An Experience of Ender’s Game

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The movie Ender’s Game came out over the weekend and a lot of people went to see it.  I was one of them.  Like many people I considered boycotting it based on the controversy that has arisen over the views of Orson Scott Card, the man who wrote the book the movie is based on.  It has been a hot topic on many spheres of the internet over the past few months, but the films success seems to suggest that the mainstream audiences have not taken that much notice of it.  I would like to take a moment to talk about the movie and my own experience as someone who used to read Orson Scott Card’s work.

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Ender’s Game tells the story of Andrew “Ender” Wiggin.  In the future the Earth was attacked by a race of insectoid aliens.  Humanity fought off the first invasion and the world banded together to build an army of genius children that could defeat the aliens in the next war.  Ender is the commander that the International Fleet has been working to produce but before he can lead he is subjected to intense training and sometimes brutal psychological tests to prepare him.

Ender’s Game is a pretty good movie but it does differ from the book in a number of ways.  The book deals a lot with Ender’s individual issues of isolation and loneliness.  The movie does not have time to go into these things in as much detail but manages to show the dynamic between the kids and the adults manipulating them.  Some of the kids bond with each other in rejection of the adult manipulations while others try to gain approval from the adults by turning on each other.  In the book Ender’s brother and sister, Peter and Valentine had their own character arcs that don’t make it into the movie, it is unfortunate but I can understand why it happened.  Of the performances the ones that stand out most to me were Asa Butterfield and Hailee Steinfeld as Ender and Petra.  The two of them had great chemistry on screen, in fact it was almost too good, in most of their scenes together they look like they might start making out at any moment.  If there is one great flaw in this movie it is the ending.  The movie ends pretty much the same way the book did but once we reach the final revelation its like the movie can’t wait to rush us to the credits.  There are a lot of elements from the ending of the book that could have added to the atmosphere of the finale that get dropped.  Honestly just a few extra lines of dialogue in the final scenes could have added some of the missing emotional impact.

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I have talked about the movie now I would like to take some time to talk about what the book Ender’s Game means to me and my own opinion of author Orson Scott Card.

Ender’s Game is not just a book to me.  I did not like to read when I was a kid.  It was not until I was in junior high that I learned that I could enjoy reading a book.  Ender’s Game was one of the first books I enjoyed reading, but it was still not just a book that I enjoyed reading.  Ender’s Game was the book that made me want to read more.  I was soon reading the rest of the Ender series and of course I wanted to meet the author who had written them.  Orson Scott Card came to my local bookstore twice over the next few years.  At this time I was unaware of his more extreme conservative social views, it would not be until a few years later that people began to take more notice of them.  Card seemed like a reasonable intelligent person at the time but I walked away feeling like I should be more impressed with the author of a story that had such an impact on me.  At some point I came to a realization.  Card has not said anything political whatsoever but the way he answered certain questions made one thing clear, this man did not speak for me.  I could not put my finger on it at the time but I was sure that there was something fundamentally different about his view of the world and my own.  Orson Scott Card has written many more books over the years but I have not read them and at some point he stopped getting invited to my area for book signings.

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The book Ender’s Game still has a special place in my collection and my heart even if I no longer hold its author in a position of esteem.  It was not until I started reading about the early production of the movie that I learned about Orson Scott Card’s anti gay marriage stance.  I knew he and I had different world views but I have to admit I was not expecting that from him.  But unlike many fans I did not feel betrayed because I never let myself believe that Card was on my side.  I considered not going to see Ender’s Game the movie for all the reasons people have called for.  But in the end I did see it because I still love the story more than I dislike the man who wrote it.  I know that will not be good enough for some people.  To be honest I still feel kind of awkward about it and all of these images of Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield awkwardly looking at each other perfectly describes how I feel.  By the way all of these images can be found on the movie’s official website.

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