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Saturday, February 07, 2015

Literary infidels

Scooter explains why movies so often part dramatic company from the story of the book upon which they are nominally based:
Poor Tolkien – he thought Hollywood just misperceived his intentions. What Hitchcock so frankly reveals is that filmmakers do not necessarily fail to apprehend ‘where the core of the original lies’; they aren’t even trying to apprehend it in the first place! By and large, they do not aim to be faithful. They are literary infidels – and they aren’t the only one.

Shakespeare famously borrowed plots — Hamlet was based on 12th century author Saxo Grammaticus’ Gesta Danorum (“Deeds of the Danes”). In Saxo’s version, Hamlet lives, and goes off to other adventures. Shakespeare, of course, opted for a slightly more downbeat ending.

‘Hey man’, an arrogant film director might say, ‘If Shakespeare borrowed plots and even changed them around too, what’s so wrong with that? Why can’t I add a little elf-dwarf romance to The Hobbit?’

First, because he is Shakespeare and you, Mr. Filmmaker, are not. Have a little humility. Yes, you can put your stamp on the material, just don’t stamp on it with your Orwellian boot; it’s not a face to be kicked in.

Second, because while in the process of adaptation you may end up borrowing plots, characters, and on rare occasions even the mysterious original ‘core’ of the material, what you are really wanting to borrow is the built-in fanbase of the book.
This is precisely why I have turned down multiple inquiries about acquiring the film options on my books. I have no interest in seeing Hollywood do its usual number on them. From Lloyd Alexander and Frank Herbert to Susan Cooper, CS Lewis, and JRR Tolkien, I have seen Hollywood repeatedly botch the translation and re-telling some of my most-cherished books. Whether it is small or large, I'm not going to let them borrow my base; if the visual editions are going to be made, then I will make them myself one day.

While I very much enjoyed seeing The Lord of the Rings and appreciated how Peter Jackson brought Middle Earth to visual life, I failed to place sufficient importance on was an observation of Spacebunny's concerning the way in which Jackson insisted on showing what Tolkien had only implied. That minor element only expanded over time, until Jackson's story entirely took over Tolkien's.

The one exception that merits being pointed out is A Game of Thrones, which despite its occasional flaws bids fair to surpass the books of A Song of Ice and Fire, perhaps as soon as this coming season. Of course, there GRR Martin appears to have done Hollywood the service of ruining his books in advance with his own sequels, so it could be a matter of a better choice of medium - the miniseries rather than the movies - or perhaps it is merely a matter of lowered expectations.

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84 Comments:

Blogger postmodern redneck February 07, 2015 8:45 AM  

I long ago reached the point where, if I like a book, I have no interest in seeing the movie. I have not bothered with Jackson's movies, or the various takes on Narnia. Movies work best on short-term, less complicated stories; complex stories that spread over a lengthy time span never work very well in film. And TV historically is even worse.

Blogger Hazim February 07, 2015 9:07 AM  

Watching "The Rum Diary" last night again, another example. Hunter S. Thompson was not a good novelist but the story was really good in a Gonzo kinda way, if you're into that sort of thing. For me, it would seem that another HST/Depp endeavor COULD NOT MISS. but it did. it did. Such a shame too, a waste of the perfect opportunity to use the film media to bring life to a great story that happened to be penned by someone who was better at journalism than novelization. It was apparent that they were just trying to borrow the HST fan base.

Anonymous McOxford February 07, 2015 9:19 AM  

You've reminded me of my first impressions, particularly of Gandalf and the way Jackson was quite explicit about his powers where as Tolkien was more suggestive. I bent every ear I could get at the time about how this limited the character, what could Jackson's Gandalf have done with the one ring? I'm afraid the answer could only have been giant laser beams.

Anonymous Mike M. February 07, 2015 9:21 AM  

Castalia House Films? Probably some profits there.

Blogger Cataline Sergius February 07, 2015 9:23 AM  

There is better news on the horizon for Game of Thrones.

The producers are now out original source material. Season 5 covers ALL of A Dance with Dragons.

