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'Foundation': the work 'impossible to adapt' reaches television

2021-09-27T13:27:17.961Z

Asimov's trilogy, a seminal contribution to the history of science fiction, is premiered on screens by Apple TV + in a blockbuster that works in all its aspects



What seemed impossible has come true.

Considered one of the best series of novels in the history of science fiction - awarded as such at the Hugo Awards in 1966 - and a cornerstone of the genre,

Fundación

he had found no adaptation to the screen. The Isaac Asimov trilogy (Petrovici, Russia, 1920-New York, 1992), with its prequels and sequels, was until now among the great projects postponed, rejected, discarded before starting due to the enormity of the challenge. A narrative arc that spans several centuries, many characters, unlikely stellar locations, a philosophy difficult to capture on screen, and the absence of action in the first 150 pages alienated prestigious directors from the project. "This is tough," James Cameron said when it was offered to him. The history of

Dune

, which had its last and controversial chapter in Dennis Villeneuve's adaptation, was repeated with more intensity.

Roland Emmerich or Jonathan Nolan, for HBO, were involved in different projects that did not come to fruition.

Until Apple TV + and David S. Goyer

(Dark City

,

Batman Begins) appeared,

as scriptwriter and executive producer of the television project: 10 chapters that can be seen from this Friday, with the premiere of the first two, and from there one per week.

Jared Harris, as Hari Seldon, and Lou Llobell, as Gaal Dornick, in a 'Founding' moment. Apple TV +

Apple TV + had the money and means to put at Goyer's disposal. The show and a more animated rhythm than that of the novels, but without excesses, are present from the first minute of the first chapter. The production design is flawless but straightforward. 50 artists have worked on the creation of 170 scenarios, 13 types of ships and six different planets. There are digital special effects, but also large analog stages and locations around the globe (including the Canary Islands and Iceland) but the bulk was shot at the Troy Studios in Limerick, in what has become the largest audiovisual production in Irish history. . Great numbers for the series with which the platform wants to give a knock in the television world.

However, it is in other details where the success of the adaptation could be called into question. And it comes out unscathed, or almost.

Fundación

is a vast project that occupied decades of work from the prolific and tireless Asimov. It began in 1942 as a series of short stories in

Astounding Science Fiction

magazine

. In the early 1950s, they were converted into three volumes to which he added two sequels and two prequels in the 1980s. In addition, that universe connects with other parts of his work, which complicates any adaptation. In

Foundation

, Hari Seldon, master mathematician of psychohistory, the science that studies and predicts the behavior of the masses, predicts the decline of the galactic empire and the advent of 30,000 years of violence and darkness.

Faced with inevitable evil, he proposes starting a community, a Foundation, that preserves the knowledge of humanity and limits the duration of darkness.

From this approach highly influenced by the

Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,

by Edward Gibbon, Asimov mixes, in the almost 700 pages of the original version of the trilogy, space adventures with skillful appeals to the meaning of the human being and his future in life. history, a proposal that, like any classic, reaches readers, and now viewers, of each era in a different way.

Laura Birn as the robot Demerzel, another of the characters who changes gender in the adaptation.

Faced with the immensity of characters and situations, Goyer opted for condensation, for looking at some protagonists and mixing eras, situations, books.

It is not convenient to see the series comparing each line of script with the novels.

As in any good adaptation, it doesn't work that way.

The first season is a symbiosis of the first two works,

Foundation

and

Foundation and Empire

, but not only. The success of this production lies in its ability to launch those big questions that Asimov raised and integrate them into an effective television show and contemporary narrative. There, decisions about the cast also come into play. The science fiction of the time was a genre almost exclusively for men, and Asimov wrote a series with hardly any women - only one occupies a central place at the end of the trilogy, but we will not say more for not gutting it - something impossible to shoot in 2020 That a central character like Salvor Hardin (Lea Harvey) is a woman or that we enter the story through the gaze of Lou Llobel playing the mathematician Gaal Dornick are not whims.

Laura Birn plays the android Demerzel, another gender change from the books. It is a disturbing presence next to Emperor Cleon, one of the first robots of dawn (already present in

Prelude to the Foundation

, one of the prequels) and that connects with the entire robotic saga. His immortality and his inability to choose recall classic aspects of the most intellectual science fiction and is the best proof of the success of the creative team of the series when it comes to drinking in the entire Asimov universe. Rereading the books after watching the series, it was impossible not to have Jared Harris

(Chernobyl

,

Mad Men

,

The Crown)

in mind every time Hari Seldon was named. The British actor has done it again.

One of the few problems would be in a love story that is understood to be necessary to broaden the scope of the series, but that weighs down the rhythm a bit, on the other hand constant and with chapter ends that leave the viewer wanting more.

Leah Harvey in a scene from the first season of 'Foundation', which brings not a few mysterious elements to the plot.

The paths opened by the trilogy are fruitful and many remain unexplored or barely suggested. Religion used as a weapon of power, the confrontation of light and reason against superstition and the appearance of a powerful mutant that will challenge Seldon's predictions ––The Mule, perhaps the best character in the series, the axis in Around which the second and part of the third installment revolves–– these are just some of the ingredients that have been left out. The master of psychohistory has a plan (and readers of the novels will see some little clue this season) that at this point is not even glimpsed and that takes place in

Second Foundation

, the title that closes the trilogy, the deepest and most complete of the three.

There is a lot of material to go on with a series that goes beyond the genre-addicted audience.

Apple TV + does not confirm that there will be a second season.

Goyer smiles every time he is asked about it and adds that he proposed to the platform to shoot eight seasons, 80 episodes, and that he has the narrative arc and the development of the characters ready.

Everyone was looking for an heir to

Game of Thrones

and he was still in outer space.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2021-09-27

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