Adaptation: Where is the line?

Talk about any aspect of the films.

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Re: Adaptation: Where is the line?

Postby aileth » Mar 13, 2017 8:05 am

Reepicheep775 wrote:Maybe the fact that Narnia isn't as culturally relevant as LotR is a blessing in disguise. At least we don't have to put up with The Silver Chair Parts 1, 2, and 3. :p

Aw, come on now! You know, there could be as many as 21 Narnia movies. Who would refuse? And why not in four parts? or five? (I think they kind of did that already. BBC, anyone?)

The problem with a bad adaptation is that there is often enough of the story to be recognizable, thereby leaving a bad taste in one's mouth every time one bites into book or movie. As pointed out many times before, if they can make it a good movie, so that it can be enjoyed for its own merits, then go for it. Mary Poppins is one I can think of: I like them both, though the movie and the book are quite different.
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Re: Adaptation: Where is the line?

Postby The Rose-Tree Dryad » Mar 13, 2017 3:45 pm

aileth wrote:The problem with a bad adaptation is that there is often enough of the story to be recognizable, thereby leaving a bad taste in one's mouth every time one bites into book or movie. As pointed out many times before, if they can make it a good movie, so that it can be enjoyed for its own merits, then go for it. Mary Poppins is one I can think of: I like them both, though the movie and the book are quite different.

This reminds me of Howl's Moving Castle. While one of my favorite books of all time, I didn't get around to seeing the Miyazaki film until my late teens. The film is significantly different from the book in a number of ways, and while I love the book a good deal more and consider it superior, I still appreciate and love the movie. I think it has some major flaws, but it's a work of art and Miyazaki had a powerful vision for the film. I'm very glad that Studio Ghibli made the movie, despite the many changes and the issues I have with it as an adaptation. Diana Wynne Jones, the author of Howl's Moving Castle, was alive when the film was made, but she had no input and said that movie ought to be different from the book, and that it would still be a fantastic film. She really enjoyed the film when she saw it.

What if the above paragraph was describing a film adaptation of The Silver Chair, though? How would I feel if someone approached SC with a vision that was sharply different than the book? How would C.S. Lewis have felt?

It all depends on the finished product, I suppose. And whether or not it is reinforcing the themes of the book in new ways, or simply creating new themes and dialing back what is really there. (Example: one of the problems I have with the HMC adaptation was the focus on war and Howl's involvement; war wasn't a theme in the book.) If someone had a vision for SC that was quite different than the book while still preserving the heart and the feel of the story, I'm sure I would be spellbound. I would probably still be spellbound even if it missed the mark in several ways, as the HMC adaptation did. I do know that would prefer something creative and visionary, even if it failed in some areas, to a "tame" and boring adaptation.

As Anhun said, though, SC is not a difficult book to adapt to film, and the C.S. Lewis Estate's careful guardianship would likely make it challenging for someone with a visionary mind like Miyazaki to have free reign over the project. (And Miyazaki did, after all, write the screenplay as well as direct; that won't be happening with SC.) On the other hand, the Estate may also be looking for someone who is uniquely creative in order to reinvigorate the franchise and capture new audiences, so we'll see. I just hope they're inspired, and that their inspiration stems primarily from the book.
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Re: Adaptation: Where is the line?

Postby Glumpuddle » Mar 15, 2017 7:29 am

Reepicheep775 wrote:That's why I wasn't at all excited when I found out The Screwtape Letters was supposed to be made into a film

I've been re-reading Screwtape and thought of a possible approach to a movie (see video below). But here's the problem: It might be a great movie, but it wouldn't exactly be The Screwtape Letters anymore. That'd be fine if they are aiming to make a great movie, but not fine if they just want to cash-in on the popularity of the book.

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Re: Adaptation: Where is the line?

Postby fledge1 » Jun 21, 2017 3:07 pm

I view myself as kind of a purist when it comes to making a movie from a book. The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe I was ok with. I was so excited to see it come to life that the first screening I just said I will watch and enjoy. The second time I go see it I will see what changes were made. The Podcast on this topic was brilliant...I know I am late to the conversation. Completely agree about Voyage, it made zero sense and followed nothing. I had a hard time letting my kids even watch it until they read the book, and they were to young to read.
I have seen where it works. In Lord of the Rings (now dont be mad at me people) but the scene where Arwin is riding with Frodo to take him to her dad and they were being chased. I enjoyed that scene much more in the movie then I did in the book. I have trained horses most of my life and thought wow that was some amazing riding and just made her character that much cooler. The Silver Chair is a strong deep meaningful story. I hope they stay as true to it as they can. Jill Pole is a complex real amazing character. She is going to be hard to portray. The book I am the most worried about is HB. That one is my favorite and has so much meaning, I would almost be afraid to watch out of fear.
I believe in Christianity as I believe in the sun: not only because I see it, but by it I see everything else. -C.S. Lewis
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Re: Adaptation: Where is the line?

Postby AJAiken » Jun 22, 2017 12:36 am

I'm afraid I can't wait until a second viewing before discovering any changes. ;)) They pop out at me right away!

gP, thanks for sharing that initial Lewis quote. I haven't seen that version of King Solomon's Mines but I have seen the end of the 1985 one. I've read the book, and this film completely confused me. It's a kind of spoof of Indiana Jones - nothing at all like the book. And not at all a good film, in my opinion.

I remember when first hearing about Disney's The Princess and the Frog that I thought the general plot (the woman kissing the frog also turns into a frog) sounded exactly like a book I'd read. As it turns out, the book The Frog Princess is credited as inspiring the film. All they've kept is that central theme. Another interesting adaptation is How to Train Your Dragon. The plot of the film is completely different to that of the book, though they keep Hiccup's character. Yet I like these films a lot. They're good stories, particularly the latter.

An adaptation I did not like (thanks wagga for the Shirley Temple mention) is both the Shirley Temple and the 1995 A Little Princess movies. I mention them together because at the core they are very similar; the latter is based on the earlier movie as much as it is on the book. This was hugely distressing for me, as, having read the book years before and having been disappointed by the Temple version I watched the 1995 one in growing horror ... The newer one is a good film, but it isn't the same story as the book.

fledge1, I love the scene with Arwen and Frodo too. I think LotR is, for me, a great case study of when changes can be made to create a good story and stay faithful to the book.

In terms of what's too far, it's so dependent on the individual. Storytellers are used to playing with characters and scenes to make a story better. It's easy to move quite far from an original idea without really meaning to. I was storyboarding for a short film idea and some of the other artists and I were exploring various ideas beyond the script, and a lot of these ideas were brought in and reinforced which changed the original story in a way that we thought was good. The director came in and said 'No' and took out every change, reminding us to stick to the script. In that case we had a director who knew exactly what he wanted, and we had to figure out how to tell the story he wanted to tell, even if we thought it would be easier or better to do so another way.

When I draw storyboards for corporate videos it can be a real challenge to create a visual for something that's essentially a dry bit of information about a product or company procedure. However, that's my job. I need to take that information and make it work. I can suggest small changes if I think it will smooth it out, or make more sense, but otherwise I'm tied to what the client wants.

Sometimes I think that if filmmakers challenged themselves to stick to the book they might come up with better ideas. I agree that some changes need to be made, but it seems that with a few films (particularly VDT) one change was suggested, and then another, and then another, without reference to the original material.
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