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Amanshu*
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Mon 25th Feb '08 4:17PM
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If you look over here you'll see Diziet and my reviews of I am Legend. Now this is a film that is, in theory, based on a book. The two only really share a title, a premise and a character name now, but once upon a time the film was probably based upon the book.

Now I am Legend is pretty unusual since it only contains one character for the majority of the story. There are others in the flashbacks and there are one or two minor characters that pop up, but basically it's just one guy for the entire story. This means that the book is very internal to him which means on film it would all have to be voice-over based. I don't think it would work and it really needed to change - at least enough to give him someone to talk to.

I assume all the other changes have reasons as well. The result is a film that is nothing like the book it was based upon. At the other end of the spectrum is the Princess Bride, a film which I'd say is the most faithful adaption of a book I've ever seen. Most of the dialogue in the film is taken from the book.

In between is a spectrum of films that try to varying degrees to translate a book into something that works on the screen. I suppose you could even include films based on comic books since they are trying to capture a character on the silver screen.

I was wondering what level of inter-play between the two people liked. Do you want a film to be strictly faithful to a book, or does it ruin the idea you've built up in your head? Do you use films as an advert for a book and then use the book to flesh out what you already know? Can the film and the book even be compared in a fair manner or should they instead be considered to completely separate entities with only the loosest association? And is it fair for a film to be advertised as an adaption of a book when it's a completely different entity?
   

Diziet
optical moose
Mon 25th Feb '08 4:29PM
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ooh, i like this.

i'd prefer a film adaptation to remain as faithful to the book as humanly possible because (as you may have noticed in my review) i can be very precious about stories i truly love. that said, there are some adaptations which veer away from the book but remain very good stories on their own (can't think of any examples at the moment. will insert some later) but i don't mind those because they don't mean as much to me as I Am Legend.

if someone was to make a film adaptation of Use of Weapons, for example, and screwed it up i'd probably storm the production company offices.

as an aside, not wanting to detract from the discussion, I Am Legend was such a different story because it languished in Production Hell for many, many years. its gone through loads of producers, directors, scriptwriters and casting changes that ultimately the original story has been mutated into the steaming travesty still playing at a GoogolPlex near you. it should NOT have been called I Am Legend, it should have been called I Am Will Smith.

General*
Windows Bob - the best!
Mon 25th Feb '08 5:56PM
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It's a very good question, but not one that you can really answer and I don't think Hollywood have an answer either.
The first few Harry Potter films were slavish overlong adaptations of the books and got a kicking from the critics for being bad films. A later one (the third?) was made more as a film based on the book and got much better reviews, but I know a few people whose kids hated them because it doesn't follow the book to the letter.
Ultimately they are going to look at the popularity of the source vs. the likely popularity of the film and make a judgement based on the crossover. With Narnia, LOTR, or Harry Potter they realise that most people watching are familiar with the text, but for something like 300 or I am Legend they know that 99% of people who see it won't have read it and therefore will only care if it is a good film.
It's worth remembering that some films are take small liberties with the text and end up all the better for them for example Stardust or LOTR.

I also think there several ways in which you can be unfaithful to the book. The first is to change the emphasis or setting etc and the second is to change the nature of events and they are both quite different things.
In Baz Lurmans Romeo and Juliet they are relatively faithful to the story and plot, but completely maul the setting. Similarly High Fidelity is very faithful to the book, but it is set in a different country.
Conversely in the Bourne Identity the setting is quite faithful, but the plot goes 180 degrees from the book. Scarface is set in a different time, city and focuses on Drugs rather than Drink, but there is still a worthwhile link between the story being told.
There are some situations however where the plot of the film gets so far from the book that you have to wonder why they still named it after the text in the first place. An obvious one that springs to mind is the Lawnmower Man which actually features no computers in the Stephen King short story and is about 5 pages long!
In some cases I suppose that they want to get the extra bums on seats from the power of the name, but with I am Legend that makes no sense at all because it isn't all that popular a book and the earlier slightly more faithful film was called "The Omega Man".
    

Amanshu*
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Tue 26th Feb '08 12:03PM
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General was bold enough to comment:
It's a very good question, but not one that you can really answer and I don't think Hollywood have an answer either.



Every question can be answered - just not necessarily correctly... Besides, it's the attempt at answering questions that can't be answered that brought us such interesting things as Chaos, String Theory, Quantum Mechanics and the Roof of the Sistine Chapel.

In terms of films into books - well I do expect some sort of correlation between a book and a film. To me a story is much more about development and insight than it is about a plot. As long as roughly the same development and insight are made along the way then I'm happy.

What this means in terms of a film adaption is actually pretty hard to define. I enjoyed both the book and the film of I am Legend in completely different ways. I just don't think the film can be said to be based on I am Legend in the first place since it didn't have the same story or plot as the book. I'd suggest that calling the film that is really false advertising. I'd also suggest that I am Legend might not be a popular book, but it is a well known one and a lot of people would see the film as a good excuse to see what it is like.

Films that take the story and plot of a book and transpose it to another place such as Romeo + Juliet and High Fidelity are still true to the essence of their source material. They're simply creating a new take on it to the original. Which might even help more people get what the book was all about. Equally in the latest round of films Spiderman had the origins of his powers completely changed and MJ was rolled up into an amalgam of his different girlfriends. The essence of who these people were however was still very true (i.e. PP is an idiot and MJ is waaay too good for him).