There's no way that the producers of the most popular (and expensive) show currently on television can afford to wait around until the very last minute to start planning next season's shoot. Just assuming that this year goes the same as previous years, shooting for Season 6 will probably begin in the summer, either June or July. As we pointed out, this is a show with a huge cast and numerous exterior locations, and virtually every single shot has some kind of visual effect in it, even something as basic as adding castles and shit in the background so it looks like a fantasy realm of dragons and intrigue and not 21st-century rural Ireland. Just from a budget and scheduling standpoint, they have to know what roles need to be cast, what locations they're going to be using, which previous cast members will be returning and where they'll need to be and how long they'll need to be there. HBO simply cannot wait for Martin.


Anonymous Mike M. February 07, 2015 9:24 AM  

I'll add that Shakespeare didn't pass off his work as belonging to some other writer.

Peter Jackson did OK with The Fellowship of the Ring - but then could not resist the temptation to twist Tolkien, instead of editing to a filmable length.

Blogger Manveer Claire February 07, 2015 9:35 AM  

I watched a documentary where they discussed Tolkien and his inspirations for Lord of the Rings. The director and cast talked a lot about Environmentalism. How the Shire represented good old nature, basically the rainforest. But the Orcs and their lands were representative of industrialization, and how the evil industries sought to destroy the environment. There was not a single mention of Christianity in the entire documentary.

Anonymous jack February 07, 2015 9:59 AM  

@Vox then I will make them myself one day.

Well said. As the use of digital in and making movies [see Avatar] becomes more affordable and useable with high end workstations, you may well be able to make movies of your books.
I have no idea but my strategy would be to be totally faithful to the book regardless of length. I would almost kill for a movie, by you or a trusted film maker, of Throne of Bones. It might take 20 hours, or whatever. The marketing strategy might be to offer a theatrical length version; three hours? then/and/or the full length. Can you imagine? over 2 or 3 nights totally immersed in that world.

Popcorn and bourbon optional.

Blogger Cataline Sergius February 07, 2015 10:15 AM  

I think the most egregious example of artistic licence would have been, (if it had ever been filmed); Jodorowsky's version of Dune.

Frank Herbert was believe or not, (and according to Harlan Ellison) HAPPY with what David Lynch did to his book. Lynch himself was so disgusted with the end result, he took his name off the film. So why was Herbert happy?

Diminished expectations that's why.

He knew all too well what Alejandro Jodorowsky had been planning to do with his masterpiece. Lynch's version looked damned good by comparison.

Alejandro Jodorowsky's casting was 1970s psychedelic. He had commitments from;

Salvador Dali: Emperor Shaddam IV

David Carradine: Duke Leto

Mick Jagger: Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen

Gloria Swanson: Gaius Helen Mohiam

And Orson Wells as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (which I admit I would have paid to have seen.)

I'm certain you've seen the concept art over the years. Particularly Giger's Harkonnen Palace. It got a lot weirder from there.

Leto is a eunuch, having been castrated in the Atreides bullfighting arena. Jessica impregnates herself with a drop of Leto's blood. From there it gets weird. Skipping ahead through FOURTEEN HOURS of movie. Paul is killed by Feyd during their duel. Thus released from his body becomes a Universal Overmind Super Being inhabiting all people and all things.

Jodorowsky said out loud and on camera, that he was going to "rape Frank Herbert's work...But rape it with love."

Well at least it was going to be with love.

No wonder Frank Herbert was so happy with Lynch's weird crappy version of his book. Having spent ten years wandering in a Jodorowsky fever dream, the 1984 version of Dune had to have looked like a lovingly faithful adaptation of his work.

Even with Sting's winged codpiece.



Blogger JCclimber February 07, 2015 10:23 AM  

I asked David Brin once about his experience with "The Postman". It was pretty obvious he'd been asked before, but his answer was that Hollywood did a hatchet job on it, but it would still be interesting to see what could be done with some of his other works. He was cautious about any future collaboration, although his Star Wars book probably had the best shot at the time.

Blogger agraves February 07, 2015 10:25 AM  

Further examples of Hollywood draining the power out of films: "Rambo", on film Rambo and sheriff survive with Rambo saved by his former commander. In the novel Rambo has ptsd, has a beard and looks like a vagrant, both he and the sheriff die exhausted deaths at the end, with Rambo shot by his former commander. In the film "The Natural" our hero hits the homer at the end, sparks everywhere, in the novel he strikes out. I understand Malamud would not see the film version of his story.

Blogger JCclimber February 07, 2015 10:35 AM  

the only time I believe the movie surpassed the book was the original "Carrie".

Blogger Nate February 07, 2015 10:36 AM  

Hollywood added elf girl romance to the hobbit.... but Hollywood removed zombie Kate from GoT.

