If you are into uncomfortable situations and double-meaning storytelling, breaking down society on its base level through a series of relative mishaps and misunderstandings, and distilling the general human condition to single-paned riffs on how life is complex and simple all at once, then The Far Side was definitely your comic strip jam. But as well as it worked on the printed page and the laughs it could generate from even the most mundane of ideas, would it have worked as a feature-length, live-action movie? Someone certainly thought so at one point. And now we have some images from when there was a test run at The Far Side film which are making the rounds on Twitter.
The images of a potential The Far Side live-action movie came from actor Dirk Blocker’s Twitter account. He shared some set photos of a test run a few folks did in what was an attempt to translate the comic book series into something like a film with an actual narrative story. Check out what part of their original vision might have looked like in what he calls a “test” to see if there was anything to be mined in terms of on-screen visuals.
You can see from Blocker’s limited pictures that The Far Side live-action movie would have likely been a ridiculous venture, meant to be very silly especially in terms of the actual character put up on the screen. It’s very cartoon-like in the approach, but having some of the mainstay “characters” from the original script including the gentleman on safari as well as the massive hairdo housewife from the original strip. These weren’t synonymous with Larson’s creation but readers of the strip can almost picture them popping off the page.
Ultimately, a The Far Side movie never ended up going anywhere, which isn’t really all the surprising. For as funny as the comic strip was over its many years in print, it’s well-known not for its character threads or stories, but rather its intensely acute and hilarious observational humor. Each strip is basically a one-off with a one-liner meant to capture the differences in expectation versus reality. The wasn’t the operating line, but it was for sure a general theme of the strip.
The Far Side ran for almost 16 years starting in 1979 and Gary Larson was able to capture, with hilariously genius ease what makes us human. Whether it was zebras waiting in line to get on Noah’s ark and finding out it was going to be alphabetical, gifted students pushing a door that said “pull”, or dinosaur extinction really coming from smoking cigarettes, Larson just nailed it each and every time.
It’s probably for the best The Far Side movie was never made. It almost certainly could never have captured the je ne sais quoi of what made the strip so perfect. Not all cartoons need to get their live-action day in the sun. But it is interesting to see that they actually gave it a try. Sometimes the best things are left on the cutting room floor though and that’s better for everyone involved.