“I never see a novel as a film while I'm writing it. Mostly because novels and films are so different, and I'm such an internal novelist.”
–Alice Hoffman, successful novelist and screenwriter whose book Practical Magic was made into a movie.
It’s common to say that most movies made from books are never as good their souces. From the earliest days of cinema, however, adaptation has been nearly as common as the development of original screenplays. Why is it so hard to do well?
Questions of fidelity to the book always come up. Erich Stroheim proved in his 1926 sixteen-hour original cut of his adaptation of Frank Norris's novel Greed that it's impossible to film a whole book. (By the way, the final two-hour cut mandated by the studio is described as "entirely incoherent.")
Change in adaptation is essential and practically unavoidable, but how much? Some film theorists have argued that a director should be entirely unconcerned with the source, as a novel is a novel, while a film is a film—the two works of art must be seen as separate entities. Since a transcription of a novel into film is impossible, even holding up a goal of "accuracy" is absurd. Others argue that what a film adaptation does is change to fit (literally, adapt), and the film must be accurate to either the novel's effect (aesthetics), theme, or message, and that any changes the filmmaker must introduce have to adhere to at least one of these.
This week, we'd like you to blog about your favorite adaptation of a film from a book. What made it work? What was kept, and what had to be jettisoned?
We'll choose one of these blog posts to feature on Red Room's homepage next week. A few selected bloggers will receive books by Red Room authors. Susan Orlean's book The Orchid Thief was made, sort of, into a film (Adaptation) about the art of adapting a book into a film. Her newest book is the funny children's book, Lazy Little Loafers, about an older sister what babies are good for. Alice Hoffman's newest novel, The Red Garden, "is a transforming glimpse into small town America, presenting us with three hundred years of passion, dark secrets, loyalty and redemption."
So post a blog entry today about Red Room's topic of the week
"favorite movie from a book"
For help on how to blog, please see the directions here. We'll choose one of these blog posts to be featured on Red Room's homepage next week. Post your entry by Friday at 10:30 a.m. PST (GMT-08:00) for consideration, and be sure to tag it with the keyword term "favorite movie from a book" in the Blog Keyword Tags field so we can find it. (Please don't forget the tag. For more information about tags, click here.) And be sure to browse last week's non profit blogs. From a local shelter for women in crisis to a cutting-edge Indian environmental science N.G.O., Red Roomers were passionate about spreading the world about groups who make a difference.
Thanks for blogging!
–Huntington W. Sharp, Senior Editor, Red Room