The latter is as much a blessing as the firmer is a curse

Anonymous Jill February 07, 2015 10:45 AM  

Didn't Scooter write the article? Scooter is such a funny name; it pops out at me.

Yeah, Hollywood. They make travesties of good stories. Somebody already mentioned The Postman. That one was....really bad.

Anonymous DavidKathome February 07, 2015 11:01 AM  

I think a big part of it really does come down to...First, because he is Shakespeare and you, Mr. Filmmaker, are not.

You have lesser talents trying to bring to life on screen the words of greater talents. I only thought Jackson did ok with the Lord of the Rings, too many needless changes even there. The financial success of the Hobbit movies means nothing is going to change anytime soon.

Blogger Vox February 07, 2015 11:03 AM  

Didn't Scooter write the article?

Yes, corrected, thanks.

Anonymous Susan February 07, 2015 11:08 AM  

Daniel was correct about Hitchcock. When Selznick signed him to do the movie Rebecca, The only thing Hitchcock would have used from the book was a big English estate, and the name of the book. Selznick had a real fight about staying true to the book at that time.
Selznick realized that the readers of both GWTW and Rebecca would have literally denuded the area above his shoulders if he would not have stuck to the books implicitly. So he did. As far as I know, Selznick was the only Hollywood director/producer who actually stood by the feelings of the readers of a book.

Blogger hank.jim February 07, 2015 11:09 AM  

Peter Jackson isn't merely Mr. Filmmaker. He is quite the artist. Nonetheless his version of Tolkien succeeded where others failed. Before then, the attempt to bring the works to film was haphazard and did not gain audience popularity. They were quietly buried. Frankly, the LOTR and Hobbit are good enough. Many say the latest The Gatsby is unneeded and unfilmable. The story was indeed changed somewhat. I felt it improved upon the other earlier adaption. Perhaps one day we should get a multi-year series adaption of the Hobbit leading to the LOTR. The true definitive adaption. Then again, just read the books.

Blogger John Wright February 07, 2015 11:13 AM  

I submit that the movie surpassed the book in two cases: THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ by L Frank Baum is actually his worst book in the series, whereas the movie is a masterpiece of the cinema. Likewise, A WINTER'S TALE by Helprin. The movie was exquisite, and the book nigh unreadable.

Anonymous Ha February 07, 2015 11:20 AM  

@Catiline

That version of Dune sounds awesome!

Anonymous buzzcut February 07, 2015 11:23 AM  

@John Wright

To that I would add THE WARRIORS by Sol Yurick.

Anonymous jack February 07, 2015 11:40 AM  

@John C. Wright:
I found Ben Hur unreadable but enjoyed the movie very much. Still have it; still watch it every two or three years.

Anonymous Biggie February 07, 2015 11:46 AM  

David Lynch did ok. He captured the weirdness like no one else could. Compare that to the utterly faithful yet sterile and heartless Sci-Fi mini series, I'll take Lynch anytime.

What Scooter fails to apprehend is that Shakespeare wasn't "Shakespeare" when he was borrowing and apparently mitigating plots. I mean come on Will, have some humility and respect for old Saxo the great!!!

Blogger VoodooJock February 07, 2015 12:00 PM  

It's the same with every remake. I hated the latest incarnation of Battlestar Galactica yet enjoyed the original.

Anonymous A. Nonymous February 07, 2015 12:02 PM  

David Lynch did ok. He captured the weirdness like no one else could. Compare that to the utterly faithful yet sterile and heartless Sci-Fi mini series, I'll take Lynch anytime.

He had Virginia Madsen as Princess Irulan, so there's that as well.

Anonymous Flannel Avenger February 07, 2015 12:15 PM  

I would have more tolerance for Hollywood changing stories around if they'd just go with a different title and say a story based on this book, or a retelling of, or whatever. If they want to borrow that's fine, just quit pretending you're making a film of the book.

Anonymous Morgan February 07, 2015 12:29 PM  

The movie THE VIKINGS is superior to Edison Marshall's THE VIKING. Marshall's novel is a bit rambling and slow at times. The movie had the good parts.

Blogger kurt9 February 07, 2015 12:38 PM  

This is why I usually despise movies made from novels.

