Friday, October 4, 2013

Hook vs. Hook

It's hardly a secret by now that I gnash my teeth over portrayals of Captain Hook that clash with the original by J.M. Barrie (possibly I need a bumper sticker that reads "Barrie is my co-pilot.") And ABC television's "Once Upon a Time" has provided rant fodder for me in general for its fast-and-loose handling of classic stories. When the show added Captain Hook to its roster (well after I had started The Stowaway), my objections suddenly became more personal.

The TV Hook is Captain Hook in, er, name and hook only. And actually not even in name. Somehow on the way to the small screen, Captain Hook became Killian Jones. (Admittedly, if he turns out to be related to Davy Jones of "locker" renown, I will applaud a job well done.) I've accepted that--for the most part. But the more I watch--and I feel compelled to watch just so I know what's being put out there--the more I think OUaT's Captain Hook is actually Long John Silver.

Robert Newton as Long John Silver with Bobby Driscoll as Jim Hawkins in the 1950 film of Treasure Island.

Bobby Driscoll was also the voice of Peter Pan in the 1953 animated Peter Pan. Around we go again...

Both John Silver and Killian Jones form alliances as they are convenient and betray them just as easily. Witness how easily Jones changes his alliances with Regina and her mother Cora, depending on who seems to have the upper hand on him or can most benefit him, as Long John Silver did with the officers and crew of the Hispaniola. And both repeatedly face capture and betrayal themselves, which the original Captain Hook would have found too embarrassing to endure.

Silver murders one of the sailors he recruited to his mutiny with apparently no remorse, and Jones both steals Aurora's heart and shoots her, showing no regret about either. James Hook is described as murdering out of temper (and, I argue, sometimes that reaction could be considered justified), but not for manipulation.

Colin O'Donoghue's Hook with Dylan Schmid as Baelfire, the son of Hook's beloved Milah.

Most significantly, perhaps, Jones and Silver have a fatherly side which is completely absent in James Hook. Silver's mentorship and eventual protection of Jim Hawkins are the only demonstration that there is more to the man than duplicity and greed. Jones craves a fatherly relationship with Bae even to the point of sailing to retrieve Bae's son Henry from Neverland, a place Jones swore he would never return.

By comparison, James Hook's relationship with children can be summed up as follows.

F. D. Bedford, 1911

I wonder often if the writers of OUaT have a good knowledge of their source material and are using it as a starting point, or if they genuinely have only the barest conception of their characters' origins. Given that this is a Disney property and all the characters have been featured in Disney films, I'm going to go with the first and hope I'm right. It baffles me sometimes, though, how far afield they go from the original conceptions. I suppose my concern is that people without background in fairy tale lore will take these as the final word, and not be open to other interpretations--including those which are written with the utmost concern for keeping to the spirit and word of the original. It's personal, in other words.

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