Everyone, it’s time I weigh in on the rumors that have been sweeping the country, yea, even the planet. So much so that it’s hard to even pay attention to the latest mass shootings, or to the epidemic of sexual harassment accusations, or to the playground-fights between a couple of certain weird-haired, psychopathic world leaders (“Well, you’re a fat poophead dictator!” “Oh, yeah? Well, you’re an old fat smelly imperialist double-poophead!” “Oh, really? Well, you’re a double-fat, ugly, stinky, ring-faced, triple-poophead!” On and on until the quarelling is at last put to rest by global thermonuclear war).
By rumors, I’m referring of course to the claims, of hazy origin, that the storyline of my book The Language of Bears was pilfered and made into a movie called The Valley of Gwanji. For those of you not familiar with this film, it features James Franciscus (of television’s action show Longstreet, in which he played a blind insurance agent; Bruce Lee appeared several times in the now-forgotten program, but I digress).
Franciscus plays a turn-of-the-century cowboy who, by way of following a midget horse, locates a hidden valley filled with dinosaurs, including a vicious tyrannosaur named Gwanji. The movie is brimming with memorable, if preposterous, scenes, including one wherein Franciscus single-handedly wrestles a pteranodon.
In regards to the rumors now going apeshit viral claiming that the makers of The Valley of Gwanji plagiarized the storyline for their movie from my novel The Language of Bears, I will offer that, while I guess in this crazy thing called life no one can say with absolute 100 percent certainty whether anything is really, really true or false, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and propose that The Valley of Gwanji was not based on my novel.
- The Valley of Gwanji was made in 1969, when I was still a small child. I hadn’t even thought about the story which eventually became The Language of Bears until about ten years ago.
- The Valley of Gwanji‘s premise is to do with dinosaur-hunting for profit, with the aid of a mysterious gypsy and tiny horses. The Language of Bears is about a mysterious land that resembles, sort of, Puritan New England of the 17th Century, with little perks to spice things up, like a touching farmboy-meets-towngirl romance, mammoth apples and talking mice, and possesses overarching themes of the origins of science in competition with religious dogma, and capitalistic versus socialistic beliefs of the European settlers, and the birth and demise of America. There are, I admit, some superficial similarities here: historical settings, exoticism, peculiarly sized organic life, etc., but the specifics are quite different.
- I hate James Franciscus. No special reason. His face just makes me queasy. Something about the shellacked, tinsel-colored hair, the ruler-straight, glowing teeth, and the hyper-manly protuberant chin (not really relevant to the question at hand, but I felt like saying it).
- The Valley of Gwanji has never, to my knowledge been available for 99 cents on Amazon, the way The Language of Bears is. At this very moment! And will be for only another two days! (but only for residents of the U.S. and the U.K.)
I hope this convinces the doubters out there that similarities between The Valley of Gwanji and The Language of Bears are quite sparse and the former was not in any way based on the latter, despite the relentless Breitbart articles saying otherwise.