Blogger kurt9 February 07, 2015 12:42 PM  

The really good film makers (Ridley Scott, etc.) try to copy the novel as much as possible. I have mixed feelings about David Lynch. I saw his "Dune" movie when it first came out and absolutely despised it. However, I've seen it several times over the years and have actually come to appreciate it. The key is to consider it a unique piece of art separate from the novels. In any case, a full-length novel of the complexity of "Dune" is essentially impossible to make into a movie. There are simply too many activities and nuances going on that cannot be translated into visual presentation. The best books to make into movies are 100 page "novellas" with lots of action in them.

OpenID cailcorishev February 07, 2015 12:44 PM  

Maybe there's a silver lining: at the current rate, it'll only be about a decade or two before someone else decides to "reboot" Jackson's version and crap all over it.

Anonymous Scooter February 07, 2015 12:52 PM  

"I mean come on Will, have some humility and respect for old Saxo the great!!!"

If slick Willy had optioned Saxo's Deed of the Danes, said his play was based on the book so as to capitalize on the legion of fans who loved Saxo's happy version, and then changed the happy ending in order to "put his stamp on't", then yeah..

"Just quit pretending you're making a film of the book."
I think film adaptations are often successful when they do just that - by updating the story to modern times. There's enough distance from the material that it's allowed to become its own thing and sometimes the choices are clever. They do this with Shakespeare a lot, Sherlock Holmes, snd most movies are some version of Seven Samurai. Of course, wouldnt work with Tolkien. They'd turn Middle Earth into the NYC club scene or something.

Anonymous Rolf February 07, 2015 12:59 PM  

Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers. *shudder*
Heck, pretty much any movie "adaptation" of a Heinlein work.

But a Castalia House version of The Stars Came Back? Yeah, I'd like to see that. I'd bet a lot of other people would, too.

Anonymous Culture War Draftee February 07, 2015 1:28 PM  

To a large extent, my reaction to an adaptation is based on my reaction to the book. Last of the Mohicans (Michael Mann) is far superior IMO than Last of the Mohicans by Cooper. But then I pretty much subscribe to Twain's opinion of Fenimore Cooper.

Elmore Leonard seems to have been well treated by movies & TV. 3:10 to Yuma and The Tall T are superb Westerns. Part of this is that Leonard had the stature to be involved in adaptations of his work. He wrote the script for Mr. Majestyk, and was EP on Justified.

I just look at movies as unique objects, utterly distinct from whatever they are adapting. View 'em on their own merits, disconnect from comparison to the original, they will only make you unhappy. If it's a crap movie, it's a crap movie. If it is a good one, it is good on its own merits, and resemblance to the original is not the first consideration. But I will cop to having been let down by so many adaptations. Conan 2011 anyone?

Anonymous soonertroll February 07, 2015 1:28 PM  

I thought the movie version of L.A. Confidential captured the story essence of James Ellroy's lengthy novel.
The Firm by John Grisham was a better movie then book.

Anonymous Scooter February 07, 2015 1:37 PM  

"Peter Jackson isn't merely Mr. Filmmaker. He is quite the artist."

I loved LOTR, and actually very much enjoyed the fan edit of the Hobbit. Some of the suspect writing choices that were minor in LOTR were given their full expression in The Hobbit.

Blogger Cataline Sergius February 07, 2015 1:37 PM  

@John Wright

There were also earlier versions of the Wizard of Oz that suffered, (rather badly in fact), from the direct involvement of L. Frank Baum himself.

There was the stage adaptation where the Scarecrow seemed worryingly fond of the Tin Woodsmen.

Then there was His Majesty The Scarecrow of Oz (1914). I'm not objecting to the production values, which were what you would expect in a 1914 film. The problem with that film was that Baum who wrote it, packed as much Oz lore as he possibly could into a two reeler. The result was visual gibberish and it was mostly L.Frank Baum's fault.

Blogger Shibes Meadow February 07, 2015 1:37 PM  

I liked Lynch's Dune, for different reasons than I liked the book. It's just... Weird. Which is a plus.

And so many quotable lines! "They tried and died." "My name... Is a killing word." "We have wormisign the likes of which even God has never seen." How could any movie with dialog like that be anything but a classic?

Blogger Torial February 07, 2015 1:52 PM  

Rolf - I would love to see a movie of the Stars Came Back, but I think Mike M.'s "Castalia House Film" captures a necessary prereq. Although a TV series would be even better!

Blogger Dudley Ingraham February 07, 2015 1:57 PM  

So many great books have been destroyed by Hollywoods film adaptations.

