Sunday, January 14, 2007

Adaptation ...

... Novels That Are Impossible To Film.


  1. THe thing is, withh Photoshop and digital CGI techniques in film now, I don't think this is true for all of that list anymore. The genuinely unfilmmable novel is the long, discursive, poetic novel, that would have to be a 14-hour miniseries rather than a single film.

    I never thought anyone would be able to make The Lord of the Rings into a film, and I was pleasantly surprised at the high quality of those films. Of course, I have the extended-cut DVDs, which I think are closer to the books, too, simply because of fitting more stuff in.

    I also was impressed with "Snow Falling On Cedars," in which I thought they did a remarkable job capturing the contemplative poetry of the original book. It was a very lyrical novel, and the style of the movie really works well. So, I was pleased.

    But I will grant the overall difficulty of adaptation. I'm heavily into film, though, I admit. The bottom line that literary types have to remember about film adaptations: films are a separate media type, with their own timing and poetry and necessary pacing and editing. So, no novel will ever be TOTALLY adaptable; there will always be alterations. On the other hand, again, some of those classic TV miniseries did an excellent job. I'm thinking in paricular of "Shogun" and some of that ilk; the original "Bourne Identity" miniseries; "The Thorn Birds;" etc. Gee. Sounds like Richard Chamberlain's resumé, ennit?

  2. I've long embraced the view that to make a really good movie, you need a second rate novel. That's my beef with Merchant Ivory: they have so much to cram in, that they will always be defeated, and wind up sounding like an inferior classroom visual aid. Take "Gone with the Wind," or "Wizard of Oz," or, God help us, "Bridges of Madison County," and you have some possibilities. You could call it the "Masterpiece Theatre" problem: for all the Victorian doorstops that they brought to the screen, they never really improved on Galsworthy's eminentlky forgettable "Forsyte Saga."