Before we dive into anything else Outlander related within this story, let’s start off with a celebration. We’re just a month away from the premiere! Obviously that’s when the magic is truly going to happen, and we’ve got big plans here at CarterMatt for when the show is on the air. At some point between now and September 10, we’re going to come up with a schedule-of-sorts as to when certain articles are going to be published here — right now, we’re planning to have reviews, episode previews, analysis pieces, ratings updates, and sneak-peek breakdowns. Lots of good stuff, and hopefully some interviews mixed in there as well.
Now, let’s get into the meat of this article, especially since it does so heavily pertain to the premiere episode and the depiction of the Battle of Culloden — something that you get a small sense of in the photo above. This is obviously a turning point in history, but it also marks a significant departure when it comes to the Diana Gabaldon source material with the novel Voyager. The show is going to throw use directly into the battle, whereas the books did more to give fans a sense of the pain and suffering that came about as a result of it.
As Gabaldon herself noted in response to a Facebook comment, distinction between the source material and the show lies in perspective and also in some of the limitations that come with a more visual form of media like television:
“[Ronald D. Moore and the team] couldn’t reasonably do a long first scene of the first episode in Jamie’s head, with a long voiceover (and a blank reddish screen) talking about Purgatory. So they did it differently. Also–I chose not to have the reader live through the Battle of Culloden (for a lot of reasons, the main one being that by only referring to it–repeatedly, in small flashbacks and stories–and by showing the horrible effects of it, that let the reader encompass it as the massive tragedy it was, and add layers to it as more is revealed). To “show” the battle in a book would mean either pulling back into an “authorial” voice and describing it–never good; no impact–or to “live” through it in the viewpoint of one or a few people. That’s vivid (or can be), but it’s limited, and my point was to tell the story in such a way that the true horror of the battle would be remembered, not one person’s experience.). Ron wanted to live through the battle, and because of the way visual media works, it’s possible to switch rapidly among multiple viewpoints and overviews, in a way that you really can’t do effectively in text.
“There’s nothing righter or wronger about the two depictions; I’m just saying they’re different. You’ll recognize Jamie’s experience, though, which is the important thing.”
There are probably mixed reactions out there to the changes, just as there are any time that something is changed from the source material to screen — it doesn’t matter if you’re talking about Outlander or anything else. Our sentiment over this topic has remained the same over the years: If you want to replicate the experience of the book, read the book again. TV shows and movies based on books are often (when done properly) trying to recreate the essence of the source material as opposed to the actual words on the page. Sometimes, things may need to change in order to bring that spirit to life. Writers are not often writing thinking “how will this look on TV?” — it’s more about them telling the best story that they can for the readers within that medium. Moore and the Outlander team have shown through two seasons that they can tell a beautiful story in their own medium; hopefully, they’re managing to appeal to both book readers and show viewers alike. (We obviously cannot speak for every person out there and we have never made it a secret that we have not read the books.)
Want some other Outlander news?
If you missed it, we suggest that you head over here for some further insight — including a breakdown of some of the new promotional stills of the show. (Photo: Starz.)
Want more TV news? Then sign up for the CarterMatt Newsletter!