Anonymous Donn February 07, 2015 2:03 PM  

I'll just quote what I said earlier on another blog.

"Jackson ruins heroics because he cannot understand heroism. He ruins a fairy tale because his world lacks the deep magic. His villains are straight out of Scooby Doo. His special effects mere lights smoke and mirrors. His understanding of war and conflict as meaningless as Xena or Buffy.

Tolkien understood war, sacrifice, magic (as a storyteller and father), heroes and villains, hope and despair. Jackson lacks a deeper soul thats why he writes bad fan fiction and cartoon action."

Jackson had no respect for the source material because he has no respect for the greater part of Western Civilization that the book derived from and celebrated. Tolkien wrote strong and interesting characters in peril risking everything but that's not enough for the likes of Jackson. Tolkien wrote fantastic stories full of interest and wonder but since the stories were bounded in Western values and Christian morality, Jackson had to scrap all that for his cartoon scooby doo version.

Cartoon scooby doo zombies eating fingers in pudding? Yeah, Jackson's got that covered. The scion of ancient kings exercising the authority granted them from beyond the grave to raise an army from a tomb of dread? Well, we get the scooby doo fun house version again. Just to give one example.

Anonymous Donn February 07, 2015 2:07 PM  

Most movie makers have that same lack of respect.

OpenID cailcorishev February 07, 2015 2:22 PM  

Elmore Leonard seems to have been well treated by movies & TV.

Robert Parker's Jesse Stone novels have been done very well on TV with Tom Selleck. I think a lot of detective/thriller books already read much like a screenplay, with lots of dialogue and pages of detailed action that pass by much faster on screen. There's no need to change them much, so unless the producer is stupid or trying to make a point, he won't.

I saw and enjoyed The Name of the Rose before I read it, and was surprised to find the movie was a closer match than I expected, after hearing the director say on the commentary that his main interest in doing the film was for the architecture. It leaves out or simplifies a lot of the religious stuff for the sake of the viewers' ignorance, of course, and it had to tack on a happier ending, but it was pretty faithful. Even the seemingly gratuitous sex scene was right out of the book.

Anonymous Rhys February 07, 2015 2:39 PM  

Further examples of Hollywood draining the power out of films: "Rambo", on film Rambo and sheriff survive with Rambo saved by his former commander. In the novel Rambo has ptsd, has a beard and looks like a vagrant, both he and the sheriff die exhausted deaths at the end, with Rambo shot by his former commander.

Rambo was supposed to die in the film too but the ending was changed so they could have sequels.

the only time I believe the movie surpassed the book was the original "Carrie"

Uh, you'd be surprised what movies started as books that nobody remembers because the books were shit. Die Hard started as a novel.

As far as I know, Selznick was the only Hollywood director/producer who actually stood by the feelings of the readers of a book

Agreed. Selznick had already made Gone With the Wind and by sticking closely to the book he had made the best selling movie up to then. He knew what audiences wanted.

Anonymous Donn February 07, 2015 2:39 PM  

They should have filmed Justified in Kentucky. Southern California looks like Southern California. Or at least stick with Washington State like they did for some of the pilot. It's green there at least.

Anonymous Anonymous February 07, 2015 2:41 PM  

The adaption of sword of truth turned it into just another Zena warrior princess. Total destruction of the main story elements.

--hale

Blogger David-2 February 07, 2015 3:03 PM  

"The Omega Man" was so different from "I Am Legend" that it doesn't count in this discussion ... but having not yet read "Make Room! Make Room!" I'm wondering whether other commentators think "Soylent Green" improved on the book or not!

(For what it's worth I quite enjoy both movies, and give them both 4stars using Ebert's criteria where movies are compared to other movies for the same audience.)

OpenID cailcorishev February 07, 2015 3:23 PM  

Uh, you'd be surprised what movies started as books that nobody remembers because the books were shit.

Maybe it's better to start with a book that's not very good, so when the screenwriter or director inevitably thinks, "It'd be so much better if I added/removed this," he actually might be right.

Anonymous DT February 07, 2015 3:38 PM  

I enjoyed The Lord of the Rings trilogy and even the recent The Hobbit movies. But I went in thinking "this is only a work INSPIRED BY Tolkien's books." To ever imagine that it would be more faithful then that is naive.

I can see how one might enjoy the former but not the latter. The latter was far less Tolkien and more Jackson.

