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Adaptation

Discussion in 'Pop Culture Board' started by Dr. Gonzo Esquire, Oct 4, 2010.

  1. Dr. Gonzo Esquire

    Dr. Gonzo Esquire
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    I think many, if not most, book/graphic novel to movie adaptations fail because movies by definition are much simpler than books. Let's assume the average movie is 90 minutes long. That's not a lot of time to develop a handful of characters, convince the audience to invest emotionally in them, and then lay out a meaningful conflict the characters must resolve. Whereas a book has the advantage of a narrator, that is to say, having insight to a character's thoughts means the reader has a much easier time connecting to him/her or at the least can empathize with his/her motivation. This means a well written book can do what a movie can't in about 150-200 pages. I can however think of a handful of good adaptations that were good solely because they digressed so much from the original material that the movie simply became incomparable to the source. In that case, the movie must be judged on its own merits.

    Focus: Talk about a good book/graphic novel to movie adaptation. Did the movie maintain the same basic story/elements or did it digress enough that the source material became irrelevant to a conversation of review?

    Bonus Focus: Which movie adaptations ended up being better than the source material?

    Anti-Focus: Which movie adaptations ended up being far worse than the source material?
     
  2. KIMaster

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    Clockwork Orange-

    The movie's fundamental story was pretty good, but nothing special, and slightly inferior to that of the book. However, it's everything else; the gorgeous, bright cinemaphotography, amazing soundtrack, Malcolm McDowell's all-time performance as Alex, and dark humor that made it such a masterpiece.

    Most movies adapted from books, including some famous and even good ones. "Gone with the Wind" is an excellent movie with terrific acting performances, the same fundamentally strong narrative of the novel...and yet, it doesn't quite do the novel justice. Every character except for Rhett Butler is a pale, shoddy imitation of the interesting individuals in the book, especially Scarlett. The plot also has nowhere near the scope, range, depth, or underlying message that the book did.

    I watched the movie first, really liked it, then read the novel...and realized it was significantly better.
     
  3. Dr. Gonzo Esquire

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    Did you mean "from"? If not, I am very confused.

    The same thing happened to me with American Psycho. Watched the movie first, really liked it, then I read the book and realized that the movie was a G rated adaptation of the novel. Christian Bale was still fantastic as Patrick Bateman though.
     
  4. Crown Royal

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    From Here To Eternity needs to be remade, but not because the first wasn't a great film. It was. It's just that the times it came out in were too censored and square for how adult the novel actually was.

    Watchmen was superficially faithful to the graphic novel with some SERIOUS changes (escpecially the novel's ghastly-de-la-ghastly sci-fi climax), at least more faithful than most comic-to-movies from past. The comic was cerebral and brilliant, the movie focused too much on boring-voiced Dr. Manhattan and took away from Jackie Haley's brilliant, dead-to-rights performance as Rorschach. Never has someone been more perfectly cast for a comic character.

    I thought thatThe Crow was on it's own a very good low-budget movie, but it bared not much similarity to O'Barr's coal-dark graphic novel of pure cruelty. Only some character names and basic plot lines were similar. Sequels? Feh!

    From Hell was an exceptional film, I loved everything about it. Moore's graphic novel though well written was crudely drawn and told in pulp fiction so the times are confusing in it, as well as every male character looks the same.

    The biggest disgrace to a book ever is The Bonfire Of The Vanities. A sprawling novel reduced to a festering mound of baked seagull shit, cast with some of the biggest names in Hollywood and here comes the tide: Entire cast flounders in the idiotic screenplay that pulls the audience as far away from real life as humanly possible. What a massacre.
     
  5. goodfornothing

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    Stephen King has had several books/novellas/etc turned into movies, some of which are very good. Sometimes they deviate a bit but they mostly stick closely to the story.

    Some good ones are (in order of my favorite to least favorite of his better adaptations):

    Stand by Me
    The Shawshank Redemption
    The Green Mile
    The Shining
    Misery
    The Mist (just okay)
     
  6. KIMaster

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    It's worth noting that Stephen King hated the Kubrick adaptation so much that he had his own television mini-series adaptation made in 1997.
     
  7. zwtipp05

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    I am Legend

    The book was great (albeit fairly short), but captures the loneliness and fight for survival of the narrator very well. The Will Smith movie however decides however to completely butcher the ending and alter the plot by adding a kid and making it just another Hollywood vampire movie. The book actually makes you step back and realize that the term "monster" is completely relative to your viewpoint.
     
  8. Dr. Gonzo Esquire

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    That and the book actually explains the meaning behind the title.
     
  9. Kubla Kahn

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    It's also worth noting that even though it was more faithful to the themes of the book it was no where near as scary or classic as Kubrick's version.


