Jul 12, 2010

film term of the day: Adaptation

Adaptation: a version of an existing story rewritten for the screen (also the name of a film which deals humorously with the idea of adapting a best selling book to screen)

Example: William Goldman's The Princess Bride
At times containing portions of dialog that are a word for word match, both book and film were written by screenwriter William Goldman. The book is written like a movie, and the movie deviates little from the story in the book. Indeed, the book itself claims to be an adaptation - and can be seen as a clever commentary on the subject - its premise being that it is the author's favorite parts of a much older book edited together (or should I say heavily abridged?) to make a more fluid story. Both the film and the book are works of true genius.

Extreme example: The Count of Monte Cristo (starring Jim Caviezel)
Based very loosely on the famous classic novel, nearly the only similarity are characters' names and the manner in which The Count escapes from prison. There were by necessity (the book in its unabridged form is over 1000 pages) so many omissions in the film version that it is barely recognizable as the same story.

Note: lots of film adaptations fall somewhere between the two examples given above, in that many story elements are recognizable from book to film, but liberties have been taken for time or other considerations (obvious e.g. Harry Potter movies).

Personal note: I am typically against novel-abridgment, but found myself coming down on the "for it" side of the argument during my months-long attempt to read The Count of Monte Cristo. I am not averse to reading long novels (I have thoroughly enjoyed longer ones than this), but this one was rambling and inconsistent in its "voice," and just boring. I did read every last word, eventually, and am proud of myself for slogging through; but it shines in my memory as one instance in which I should have read the abridged version instead.

1 comment:

  1. Have you read and watched "Slum Dog Millionaire"? That was a very interesting adaptation. Both versions were really good imo, but I think that was one rare occassion I enjoyed the movie more than the book.


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