Anonymous DT February 07, 2015 3:43 PM  

Cartoon scooby doo zombies eating fingers in pudding? Yeah, Jackson's got that covered. The scion of ancient kings exercising the authority granted them from beyond the grave to raise an army from a tomb of dread? Well, we get the scooby doo fun house version again. Just to give one example.

Strange...that was one of my favorite sequences from the LOTR extended edition.

Blogger rycamor February 07, 2015 3:43 PM  

cailcorishev February 07, 2015 3:23 PM
Uh, you'd be surprised what movies started as books that nobody remembers because the books were shit.

Maybe it's better to start with a book that's not very good, so when the screenwriter or director inevitably thinks, "It'd be so much better if I added/removed this," he actually might be right.


I add to that list "The Firm" by John Grisham. Saw the movie on TV one night, and enjoyed it more than I thought I would. A few months later I read the book somewhere just because I was bored and it was lying around. The characters in the book were cardboard compared to the movie. Uninspired and unimaginative.

Blogger Bogey February 07, 2015 4:08 PM  

@John C Wright
Though I haven't read either of the novels Jaws or the Godfather were based on, I hear that the books pale in comparison to the movies.

The only thing Hitchcock would have used from the book was a big English estate, and the name of the book.

..and would have made another masterpiece. No living director is fit to shine Hitchcock's shoes.

Anonymous infidel February 07, 2015 4:08 PM  

Vox go big or go home.

Blogger MrNiceguy February 07, 2015 4:37 PM  

the only time I believe the movie surpassed the book was the original "Carrie"

For movies that people actually know were based on books, I'd include The Godfather, and Last of the Mohicans. I've also read that Chuck Palahniuk actually likes the ending of the movie version of "Fight Club" better than the ending in his book.

Uh, you'd be surprised what movies started as books that nobody remembers because the books were shit. Die Hard started as a novel.

I love seeing the look on people's faces when I tell them that "Shaft" was originally a novel. And then seeing an even better version of the same look when I mention that there's a sequel called "Shaft Among the Jews".

Anonymous kh123 February 07, 2015 4:42 PM  

"The really good film makers (Ridley Scott, etc.)"

BWAHAHAHA.

Here, I'll qualify that. The once good to decent directors like Ridley Scott, before his ear was constantly pulled by the producers off-screen.

And that'd be the generous assumption.

Anonymous kh123 February 07, 2015 4:53 PM  

...Regardless of how plodding or sh*tty either version may be, Friends of Eddie Coyle and No Country For Old Men are probably the most faithful book-to-movie translations out there.

The Human Condition and Burmese Harp are supposed to be faithful translations of books, one a 6 volume series and another a short children's story(!), though neither are available in English.

Have also heard the original Lonesome Dove TV series was spot-on with both the books and historical aspects, as was the movie Jeremiah Johnson (sans book).

OpenID malcolmthecynic February 07, 2015 4:56 PM  

Mr. Wright,

"The Godfather" is a superior film as well.

Anonymous Trimegistus February 07, 2015 5:34 PM  

Most faithful adaptation: probably Roman Polansky's _Rosemary's Baby_. He used whole blocks of dialog right from the book. Apparently he had never adapted a novel to film before and didn't know he was allowed to change anything.

Most impressive counterexample: _Blade Runner_. Totally changed the book and is a masterpiece of cinema.

OpenID malcolmthecynic February 07, 2015 5:54 PM  

They should have filmed Justified in Kentucky. Southern California looks like Southern California. Or at least stick with Washington State like they did for some of the pilot. It's green there at least.

They were going by a rule I learned in theater, when we all had to put on cockney accents. The rules is: You don't need top sound cockney. Your audience just needs to THINK you sound cockney.

Most folks who watch the show have never been to Kentucky (like me). Given that, I only learned quite recently it wasn't filmed there.

I freaking love "Justified". Easily the best show on TV right now. I'll take it over "Breaking Bad" every day of the week and twice on Sundays. This season has been outstanding so far.

Anonymous Steve February 07, 2015 5:54 PM  

Kubrick's The Shining is better than King's novel.

I'd love to see a film or TV adaption of "The Dark Tower", even though it would probably translate badly to video.

Blogger Manveer Claire February 07, 2015 5:59 PM  

Except the movie doesn't have silver slippers, representing silver and gold(the brick road), and other money related symbolism. I believe something about the greenback and Oz is there.

