Why I’ll Watch Ender’s Game Three Times this Weekend

This is–too a large degree–off topic of what I usually like to comment on this blog. (Not that I’ve been writing much lately anyway.)

But I feel compelled to share with anyone willing to read the deep rooted reasons I’ll spend nearly forty dollars this weekend to see the film adaption of Ender’s Game in theaters.

I love the book. It was a life changer for me. Ender’s story fascinated me as an eleven year old; even though I didn’t understand the nuances of the story until later in my life, I’ve realized in hindsight that even as young as I was I understood issues of morality, mortality, and isolation embedded in the story. Card’s science-fiction classic was my catalyst for my modern day love of books and storytelling. It is partially to blame for me becoming an educator. Although it is unfortunate that Card’s personal life and outspoken political and religious beliefs have come to the forefront in recent years, they do not change my love of the characters he created. As misguided as some of his personal beliefs may be, Card still managed to weave a tale that questions everything from war to the ethics of psychological study and childhood trauma. For that at least, I’m thankful. I do not expect the movie to live up to my years imagining Ender’s world and experiences;  I am now old enough to understand that it would be foolish to think that it should. So when I see Ender’s Game for the first time tonight, I will enter the theater with the anticipation of a young boy who loves great adventures and storytelling–not as a rigid, curmudgeoned fanboy whose every fancy must be satisfied. I hope to fall in love with the story all over again just in a different way. I will be watching this movie at least once for the child in me.

I’m lucky enough to know one of the actors in the movie personally. He has a small role; a role that was actually changed from the book, I think, to avoid the negative connotations associated with the character’s name. He is now a freshmen at the University of Georgia, but I’ve been lucky enough to be part of his life partially as a mentor since he was a freshman in high school. He’s been acting in small roles in lower budget movies most of his youth, so when he told me excitedly one day that he had landed a role with a movie starring Harrison Ford, I immediately thought to ask him if he landed a role in Ender’s Game. You see I follow movie news closely, and I already knew that Harrison Ford had accepted a role in the movie and even that they would be filming in Louisiana. Putting two and two together, it was easy to see that he was about to be part of something very special. What I still find humorous to this day about our dialog about him being selected for a part is that he was surprised I had heard of it; as it turned out, my young friend hadn’t ever read the novel himself. As you can imagine, the conversation that ensued was entertaining and a tad intense as I relayed my passion for the story, its impact on me, and how he desperately needed to read the book for himself as soon as possible. Needless to say he picked up a copy fairly quickly. I recall fondly the many talks we had about the book and then later about his time in production. I even came quite close to joining him on set for a week, but alas it wasn’t to be. If I’m being honest, it has been exciting having some inside information and living out the film making process vicariously through him. I will be watching this movie at least twice for my love and support of my young friend. (If you’re reading this buddy, I’m proud of you!)

Finally, I will see this movie at least three times this weekend for the connections this story has forged with me and countless number of my friends and former students. A feeling of utter joy resides in my body today knowing that this weekend so many of these wonderful people in my life will re-experience Ender’s story with me.

Even with these three views, I will see the movie at least one more time after this weekend with my dad–the man who handed me the book when I was eleven. We’ve both been waiting a small lifetime to see Ender’s story be told in this way, and my experience will not be complete until I’m sitting next to the man who handed me the story that changed my life.

So say what you will about the author; I make no excuses for him, but nothing short of the apocalypse will keep me from experiencing Ender’s world come to life right in front of me with people I love.

This weekend remember, “The enemy’s gate is down”

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