I'm not really sure how this relates to the original questions I asked (hence why I asked them) but I'll generally use the film as an advert for a book I think. I'll also try to watch adaptations of things I really like twice - once to see the film of the book and once to see a good film.

And I do get rather annoyed if the book and the film have a completely different story.
   

General*
Windows Bob - the best!
Tue 26th Feb '08 12:15PM
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Amanshu was bold enough to comment:

Every question can be answered - just not necessarily correctly... Besides, it's the attempt at answering questions that can't be answered that brought us such interesting things as Chaos, String Theory, Quantum Mechanics and the Roof of the Sistine Chapel.




I never said that it wasn't worth discussing simply that there is no one approach that can be said to be universally applicable. it can only be considered on a case by case basis.

I just remembered Perfume is a great example of a faithful film adaptation of a book which happens primarily in the head of one person often in solitude, so such a thing can be done (though possibly not in a Will Smith led action film!)
    

Emo Squid
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Thu 28th Feb '08 12:18PM
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General was bold enough to comment:

.... there is no one approach that can be said to be universally applicable.



All the best questions arrive this outcome!!!

I think 'The War of The Worlds' by H.G Wells (1898) is quite a good example of the, err, question in question.
Both of the most well-known (film, not musical) adaptations (1953 and Speilberg's 2005) of this book have told very different stories, with various key elements of the original plot included in each and various key elements omitted.

The book has a constant theme of religion running through it, yet Wells was an evolutionist. In the book, Wells explores the ideas of social Darwinism and challenges mankind's superiority complex. The 1953 adaptation portrays the author's thoughts on religion through the characters of Matthew and Sylvia. The pastor, Matthew, confronts a 'fighting machine' face-to-face armed only with a bible and a few well-known quotes from it. He is killed instantly and Sylvia, his niece, is left grief-stricken.
Sylvia admits to seeking solace from religion in times of despair. She is descovered by the films protagonist doing just that; sheltering with others in a church at a time when mankind is facing destruction. The film resolves with a summerised passage from the book about how we were ultimately saved not by technology, but by 'God's tiniest creations' which He put on the earth 'in his infinite wisdom'.

This whole theme is omitted from Spielberg's adaptation. Why? Well, there are many reasons, but they all relate to the audience. In the 50's, people were altogether more God-fearing, so keeping this element of the book was a good way to shock people. Similarly, America had just won the war for us (), so the futility of the US Army's latest and greatist - a British/German invention, the atomic bomb - against the martians was another good way to engage the audience.
A common and effective (if a little irritating) plot device used by Spielberg is the innocence of children, I wont give specific references because if you've seen the majority of his films, you'll know what I mean. Spielberg's adaptation extracts the more 'action' elements of the original plot and weaves them into ideas that are more relevant to today's social climate. Mention children in danger, engage the audience. It's not just newspapers that employ this tactic.

There are many other examples, such as the red weed, but I can't be arsed typing anymore!

EDIT: Ohh! One thing I forgot that I really wanted to mention: the book is set in the first person, both adaptations I've mentioned are not!

Incidentally, there was another adaptaion released in 2005 that follows the book almost to the letter and is 3 hours long, but it wasn't released in the EU because of copyright. I hear it's quite shit.

I really don't like Will Smith, so I wont be watching the film. I do like the idea of the story though, so i may read the book.

Diziet
optical moose
Thu 28th Feb '08 12:37PM
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Emo Squid was bold enough to comment:

I do like the idea of the story though, so i may read the book.



i'll lend it to you next time you come round. its marvelous.

perspective is a good point. one film adapatation which i think is amazingly true to the source material is One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. the book is a first person narrative from the perspective of the chief. the film is from no particular perspective but still manages to retain all the wonderful aspects of the book.

Spanners*
Misses his big brother :(
Thu 28th Feb '08 2:15PM
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I think in many cases artistic 'leaps' have to be taken - as you said when there is a large amount of internal monologue in the book, also where there is a lot of action and special effects requirements.
I think the thing that bothers me most about film adaptation is when they try to stick to the original plot but end up leaving out about half the story. The Shining is a good example of this - fantastic film but the book has so much more to it.

Talking of films that seem to share the name alone, have any of you read the book of The Running Man by Stephen King? It's fantastic but absolutely nothing like the film.

There are some fabulous Shakespeare adaptations out there. Romeo Must Die is marvellous as is 10 Things I Hate About You (which is supposed to be an adaptation of The Tempest but seems more like The Taming of the Shrew to me)
    

Amanshu*
Giggity Giggity goo
Thu 28th Feb '08 6:29PM
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Spanners was bold enough to comment:
10 Things I Hate About You (which is supposed to be an adaptation of The Tempest but seems more like The Taming of the Shrew to me)



Errr... it is an adaption of The Taming of the Shrew. It's why the title is so similar (okay it's not even remotely, but they tried...), and a number of the names are so similar.
   

Diziet
optical moose
Thu 28th Feb '08 7:50PM
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the forbidden planet is based on the tempest.

General*
Windows Bob - the best!
Thu 28th Feb '08 9:57PM
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7th Apr '03


Spanners was bold enough to comment:

I think the thing that bothers me most about film adaptation is when they try to stick to the original plot but end up leaving out about half the story. The Shining is a good example of this - fantastic film but the book has so much more to it.



Just to show that one mans meat is another mans poison I thought the book was an average horror, but the film is one of my all time favourites.
   

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