Anonymous Donn February 07, 2015 6:48 PM  

Malcom Justified is my favorite show as well. I am upset that this is the end.

Anonymous dsgntd_plyr February 07, 2015 7:03 PM  

I read an interview with Kubrick years ago where he said "a clockwork orange" didn't really have a script. Instead they had a copy of the book, and just shot in order (only the ending was different).

Also "2001" was a collabaration with arthur c clarke, where while co-writing the script clarke would also work on the novelization.

Blogger dfordoom February 07, 2015 7:12 PM  

Kubrick's The Shining is better than King's novel.

Agreed.

Nic Roeg's Don't Look Now is better than Daphne du Maurier's story. Hitchcock's The Birds, also based on a Daphne du Maurier story, is much better than the original story. Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451 is a lot better than Bradbury's silly and tedious novel. Truffaut's The Bride Wore Black is just as good as Cornell Woolrich's novel. Boileau and Narcejac's Vertigo was an excellent novel which Hitchcock made into an even better film.

The problem with recent movie adaptations is not that it's difficult to turn a good book into a good movie. The problem is that movies today are crap, because (as a previous commentator so correctly pointed out in regard to Tolkien and Peter Jackson) modern film-makers have no respect for western civilisation. Or for their audience. They're nihilists.

OpenID malcolmthecynic February 07, 2015 8:28 PM  

Maneever,

The money symbolism as traditionally interpreted is a folk tale with little basis in fact.

Anonymous kh123 February 07, 2015 10:39 PM  

"...modern film-makers have no respect for western civilisation. Or for their audience. They're nihilists."

What's the explanation for Kubrick then.

OpenID malcolmthecynic February 07, 2015 11:10 PM  

kh,

He adapted nihilistic books.

Anonymous kawaika February 07, 2015 11:16 PM  

"Rambo was supposed to die in the film too but the ending was changed so they could have sequels."

No, the ending was changed, because when a test audience saw the original film ending, there was a shocked silence followed by an angry cry to hang whoever thought of such an ending. There are some behind the scenes clips on youtube about it.

This is from the intro:

"I had been determined that there be no winners, and so both the police chief and Rambo die. In the novel, Sam Trautman ... blows the top of his former student's head off with a shotgun. A variation--in which Rambo commits suicide--was filmed. But test audiences found that conclusion too depressing. The film crew returned to Canada to stage a new ending, and Rambo lived. Thus, inadvertently, it was possible to do sequels prompted by the film's success."

The intro discusses other changes made, as well as reasons. Rambo and Me, a brief essay on Amazon may be of interest. I enjoyed reading about what was changed and why.

Blogger Corvinus February 07, 2015 11:51 PM  

Nowadays, having your work put on film by Hollywood is a surefire way of tainting it with Pink. Like The Hobbit having an original strong female character, and black people in Lake Town.

Anonymous beerme February 08, 2015 12:04 AM  

Of course, there GRR Martin appears to have done Hollywood the service of ruining his books in advance with his own sequels, so it could be a matter of a better choice of medium - the miniseries rather than the movies - or perhaps it is merely a matter of lowered expectations.

The miniseries seems to be far superior for novel length works because of the increased detail afforded by the format. A novel that isn't complete fluff just requires more time to tell the story than a two or three hour movie without significant detail removal or insane pacing. A miniseries also lines up well because multiple short chapters or one larger chapter fit well into the episodic format.

The original Star Wars trilogy is a decent example of the size of book that might lend itself to the movie format due to their novelization. Star Wars is 180 pages, The Empire Strikes Back is 146 pages, and Return of the Jedi is 144 pages. Each movie was about two hours long, but Return of the Jedi was the shortest novelization and the longest movie. A Game of Thrones is 807 pages without the appendix. I believe that all but the shortest novels would work best in a miniseries format if they are to remain close to the source material.

Anonymous kh123 February 08, 2015 12:18 AM  

"He adapted nihilistic books."

Similar to jihadis adapting the Koran for busline performance art.

Anonymous Stilicho February 08, 2015 12:21 AM  

The Lonesome Dove miniseries was about as good as an adaptation can get. The Princess Bride was an excellent, hilarious movie and a crappy book. But the author was a screenwriter by trade, so it's not surprising that his work would translate better on screen. Speaking of which. Martin was a Hollywood screenwriter for over a decade, so that may have something to do with how well it translates to the screen. I can't identify the elements that would make it so, but that doesn't mean there isn't something there. Perhaps it's something as simple as how the story is told through dialog with less reliance on narrative.

