How much should new stories change what we knew about old stories?
Sometimes a story builds off of a previous story. It’s not exactly a sequel. It’s not a retcon. It just adds details to a previous story, so that what we thought we knew was not the whole story — and the whole story is different than the conclusions that we originally drew. Afterlives: Bastion is such a story, one that gives new details that change an old story.
A famous book that became popular with this tactic is the novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, by Gregory Maguire. This inspired the musical, Wicked. The villain from The Wizard of Oz was given a name and a backstory, had her death turned into a tragedy, and saw Glinda turned into less of a good witch. This told a new story, tied back into a previous story, and effectively made the audience look at the events there in a new way.
This type of storytelling has two effects. First, it can have a lot of power. It pulls from the memory. It takes events and emotions already embedded, brings them up, and builds on what is established. This can recall nostalgia as well as the original feelings. Changing and building on top of that adds impact to the new story.
The other effect, though, is ruining the original story. As a child, if you cheered the death of the villain and now find out they were not the villain but fought for the people, then you were against the people. Maybe you were terrified of a monster and rested easy knowing the monster was wiped out. Now you learn that the monster didn’t die, that what you thought killed it only made it stronger. Your fear could return. Sometimes it is best to leave the story as it was. People need the monster to just die.
Shadowlands is about the past. About the dead. This first animated short is only the beginning, and the past will keep being brought back. Stories resurrected. And it appears some will be changed.
The question is, how much should they be changed? Sometimes it is for the better. Sometimes we can experience more from characters that we love. Sometimes, The End was a good ending.
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