The announcement of the day is that Universal and Nintendo are working together to adapt the video game franchise The Legend of Zelda to the big screen. This exclusive is giving a lot to talk about, and after the success of Super Mario Bros., it seems that Illumination -the animation studio within Universal- will have the arduous task of printing this mythical saga on the audiovisual.
Nowadays, with Tears of the Kingdom kicking off and Breath of the Wild so recently, there’s no one who doesn’t know The Legend of Zelda. That’s why it seems to be the perfect time to make a movie of the brand, and animation seems to be a good way to do it. However, anyone who thinks that adapting Zelda to film is easy is very wrong, even if it has been tried before.
To prevent Universal from running up against an almost impossible adaptation, we leave you with five key points to keep in mind when making this film. Of course, it seems that they will have to eat a lot of coconut to get it right.
1 – There is no single Zelda story: one must choose wisely
Obviously, the most important thing about this saga is that there is no single story to tell. With an impossible to follow timeline and dozens of points of view from aesthetics to narrative, the most important thing will be what story or what kind of story they want to tell in the film.
The most obvious to go well could be Ocarina of Time, mythical game of the saga of classic cut and with all kinds of backbone elements of what has come after. They could also go for something more traditional, taking into account their first games, or even try the current world of Breath of the Wild -spoiler: it goes wrong-. With the Dragon Quest movie they went for the fifth title and it worked, so it will be a matter of choosing the best option… or inventing something new with everything in mind.
Although the latter is more likely, it would certainly be interesting to see a movie adapting even more alternative games, such as Majora’s Mask. Be that as it may, this will surely be left for a possible sequel or spin-off.
2 – Freedom is the key to the game: how can you adapt?
One of the key points of The Legend of Zelda is the feeling of freedom that the player has from minute one. Since we take the controls we can choose which path to follow, and that is something that has always marked the titles of the franchise. But how can this be adapted?
Far from a Black Mirror: Bandersnatch-like experiment, perhaps it’s all in the aesthetics. Open landscapes, Studio Ghibli-esque bucolic landscapes and small stories intertwined in a main plot can make The Legend of Zelda movie minimally faithful to the spirit of the game.
3 – Will Link talk?
Link, the protagonist of each Zelda, has as a special feature that he does not speak. However, this is more something for the player -again, freedom: Link’s words are the user’s own- than for the story. So yes; to make a good movie, the protagonist will have to speak, as Mario did in his movie.
Now, this means giving the character a personality. As much as we have played a lot with Link, he doesn’t have a very defined way of being, and this is essential. If he’s too much of a hero, he’ll lose his faery essence. If he’s too goofy, he won’t be taken seriously. In the balance will be the magic.
4 – Zelda’s role: not a princess in trouble
Another more than necessary point to discuss is Zelda’s relevance in the movie. Although in the games she doesn’t appear as much as the protagonist, her evolution in most of them is incredible, and she is clearly not the princess in distress as she was originally conceived.
Thus, they will have to play well with the character and know what role to make her take. Perhaps, like Peach, they will have to exploit her warrior side… but Zelda’s magic lies in much more than that. She is a special being, and it must be clear from minute one.
5 – Challenge over combat
Finally, it’s clear that action will be key, but we all agree that in games the challenge of temples and other challenges is much more important than combat per se. That’s why, in the movie, it wouldn’t make sense for everything to be combat-based: we want Link to eat his brains as players always do.
This point will also be essential in the evolution of the story. A facile script to get by is not enough: the solutions to the challenges have to be original, and above all at the height of a hero like Link.
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