effects. It transformed an emotional story of character growth and self-sacrifice into a straight-laced action film. The movie comes off closer to an adaption of the book jacket than it does the story inside. While the decision to cast older children was understandable, it inevitably affected the emotional resonance. When watching a youth bear the responsibility and pressure these characters endured, the age gap between a six year old and a teenager became an unfortunate obstacle the filmmakers could not overcome, resulting in a film that stayed in theaters for a minimal time, before being edged into DVD and streaming outlets like Netflix, Amazon and DirectTV.

The upside to adapting Unaccompanied Sonata into a film, simply titled Sonata, is its openness to interpretation. This lesser known title has room to grow and expand beyond the narrative. There is plenty of room for stylistic endeavors, from gothic science fiction to a romanticized dystopia. Sonata can also be marketed on its merits alone and does not require the same name branding that was inevitable with Ender’s Game. Any controversy that Orson Scott Card creates can easily be ignored, or even capitalized on, at the filmmaker’s discretion.

Adapting movies is always a risk due to the fact you must compete with the preconception of the general public. Characters, settings, and general tone have already existed in the minds of millions since childhood with works such as Ender’s Game. However, there are plenty of stories and ideas encased in short stories and novels, which can easily translate into film. A majority of these works are, for the most part, completely unknown by the average moviegoer.

Sonata, as a film, has the potential to reestablish Orson Scott Card as a viable source for film reproduction. The failure of Ender’s Game has all but prevented the chances of a sequel being made. However, with the upcoming release and potential success of Sonata, Ender’s Shadow might be looming in the distance…