Blogger Kirk Parker February 08, 2015 12:53 AM  

Rolf,

"But a Castalia House version of The Stars Came Back? Yeah, I'd like to see that. I'd bet a lot of other people would, too."

Indeed, I'd give my left nut to see that! (Posthumously, of course, but still....)

Blogger Manveer Claire February 08, 2015 1:06 AM  

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=lg93I5ydyNo

I wouldn't call that a folk tale with little basis in fact. It's just likely related to the gold standard, and you would be speculating just as much as anyone else to say otherwise, unless you have a direct quote from Baum saying how it has absolutely nothing to do with the gold standard at the time.

Anonymous A. Nonymous February 08, 2015 2:22 AM  

Seeing as I'm already persona non grata with Mr. Wright, I might as well say it: I liked Andrew Stanton's Barsoom better than Edgar Rice Burroughs' (minus the warrior princess stuff, of course, but there's a trade-off with Carter not being smitten with hopeless oneitis for Dejah).

Anonymous Giuseppe February 08, 2015 7:49 AM  

Cloud Atlas was a much better film than the book in my opinion.

Anonymous Anonymous February 08, 2015 9:08 AM  

I was quite disappointed to see the commercials for Seventh Son, a (supposedly quite bad) movie based on the The Spook's Apprentice book series, as I had enjoyed the first 4-5 books before losing interest. The movie looks like a CGI clobberfest in sharp contrast to the story which takes place on the page. Seems like the only thing they kept were some character names. I'll wait to see it on cable.

GoDownFighting

Blogger wrf3 February 08, 2015 10:18 AM  

dsgntd_plyr wrote: "I read an interview with Kubrick years ago where he said "a clockwork orange" didn't really have a script. Instead they had a copy of the book, and just shot in order (only the ending was different).

Mainly because they left off the last chapter of the British version. I think the movie is more powerful, even if less hopeful, because of it.

OpenID malcolmthecynic February 08, 2015 11:32 AM  

Manveer,

I don't have the time this specific moment to look it up, but if I'm remembering it right Baum's politics are actually the opposite of what they're claiming they were.

Anonymous Biggie February 08, 2015 2:12 PM  

GiuseppeFebruary 08, 2015 7:49 AM
Cloud Atlas was a much better film than the book in my opinion.

Couldn't agree more. The book was one of those rare occassions where I was completed sucked in, enjoyed every page, then had no idea what the point was. In the film, I got it.

Blogger luagha February 08, 2015 2:27 PM  

I will mention this about Andrew Stanton's Barsoom. Whether or not any mistakes were made in shooting choices, and in marketing especially.

My showing had twenty people plus me in a giant 3-D capable theatre with over 200 seats. And at the end of that movie, there was exactly twenty-one people filing into the restroom because they dared not leave their seats for a second during the last hour and a half.

Blogger Gunnar von Cowtown February 09, 2015 12:56 PM  

Trimegistus sez, "Blade Runner_. Totally changed the book and is a masterpiece of cinema."

I was going to mention how Blade Runner (1982) was better than "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?", but I was afraid of getting pelted with 12-sided dice.

OpenID easilyangered February 09, 2015 1:22 PM  

"The really good film makers (Ridley Scott, etc.)"

I'm going to have to say his Robin hood that shot 3 arrows in a 2 hour movie and maid marion wading into battle with custom fitted plate armor invalidates the above quote.

The first Hobbit was ok, I wish they would have had the Orc Song when they were in the trees, but the second and its ridiculous barrel chase and retarded Lake Town politics hour made me not even want to see the third.

Blogger automatthew February 09, 2015 1:59 PM  

I was going to mention how Blade Runner (1982) was better than "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"

Blade Runner is inarguably more entertaining than Do Androids. But PKD's novel was never intended to be an exciting shoot-em-up, and the film never even tried to reproduce the novel's actual themes.

I'm glad we have both the novel and the film. I doubt I'll ever watch the film again, but I know I'll read the novel again and pass it down to my children.

Anonymous Sevron February 09, 2015 10:23 PM  

"Who Framed Roger Rabbit" is a thousand times better than "Who Censored Roger Rabbit". Even the author agreed.

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