    Having just read The Godfather I stand by my view that the movie is better than the book. Not that the book is terrible, it's actually really good, and the film is really faithful to it. There was just such a good combination of acting and movie making that made the story that much more powerful in my mind. The subplots that were cut from the movie are really good but obviously would have killed the flow of the film. The only thing I thought was really missing was the book's take on Vito's anti-establishment anti-goverment sentiments that drove his actions in the book. The book paints the mafia as ultimately a scourge on society but necessary for Vito to create his own opportunities for his family because America's sense of justice and law didn't provide them.


    There Will Be Blood- I said it before in a very similar thread. This movie is ten times better than the source material "Oil!" by Upton Sinclair. The movie is based on the first 150 pages of the book, but even then it creates it's own story and experience. The book was a scathing review of the oil industry's misdeeds in the early 20th century as well as a communist manifesto of sorts.

    Book spoilers:

    It actually follows his son, not deafened by an oil blast, as he grows up with a man crush on the Sunday brother that's seen in the film for one scene. This brother extolls all the virtues of a good little marxist. By the end the boy is swindled out of most of his inheritance and starts a little communist school for him and his comrades. Bored yet? I know I was.
     
  10. D26

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    Fight Club is one that should be mentioned. I get the impression that a lot of people saw the movie before even realizing it was based on a book. In my opinion, the book is the superior story. I understand changing the way that Jack met Tyler, but I thought the book's ending was much better than what ended up in the movie. That isn't to say the movie isn't great, because it is. It still ranks in my top 10 movies, but I felt the book ended better. Spoilers for the ending of the book, just in case:

    For those who don't know, the book ends with Jack in a hospital (presumably a mental hospital), thinking he is dead, while space monkeys bring him food and serve him and tell him that they can't wait for him to get out and and that the plans are continuing to go smoothly.

    I also would've loved it if they'd have included Tyler's first "food terrorist" story from the book, which was awesome (again, spoiler alert, just in case):

    Tyler is working at a big banquet dinner in some rich couple's house. At one point he slips away and puts a note among the wife's perfume bottles that says that he has put a small amount of urine in some of her bottles of perfume. The wife loses her shit, while Tyler slowly explains that he doesn't feel guilty because she has more money in dead whale fat on her shelf than any of them will make in their lifetimes, and that he doesn't mind getting fired from his job. I really can't do this story justice, read the book for it.

    Overall, the book was a great story, and the movie was great too, but I place the book slightly ahead of the film in terms of the overall story.

    Palahniuk also had Choke adapted into a film, but the book was much, much better. Choke isn't even CLOSE to the level of Fight Club. The film was really only saved by the fact that Sam Rockwell is awesome in anything he does, and you get to see Britta from "Community" topless.
     
  11. KIMaster

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    And I completely agree. The Stephen King faithful adaptation freaking sucked, although it would be interesting if Kubrick tried to incorporate the core of King's story. Speaking of Kubrick adaptations,

    Lolita is an interesting case. It is completely unfaithful to the book. Humbert Humbert was obsessed with nymphets, who are girls aged from 9-14. However, only a small number of girls in that age group are true nymphets, and he believes they are of a completely different species than human females.

    However, in the movie, Lolita is a mature-looking 16 year old (who the novel's Humbert Humbert would find utterly disgusting), and even the word "nymphet" is only used once. Visually and musically, "Lolita" is excellent, and the acting is good, like every Kubrick picture. It's also a frivolous piece of nonsense with no real punchline or purpose to the story, unlike the deep, absorbing novel that Nabokov wrote.
     
  12. Crown Royal

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    The surreal shocker Jacob's Ladder was actually adapted from the truly classic short story An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce, but mostly that basis is around the devastating "shaggy dog joke" ending that negates the entire story completely.

    Most Stephen King movies that are good usually come from his short stories: The Body (Stand By Me) Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, and possibly his scariest story The Mist (though they tacked on a brutally cruel ending for the movie). The Shinging was gorgeously shot and produced, but was all style and no substance with Jack way too over the top near the climax and an incredibly obnoxious little boy you just want to slap silly.
     
  13. Dr. Gonzo Esquire

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    I think Apocalypse Now is superior to Heart of Darkness, even though the movie significantly differed from the book making it almost difficult to compare. The book was just too damn difficult to read. Having to constantly turn back to the glossary to look up all the various jargon Conrad uses is too taxing for me as a reader.

    I think Thank You for Smoking was a well made adaptation. I understand why they made the alterations to the story that they did. The one thing I didn't like however was:
    Nick's son in the book is a non-issue. They mention him a few times but he has no relevance to the story whatsoever. The only reason they made him such a big part of the movie was to humanize Nick and ultimately justify his leaving the lobby.

    Paycheck was an awful adaptation. As I noted in a different thread, I'm a huge Philip K. Dick fan and Paycheck is a great short story. I would list why the adaptation was awful but the film was so forgetful I honestly can't remember enough of it to make said list.
     
