July 7, 2003 · Lessig
Eric Hughes sent me a great piece about The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which will be released this Friday. As he points out, every character in the movie (which the ads call “the most innovative film of the summer,” and “when our future is at stake, they will be our last hope”) is a character in the public domain. As WALT Disney before (and as Disney, Inc has apparently forgotten now), the creators of this movie have used the public domain to produce creative new work. For those who defend the idea of (effectively) perpetual copyright: Do you think there would be more of these works if there were a gaggle of rights holders to clear permissions with?
Here is Eric’s list of characters, with the caveat that this is a work in progress. Send corrections to me.
The movie is based on a wonderful comic by Alan Moore, the best comics author alive. I had read the original a few years ago, but now there’s a film out. So I got curious about where Allan Moore got all the extraordinary gentlemen from. Here’s the list.
Allan Quatermain: A character from H. Rider Haggard stories, the most famous of which is King Solomon’s Mines, 1885. There’s an interesting profile at here. King Solomon’s Mines was written on a bet that he could write something better than Stevenson’s Treasure Island.
Thomas Sawyer: Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer, 1876. Huckleberry Finn came later. Character added for the movie; he’s evidently the only American.
Dr. Henry Jekyll / Mr. Edward Hyde: R. L. Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 1886.
Captain Nemo: Jules Verne, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, 1870.
Rodney Skinner. H. G. Wells, The Invisible Man, 1897. I have been unable to confirm whether this was the character’s name in the novel.
Dorian Gray. Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1890.
Mycroft Holmes. Arthur Conan Doyle, The Greek Interpreter, 1892. I’m not sure if this is the first appearance or not.
Mina Murray Harker. Bram Stoker, Dracula, 1897. Jonathan Harker’s wife.
UPDATE: Seth helpfully provides the following additional links (and some corrections above)
Annotations by Jess Nevins