Charlie Kaufman: Okay. But, I'm saying, it's like, I don't want to cram in sex or guns or car chases, you know... or characters, you know, learning profound life lessons or growing or coming to like each other or overcoming obstacles to succeed in the end, you know.I love this quote from Adaptation because it embodies the struggle that screenwriters go through in adapting a book to a film. I've attempted an adaptation before and it was alot harder than I thought it would be. You can't just pull chapters verbatim from the book and set them in scenes. So much more goes into an adaptation, like:
I mean... The book isn't like that, and life isn't like that. You know, it just isn't. And... I feel very strongly about this.
~ (from the 2002 film Adaptation staring Nicolas Cage and Meryl Streep)
- the emotion that the character will convey
- establishing the background for a character
- conversion into a classic three act type structure
- making the screenplay dummy proof (suitable for the common man) with appropriate exposition and establishing scenes without spelling everything out and ruining the mystery or storyline.
- worrying about writing "Spec" (technically correct and easily sellable to Hollywood) so you won't be made fun of or rejected outright.
- worrying about how close you should stick to the classic three act story structure and Campbellian Monomyth
To move on, I've been reading adaptations for a long time and they are some of my favorite types of books. I just love comparing the differences in the film and the book and then finding the hidden story lines and subplots that didn't make it into the film adaptation. So, as promised, here are some of my favorite adaptations:
- Jurassic Park- by Michael Crichton
- The Da Vinci Code - by Dan Brown
- The Lord of the Rings - by J.R.R. Tolkien
- Forrest Gump - by Winston Groom
- Dreamcatcher - by Steven King
- Fight Club - by Chuck Palahniuk
- The Shawshank Redemption- by Steven King
- The Club Dumas (The Ninth Gate) - by Arutro Perez-Reverte
- Harry Potter series - by J.K. Rawling
- The Chronicles of Narnia; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - by C.S. Lewis
- Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?(Blade Runner) - by Philip K. Dick
- Johnny Mnemonic (a short story from the book Burning Chrome) - by William Gibson
(photo by Andrei Z from Flickr)
Josh Self is the writer and editor for The Horse, The Wedding PhotogBlog, Storycrafter, and a writer for The Terminal, Birmingham's most popular hyper-local blog. He always watches the movie first and then reads the book...