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hasselbrad
04-10-2007, 02:07 PM
Not in the Darwinist sense of the word, but the adaptation of literary works to the big screen. It's always interesting to see characters come alive in a film. Of course, there are so many elements that go into character development that are beyond the control of the novelist once their work is adapted.
What are some of your favorites?
Which ones were unmitigated disasters?

I'll start us off with Forrest Gump. A pretty good book turned into an excellent film. Of course, some of Forrest's adventures were left out (if you can believe it) of the film, but all in all, it was an excellent adaptation. Tom Hanks and Gary Sinise were absolutely amazing. I read the book while in college because Winston Groom (the author) was from Alabama and spoke at the University, and they played the characters exactly as they were written. Gump's innocence and Lt. Dan's bitterness were perfectly portrayed.

Grisham's work translates well to the screen, simply because his books read a bit like screenplays anyway. That said, Surviving Christmas falls into the unmitigated disaster category. The movie didn't have nearly the humor that the book did. To make it worse, Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis were utterly miscast. I can't really think of who I would have had play the roles, but they certainly weren't it.

Hazzle
04-10-2007, 05:07 PM
Grisham's works I definitely agree with, and yeah, it's his writing style. To an extent I think he's actually adapted his style as time's gone on because The Client wasn't the best and as time's gone on his work's been more suitable to adaptation. Having said that The Chamber was a great book and an AWFUL film although I blame the casting.

The first two Spidermen movies (yeah, I know, people will say comics aren't "literary works" but fuck em, they're wrong) were great adaptations but the third showed why a director must never let his own personal tastes interfere with the works. As a fan of the comic books Raimi was totally the right guy to bring them to life on the big screen but as a big Sandman fan he should never have been allowed to make a film with that particular character in it.

He made the film into a big Sandman love-fest at the expense of Venom, a character so popular with fans that he ended up getting his own successful comic book series. Not only that but he changed "Canon" to make Sandman more interesting (I won't spoil it for people who still haven't seen it) by creating a link between Sandman and Peter Parker that never existed.

Likewise Lord of The Rings was botched by a director who was so intent on "selling" his native New Zealand to tourists that he forgot he was meant to be making a film with substance, not just pretty shots. He made too many changes to the story and in doing so lost all the subtlety that the books had, turning it into yet another "epic" summer blockbuster with nothing to differentiate it from the rest. Tolkien has been criticised for being sexist and yet instead of staying true to that, challenging the viewers to ask themselves if that's a true analysis, he opted to add "girl power" into it to brush the controversy under the carpet. None of the complex questions about industrialisation or the effects of war were asked because he removed those key portions of the book. What was left was an incredibly pretty (and admittedly it did look good) film that lacked any real substance.

Porcelain_Doll
04-10-2007, 06:46 PM
No comment on the Spidey movies, I'm not into comics. I loved how they butchered (and are butchering) the Harry Potter books. The kids were somewhat nicely cast, sure, the "castle" was nicely made, and the first movie was sort of sweet with the all "yer a wizard, Harry".
But that's about it. The different directors have inserted ridiculous lines and scenes, mercilessly killed any possibly interesting speech or explanation (admit it, some of that shit was cleverly thought up, not the spell's names, mind you, but that woman's imaginative), changed certain characters' personalities to best fit their script, and (this I won't forget) cast amazing actors to play minute roles. Gary Oldman and Emma Thompson reduced to blubbering crazy people with three lines each? Kenneth Branagh as an egocentric halfwit with the gayest hairstyle ever releasing silly computer-made pixies? Gimme a break and bother to at least read the books before shooting.
And please don't get me started on adaptations for Dracula and The Phantom of the Opera...yes, I'm obsessed with the latter, but in its BOOK version! The music was (in most movies) very nice, but the acting painful and the plot (not to say the main character) modified a piacere. Eeek.
Soprano doesn't equal great actress....

As for excellent film adaptations, Pride and Prejudice is among my favs. I could barely get through the book, I find Jane Austen incredibly tedious (sorry, Elle) but I loved that the movie retained the book's essence (and sometimes exact phrases!) while making it fresh and lively.
Another one would have to be Perfume. I didn't adore the book, but it was very good and very hard to take to the screen, it had lots of olfactory images. The director did an amazing job and so did the actors (except Rachel Hurd-Wood...her character was supposed to just sit there and look pretty, but someone made the mistake of giving her a few lines).

Leonie
05-10-2007, 10:42 AM
I'm not much of a movie buff, but I love the adaptation of Little Women (the 1994 version with Winona Ryder, not the oldie one). To me, the movie captures the spirit and the atmosphere of the book very well. In addition, I found all the characters very close to Louisa May Alcott's originals.

Also love Pride & Prejudice with Keira. I never much liked the BBC adaption, simply because Jennifer Ehle seemed too old to play Elizabeth, and Colin Firth, bless his fantastic actory socks, just isn't sexy.