  14. Dmix3

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    That's probably because everyone makes the mistake of thinking the Shining is a horror novel, it isn't. The supernatural/horror aspects of the novel are only meant to further the actual theme of the story.

    Addiction.

    More specifically alcoholism. It's no secret that the Shining was written when King himself was in the full blown depths of the bottle, hell he doesn't even remember writing Cujo and has since admitted in his book On Writing that Jack Torrance was all his demons laid onto a page. As a literary adaptation, Kubrick's film is pure dogshit, don't get me wrong as a horror movie it's great, and a classic, but King's miniseries held truer to the actual theme of his story, sadly noone really wants to watch a three-night special about a hardcore drunk, even if it did have Rebecca De Mornay in lingerie.
     
  15. Juice

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    Exactly. You really have to look at it as two different intrepretations, rather than adaptations. Regarding the miniseries, Even though its true to original book, the living topiaries and the whole Tony being Danny when hes older did NOT translate well into film, atleast in 1997. Even though the book and Kubrick version both came out before I was born, I still read the book before I saw the Kubrick version (read: helicopter parents who wouldnt allow me such violence). Kubrick wins on style and mood, the 1997 King version wins on staying true to source material.

    However, the Kubrick version can be interepreted either way though. Aside from the 1920 picture at the end, the case can be made that everything was in Jack's head (but thats a much bigger debate to be had). Im not saying I buy it, but its an interesting theory. Overall, adaptations of King's books are all over the board. I read somewhere that JJ Abrams is interested in making an adaptation of the The Dark Tower series, I cant imagine how would be in movie form.



    Focus The Swedish adaptation of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a pretty damn good movie, not as good as the book, but close.
     
  16. Crown Royal

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    The TV series was good, I will admit I enjoyed it. It was closer to the story and the infamous bathtub scene with the rotting lady was MUCH creepier and well-done than the gross one from the original movie.

    However, the hedgemaze climax from Kubrick's was easily better than the exploding furnace one from the miniseries.

     
    #16 Crown Royal, Oct 5, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 27, 2015
  17. lostalldoubt86

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    Youth In Revolt

    This book is so far superior to the movie, it's kind of sad. I feel like the issue was that the source material was so involved, that it became impossible to fit it all into that tiny movie. It should really be a franchise, but there are so few people who will go and see 3 or 4 Youth in Revolt movies that there's really no use in putting the money into making them.

    For those of you who read the book, then saw the movie, wouldn't it have been great to see a lot more of the Carlotta story? Or when Nick convinces his friend to run away from home? Or even the stuff with his sister and the sneaker/ watch deal?
     
  18. downndirty

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    Preacher should be an HBO mini-series, as should some of Ennis' other work, like Chronicles of Wormwood. It pokes a great deal of fun at religion, so I doubt it will happen.

    Kabuki by David Mack would be a beautiful film, but I feel like this and the Sandman will lose so much in transition. They are both excellent examples of how the comics genre has matured, but I don't think a film version would be an improvement.

    Batman: The Dark Knight Returns should go right alongside Watchmen as a period piece. I feel like they mined so much of Frank Miller's work (300, Daredevil, Elektra and Sin City) but left out his masterpiece. But, no one will be making any changes to the Batman formula for years to come.

    Usagi Yojimbo should have his own damned cartoon and stop sharing time with the Ninja Turtles. Do it legit, as a children's show and it would be awesome.

    100 Bullets would probably be just as good as the Wire, if it could be done in the same manner.

    Basically, if you read comics you probably stopped watching comic book movies a long time ago, because on the whole they are too damned incompetent to translate them well.
     
  19. KIMaster

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    "Apocalypse Now" is an interesting case. John Milius wrote one of the greatest scripts of all time, Francis Ford Coppola directed the best movie of his legendary career, and the actors, especially Brando, Hopper, Duvall, and Sheen, gave phenomenal performances. The film is an absolute masterpiece, possibly the greatest war film ever, and a superb, perfect adaptation.

    And yet...it doesn't quite have the emotional resonance or overarching point that "Heart of Darkness" did. The impact just isn't quite as powerful. As much as I love "Apocalypse Now", that particular story was just slightly better in novel form.
     
  20. Juice

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    Something Wicked This Way Comes

    This adaptation was pretty spot on and Ray Bradbury said it was his favorite adaptation of all his works. Even though it was produced by Disney (what the fuck?) it always did and still creeps the shit out of me. Jonathan Price is fantastic as Mr Dark. My only complaint is, if youre familiar with the book, they changed the ending for Tom Fury drastically and kind of made him much more mystical than he really was.

    He turns into a toad in the book, in the movie he carries a charged lightning rod and stabs the witch.