In this 1 hour podcast, Sam Downie interviews Author and Novelist ACH Smith, who wrote the novels of LABYRINTH and THE DARK CRYSTAL movies, for THE JIM HENSON COMPANY.
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SAM DOWNIE MEETS ACH SMITH
ACH Smith is best-known as the novelist behind the two successful novelisations he did for The Jim Henson Company, The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. Thanks to the success of these movie’s, the first of those (The Dark Crystal) went to No. 3 on the New York Times bestseller list, but he’s especially fond of the latter (Labyrinth), with its humour derived from Monty Python’s Terry Jones and his witty screenplay.
ACH SMITH say’s this about writing the novelisation of Labyrinth:
Before writing Labyrinth I spent a day with Terry Jones, the scriptwriter, at his home in Peckham. He showed me a scene that had been dropped from the movie, for technical reasons. It was beautiful, and I restored it in the book. Henson did not object. When my final manuscripts had been approved, they went to the Henson office in New York for copy-editing – ‘translation into American,’ the editor called it. I spent many hours on transatlantic calls with her, working through The Dark Crystal. When it came to Labyrinth, a few years later, I suggested that it would save money (and be more fun for me) if they flew me to New York for the editing, and they did. I sat with the editor and a word-processor for a fortnight. We spent 90 minutes trying to translate Snakes and Ladders into a game that American kids would know about, and finally gave up. ‘They’ll just have to figure it out for themselves,’ she sighed.A.C.H. Smith
Labyrinth went on to become a cult classic of Jim Henson’s.
ABOUT ACH SMITH
ACH SMITH has published a dozen novels and novelisations, a few non-fiction books, some poetry, and had 20 plays and music-theatre pieces staged or televised. They are listed on Wikipedia, together with brief biographical notes. His latest memoir, Wordsmith, was published by the Redcliffe Press (Bristol) in May, 2012.
As a stage playwright Anthony’s most successful stage work (so far) has been Up the Feeder, Down the ‘Mouth, for the Bristol Old Vic in 1997, revived 2001. It played to 20,000 people. The Sunday Independent called it
a terrific show, The Guardian
a beautifully written script… This is theatre that matters, and The Observer
the most magical moment of the year.
In 2012, ACH Smith’s latest work is a Tom Stoppard-based musical that he’s written with the composer David Lyon called, Albert’s Bridge. It is looking for an enterprising company to produce it. See www.albertsbridgemusical.co.uk.
For more information, visit the ACH SMITH website here – http://www.achsmith.co.uk
——— from Wikipedia ———–
Labyrinth is a 1986 British-American fantasy film directed by Jim Henson, produced by George Lucas and based upon conceptual designs by Brian Froud. The film stars David Bowie as Jareth and Jennifer Connelly as Sarah. The plot revolves around Sarah’s quest to reach the center of an enormous otherworldly maze to rescue her infant brother Toby, who has been kidnapped by Jareth, the Goblin King. With the exception of Bowie and Connelly, most of the significant characters in the film are played by puppets produced by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.
Labyrinth started as a collaboration between Jim Henson and Brian Froud, with ideas for the film first being discussed between them following a screening of their previous collaboration, The Dark Crystal. Terry Jones from Monty Python wrote the first draft of the film’s script early in 1984, drawing on Brian Froud’s sketches for inspiration. Various other script-writers, including Laura Phillips (who had previously written several episodes of Fraggle Rock), George Lucas, and Elaine May, subsequently re-wrote and made additions to the screenplay, although Jones received the film’s sole screen-writing credit. Labyrinth was shot on location in Upper Nyack, Piermont and Haverstraw in New York, and at Elstree Studios and West Wycombe Park in the United Kingdom.
The New York Times reported that Labyrinth had a budget of $25 million. Labyrinth was a box office disappointment and only grossed $12,729,917 during its U.S theatrical run. The commercial failure of the film demoralized Henson to the extent that his son Brian Henson remembered the time of the film’s release as one of the most difficult periods of his father’s career. It would be the last feature film directed by Henson before his death in 1990.
Although it was met with a mixed critical response upon its original release in the summer of 1986, Labyrinth has since gained a strong cult following.