I don't mind the Harry Potter adaptations. With books like these, it would be completely humanly impossible to adapt them faithfully, or even half-faithfully. The plots from the original books are so twisty and turny that there just isn't time, which means things inevitably are changed. If you go into the movies with that mindset, and just enjoy them as works in their own right, instead of a direct adaptation, I find them quite enjoyable. That said, I haven't yet seen the last one. For movies with child-actors, however, I find that they've always at least captured the Rowling-esque spirit of Harry Potter.

frodo1511
05-10-2007, 11:18 AM
Likewise Lord of The Rings was botched by a director who was so intent on "selling" his native New Zealand to tourists that he forgot he was meant to be making a film with substance, not just pretty shots. He made too many changes to the story and in doing so lost all the subtlety that the books had, turning it into yet another "epic" summer blockbuster with nothing to differentiate it from the rest. Tolkien has been criticised for being sexist and yet instead of staying true to that, challenging the viewers to ask themselves if that's a true analysis, he opted to add "girl power" into it to brush the controversy under the carpet. None of the complex questions about industrialisation or the effects of war were asked because he removed those key portions of the book. What was left was an incredibly pretty (and admittedly it did look good) film that lacked any real substance.


That being said, LotR is still my favorite trilogy of all time.

Hazzle
05-10-2007, 12:23 PM
That being said, LotR is still my favorite trilogy of all time.

Yeah, as a devout Tolkein fan from childhood it was hard for me to seperate the films from the "adaptation" aspect. I've been told to try and view them again and think of them as independent works bearing no connection to Tolkein and see if that improves my enjoyment of them. My favourite trilogy has to be the Aliens trilogy. Oooh...or Die Hard! Nothing beats Die Hard.

duckula
05-10-2007, 12:46 PM
Pride and Prejudice is excellent, as is Ang Lee's Sense & Sensibility.

Hunt for the Red October is the only good adaptation of a Clancy book and an endlessly rewatchable movie to boot. The ones with Harrison Ford are decent but avoid Sum of All Fears (this one shit the bed despite a good cast).

Little Women was pretty good but honestly not a patch on the books (Winona Ryder's presence soothed the pain).

My personal favourite is The Princess Bride.

Leonie
05-10-2007, 12:59 PM
I suppose that what helped my Little Women experience that I saw the movie before I'd read the book. The book has much more than the movie ever will, but I feel that what's been left out hasn't significantly altered the feel of the book, or the storyline.

frodo1511
05-10-2007, 01:07 PM
Yeah, as a devout Tolkein fan from childhood it was hard for me to seperate the films from the "adaptation" aspect. I've been told to try and view them again and think of them as independent works bearing no connection to Tolkein and see if that improves my enjoyment of them.



I keep telling myself to do that with the Harry Potter films, but it just doesn't work for me...I nit-pick those films to death, even pointing out in the theater what's missing or wrong (to the angry remarks of kiddies and parents telling me to stfu).


Though I just finished the book over the summer, I really enjoyed The Shining to no end even after noticing how different Kubrick decided to portray Jack Torrance as opposed to how King created him.
Too bad the hedge animals were not in the film...and the hand...God, that made me cry in fear at night...

Jacoby
05-10-2007, 06:01 PM
I'd have to say the best adaptation that I've seen/read would be One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. One of my favorite books, and I was surprised how well the film stood up to it. Obviously the movie was missing a lot, like all of Bromdon's backstory. But it was such a good film.

Actually, I just changed my mind on that...mid-post. My favorite adaptation would have to be Stir of Echoes. It was a Richard Matheson short story, and it's the only time I've liked a movie version better than a novel or novella. They kept all the great atmospheric parts, and they changed and added some content but it was actually really cool what they added. Like if you guys have seen it...the whole "DIG" thing at the dream movie theatre was added later.

American Splendor was a great movie as well, though it's hard to describe it as an adaptation. I say that because they refer to the graphic novels constantly and even show the real Harvey compared to Paul Giamatti's character.

What Dreams May Come is probably my least favorite adaptation. The book was so incredible...and the movie was so lackluster. It's not even really that bad of a movie...it's just that the book meant so much to me I was almost offended sitting there and watching this version of it.


And also, I must say the movie Adaptation is one of my favorites... Charlie Kaufman was supposed to adapt the book The Orchid Thief, but found it too hard so he just made up a crazy movie about him trying to make the movie...and it's such a good movie.

frodo1511
05-10-2007, 09:22 PM
Matheson...I'm reading I Am Legend right now. Great book, and I hope Will Smith and co. do it justice.

Jacoby
06-10-2007, 02:33 AM
Matheson...I'm reading I Am Legend right now. Great book, and I hope Will Smith and co. do it justice.

Probably not. It might be a good movie but it seems like all it has in common with the book is the name.

frodo1511
06-10-2007, 04:16 AM
I seriously doubt it'll be as thrilling or suspenseful as the book. I pray I'm wrong.

kingdumbass
06-10-2007, 05:34 AM
The best adaptation I know of is The English Patient....
I was actually a bit let down by the book, which I read after having seen the film.