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Thread: What do you want from a movie adaptation of a novel/play?

  1. #1
    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    What do you want from a movie adaptation of a novel/play?

    When a book is made into a film, what do you hope to get from watching that film?

  2. #2
    Asa Nisi Masa mayneverhave's Avatar
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    What i expect from any film: quality. There is no reason why a film adaptation of a book has to stay faithful to the plot or qualities of the book, because often times what makes a good book does not translate well into a film - the same way a film adapted from someone's life is not required to remain true to that person's life.

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    Card-carrying Medievalist Lokasenna's Avatar
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    It needs to capture the spirit of the novel - something infrequently managed. I know that's a rather intangible quality, but nonetheless it has to be my personal benchmark.

    One exception is Atonement, principally because the film fails to emulate the irritating pretentiousness of the novel, and therefore works much better.
    "I should only believe in a God that would know how to dance. And when I saw my devil, I found him serious, thorough, profound, solemn: he was the spirit of gravity- through him all things fall. Not by wrath, but by laughter, do we slay. Come, let us slay the spirit of gravity!" - Nietzsche

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    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    I agree with the above and would add one of my hobby-horses: it needs to be right.

    What do I mean by that?

    Despite indeed it being difficult to have things happen as they do in the book, because you are dealing with another medium (tv mini-series is different to thewritten book and you are stuck with the weather on location, or ewxtreme weather displayed symbolically in the book, where it is really oo extreme (like Jane Eyre adn the sudde Christmas frost in the middle of the summer); film is even shorter so there is less time in which you have to give the same impression; a play is altogether different: you can exaggerate things that do not work on film as that is more natural, but you even have less time than for a film, and fewer possiblities because you are stuck in a hall, preferably on a stage), it is important that the changes you make are relevant (not changes for changes' sake) and do not violate any other part or character. That is sometimes where it goes wrong as some animals, activities and consorts have a certain symbolic meaning and changing it might put the character in a different light.

    Particularly making a short film seems to be tricky because the writer has to summarise certain parts. As he needs to do that, he needs to know bl**dy well what the character thinks/how it thinks, and that is where it goes mostly totally wrong. Characters mostly start to say things that are totally not true, about themselves or in the larger picture.

    With that, of course, they get the whole atmosphere wrong, mostly.
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'me ne se vide ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scne VII)

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    The successful dramatization of books are those .....

    which capture the essence of the book and follow the story line Some of these are :

    Lost Horizon
    Goodbye, Mr Chips
    Gone with the Wind
    Rebecca
    The Big Sleep
    The Maltese Falcon
    Great Expectations (directed by David Lean & starring John Mills as Pip)
    The Three Musketeers (1948 version with Gene Kelly and Lana Turner, all the rest are crap)
    All the King's Men (starring Broderick Crawford)

    There are a few fairly recent ones like the Age of Innocence. Most movie goers today are young people, and if the movie doesn't move as fast as a video game and have a lot of collisions, they wont sit through it. Also, Hollywood has never learned how to dramatize a long, complex book, but the Brits with Masterpiece theatre have even made Henry James exciting. The Golden Bowl, Turn of the Screw, and Wings of a Dove plus many more have been excellently done.

    When Alfred Hitchcock first came to the US, he was hired to direct Rebecca. He wanted to change things, but his contract stipulated he was to follow the suggestion of the producer, Darryl F. Zanuck. Zanuck wanted to follow the book closely. Hitchcock didn't like it, but did follow the book. The picture won an Academy Award for best picture.

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    Registered User Night_Lamp's Avatar
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    I agree on the comments about 'Atonement', and 'Goodbye Mr. Chips'.

    As some of you might have seen me mention in some of my other posts;
    'Brideshead Revisited' is one of my favorite 20th C. novels. I absolutely love the 1981 ITV adaption of the novel, but hate (did not mention HATE) the recent film.

    I understand that it's hard to compete with the space and breadth of a twelve hour mini-series, but the movie was so bad and so missed the theme: where is the Catholicism? The decay of the last-century aristocratic class structure in modern England?

    Although Charles and Sabastian's relationship is more like the kind of friendships that women have today, Brideshead is NOT a homosexual love story. There's a hint that there's more to their relationship, and Waugh himself says he had that kind of experience when he was at Eton, this is a small corner of the theme of the book.

    Cara herself says: "I know these romantic friendships of the English and the Germans; and I know that they're not latin..."

