Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Great Adaptations

A couple of weeks back, on the back of the debate about the best film-from-book adaptations of all time, the Guardian featured several articles on the subject. I know that some of you are film-makers or film-maker-wannabe's, so forgive me for taking so long to post the links.

Screenwriter Deborah Moggach talks about the process of moving a story from page to screen:
Adaptation has to be both brutal and tender. You have to be brutal, to turn the noun into the verb. You have to reassemble the story, as a film. To find a strong narrative you might have to jettison characters, pull a comb through the dialogue, create new dialogue, conflate scenes, create new scenes, radically reorganise the story. But this must be done in a spirit of love, which means keeping faith with the spirit of the original story. This is not the same thing as being retentive.
Peter Bradshaw argues that some of the best films have come not from novels, but from short stories:
There are distinct advantages to working from a short story that are not available when you are translating a novel. There is not the same quart-in-a-pint-pot problem; the screenwriter need not feel the headachey compression of material, or the need to axe characters and storylines without which the novel works logically, but loses much of the flavour which made it attractive in the first place. A short story is a platform, a challenge, a coiled spring of potential.
Elsewhere, Andrew Pulver looks at the tricky question of casting, Suzie Steiner considers the movie-tie-in book cover, and Giles Foden considers the books which have never made it to screen.

Which begs a couple of questions: which books do you think would be impossible to film, and which hitherto unfilmed books would you like to see made into movies?

Related Posts:

The Film of the Book (12/9/05)
Best Film Adapatations? (21/1/06)


The Eternal Wanderer said...

I've gone for a press screening of The Da Vinci Code this morning. I must say, I had acually prefered watching the movie than reading the book, which I find to be a rather tedious read for all it's in-depth research and detailed facts.

The pacing of the film was good, although there's not much of a chemistry between the two leads. The best has to be Sir Ian McKellen's character, which I loved most.

But anyways, nt really much of a Dan Brown fan, but I will admit he is a darn good storyteller!

So, will this movie be one of the greatest adaptations ever made? It has potential but definitely not on my list of Top 20 book-to-film adaptations of all time.

Heh, just my 2cents worth.

Jane Sunshine said...

Impossible to film: Midnight's Children, One Hundred Years of Solitude. I will be disappointed no matter what.

Books I would love to be seen made into films: Writers hitherto unexplored by film makers, especially the heart rending works by African writers like Chinua Achebe and Ngugi wa Thiongo (I particularly like Grain of Wheat)

The Visitor said...


Nads said...

Hello, long-time lurker, first-time commenter (was always intimidated by the intellectual content of this blog- not that it's gotten any more plebeian or anyhing)

Anyway, I would actually like to see a film version of Midnight's Children- have always gotten a sort of film-y feel from Rushdie's books. Failing which, either The Moor's Last Sigh or the wonderful Haroun and the Sea of Stories? The latter possibly as an animated movie. I suspect however, that like Jane Sunshine, I would be horribly disappointed. And quite agree on One Hundred Years of Solitude- that would be sacrilege.

The one book I would like to see as a movie and which I think would possibly be film-able is A Suitable Boy. It's always striked me as a particularly Bollywood-y type of book, although perhaps they could do away with the interminable song scenes set in the Swiss Alps.

Anonymous said...

Wanderer, if Dan Brown was a good storyteller you wouldn't have found his books tedious. The movie works because the scriptwriters are better writers than him. DB is a good scholar and researcher, but he can't spin a yarn to save his life.

Any book can be made into a movie. All you have to do is change the medium. Novels and movies are the same, both are entertainment. If you want to turn a book into a movie, all you have to do is convert from one medium to another. Whether it will be a success or not, is another matter altogether.

bibliobibuli said...

eternal wanderer - i'm looking forward to seeing the film actually ... next week sometime with a big carton of popcorn ... who's coming? i think i will enjoy the movie far more than the book

jane sunshine - yes, i don't think anyone could capture the sweep of midnight's children or 100 years of solitude

things fall apart would make excellent film material ... but would a mainstream film company ever want to take on an african story?

visitor - the wasp factory, but how to keep the element of surprise?

nads - hell and welcome, lurker no more - the moor's last sigh would be fun ... a suitable boy is so wonderful, and i think would be filmable ... but oh, the length of it ... maybe you'd need a miniseries? and the delight of the book is the huge cast of characters ...

btw - you must reads hari kunzru';s transmission if you haven't already ... if ever a book were bollywood ...

anon - Any book can be made into a movie. All you have to do is change the medium. there you are then, maybe your true calling is in hollywood?

madcap machinist said...

I disagree with anon. who says that any book can be made into a movie -- some just defies translation.

Just dropped by to mention I, Robot by Alex Proyas starring Will Smith. The movie is based on short stories by Isaac Asimov, taking the different elements and themes from Asimov's stories. Being an avid Asimov reader, I had high expectations of the film and was not disappointed. An excellent film -- if you're into sci-fi.

bibliobibuli said...

i read "i, robot" decades ago ... loved asimov but haven't revisited since ...