Your Humble Blogger has never been particularly interested in watching filmed versions of Discworld books. I know there are a few of them, and they are presumably available, and I haven’t bothered. Much of the fun is in the writing, with the notes at the bottom of the page and all, and I don’t think that a good cast would make up for missing those jokes. As I was rereading Monstrous Regiment recently, though, I was thinking that it might be fun on film. Since the main running joke of the thing is that—
Um, spoiler, right? If you haven’t read the book and think you might enjoy reading it and that the putative enjoyment would be better if you were surprised by the surprisey bits, then perhaps not so much reading this note. OK?
Anyway. The main running joke of the thing is that practically all the men in the thing turn out to be women in drag. There are a few men dressed as men, and (at least) one man dressed as a woman, but almost the whole character list are men who turn out to be women. Which is the sort of thing that would be funny on film. It often is.
In, then, musing over the possible cast choices, it occurred to me that a company would have some difficult choices to make. The main cast should all be played by women, I think—Polly, of course, and Tonker and Shufti and and Wazzer and Lofty. I would think that Igorina and Maledicta and Jade should be played by women, I suppose, depending on how much they are going to be actually visible. If they are almost totally animated, then they could be voiced by anyone who can do the voice well, right? But what about the rest of them? I was thinking particularly of General Froc and the rest of the brass, which are the sort of part where you really want to get some extremely well-known person doing a cameo. But an extremely well-known woman would be obviously a woman in drag, and that might ruin the surprise; and an extremely well-known man would obviously not be a woman in drag, and that might ruin the joke. Or you could disguise the celebrities under so much latex that they are completely unrecognizeable, which might ruin the cameos. And of course you could forgo the cameos, which would make the scene much less amusing.
And then, well, then there’s the Sarge. Sargeant Jackrum, who may well be the devil in disguise, and who is (a) one of those stout fellows who is an almost perfectly spherical mass of muscle, and (2) the last and final person to be revealed to be a woman in drag. Well almost the last. The last that’s a surprise plot point, anyway. In a filmed version, probably the actual last. But at any rate, the Sarge is a huge character throughout the story, and even after it turns out that every single man in the whole thing is a woman in drag, it’s still a good scene when we discover that—to our surprise—the Sarge is a woman in drag. So who plays the Sarge, and how do we handle that?
My initial inclination was to have Dawn French play the Sarge and give up on the semi-surprise at the end. My second inclination was to have Robbie Coltrane play the Sarge and trust his acting ability to make the reveal work for the audience. My third inclination is to… I haven’t had a third inclination yet.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,