    I had high hopes when I saw the shots of Castle Howard in the trailers: I thought that some of the beauty and art of the BBC adaption might be there for a new generation- But I got up and left when Charles and Sabastian kissed- I'm not homophobic, but Hollywood has raped one of my favorite books for a generation addicted to shock value and violence.

    How could the Waugh estate approve this?

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    Cool I have read the book and viewed the movie, in fact I've read ...

    most of Waugh's fiction and viewed all of the movies including Sword of Honor staring James Bond. The Brit TV series of Brideshead was superb. If the movie was a Hollywood production, it was doomed from the beginning. The only Waugh novel Hollywood could cope with was The Loved One. Brideshead was beyond the capabilities of Hollywood.

    The only excellent adaptation of a well known book I've seen come out of Hollywood in the somewhat recent past, was the Fowles' novel, the French Lieutenant's Woman. I think the screenplay was by Edward Albee. The movie was not a commercial success.

  8. #8
    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Night_Lamp View Post
    I agree on the comments about 'Atonement', and 'Goodbye Mr. Chips'.

    As some of you might have seen me mention in some of my other posts;
    'Brideshead Revisited' is one of my favorite 20th C. novels. I absolutely love the 1981 ITV adaption of the novel, but hate (did not mention HATE) the recent film.

    I understand that it's hard to compete with the space and breadth of a twelve hour mini-series, but the movie was so bad and so missed the theme: where is the Catholicism? The decay of the last-century aristocratic class structure in modern England?

    Although Charles and Sabastian's relationship is more like the kind of friendships that women have today, Brideshead is NOT a homosexual love story. There's a hint that there's more to their relationship, and Waugh himself says he had that kind of experience when he was at Eton, this is a small corner of the theme of the book.
    I agree about Brideshead. Yes, Charles is infatuated with the family but the film doesn't show why. Charles is more in love with the archictecture and what the family represent, not because he wants to make his way around the family Flyte.

  9. #9
    Registered User Night_Lamp's Avatar
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    Thank you for your replies about my thoughts on Brideshead.

    I agree about French Lieutenant's Woman being such a great adaption. Fowles' novel is meta-fiction: fiction about fiction; so the film was a movie about movie-making. BRILLIANT!

    Did we intend to go from one Jeremy Irons movie to another, or is this just a coincidence? He's a fantastic actor.

  10. #10
    Registered User Emil Miller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Night_Lamp View Post
    I agree on the comments about 'Atonement', and 'Goodbye Mr. Chips'.

    As some of you might have seen me mention in some of my other posts;
    'Brideshead Revisited' is one of my favorite 20th C. novels. I absolutely love the 1981 ITV adaption of the novel, but hate (did not mention HATE) the recent film.

    I understand that it's hard to compete with the space and breadth of a twelve hour mini-series, but the movie was so bad and so missed the theme: where is the Catholicism? The decay of the last-century aristocratic class structure in modern England?

    Although Charles and Sabastian's relationship is more like the kind of friendships that women have today, Brideshead is NOT a homosexual love story. There's a hint that there's more to their relationship, and Waugh himself says he had that kind of experience when he was at Eton, this is a small corner of the theme of the book.

    Cara herself says: "I know these romantic friendships of the English and the Germans; and I know that they're not latin..."

    I had high hopes when I saw the shots of Castle Howard in the trailers: I thought that some of the beauty and art of the BBC adaption might be there for a new generation- But I got up and left when Charles and Sabastian kissed- I'm not homophobic, but Hollywood has raped one of my favorite books for a generation addicted to shock value and violence.

    How could the Waugh estate approve this?
    As Paula Byrne shows in her recent biography of Waugh, he didn't go to Eton but to Lancing, a less prestigeous public school. It was at Oxford that he fell in with a crowd of Old Etonians, some of whom were role models for Brideshead Revisited. However, the novel massively tones down the homosexual behaviour of the group, who were grossly promiscuous and profligate. Some of them were from wealthy aristocratic families and for whatever reasons they were at Oxford, learning doesn't seem to have been one of them.
    The Flyte family is based on the Lygon's whose father was banished from the UK for homosexual acts with footmen whom he hired for that purpose.
    If shock value is required fare for today's generation, then Hollywood would probably make a good stab at the real story behind Brideshead. .
    Last edited by Emil Miller; 10-09-2009 at 07:59 AM.

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