Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Adaptations: The Good, The Bad, and the Bay

Why even make adaptations?

If a story is good, why re-tell it? We've already read the story of Jane Eyre: why make not just one, but literally dozens of movies re-telling the same story?

For that matter, why take a concept and move it around in space or time so that you can re-tell it that way, a la the zillion and one Pride and Prejudice re-tellings? Why not just tell your own story, if you're going to change things anyway? Why tread old ground, when people could just read the original?

This is a gross generalization (as all generalizations are), but I think we can generally group adaptations into one of three groups:

1) Did it for the love - Wanted to explore different aspects of the story, or wanted to help it reach a broader audience.

2) Did it for the money - MAKE IT RAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIN

3) I love money, and I... money love? This thing I love is fantastic, but I'm willing to futz with it a bit to get butts in seats. I'll get this thing out there, and they can go read the source material later.

Is there anything wrong with wanting to make money off an endeavor? Of course not! Some really fantastic books and movies and art have come out of somebody who really wants to make a buck and happens to have a story to tell.

But when it comes to adaptation, the intent of the creator is going to necessarily transform the approach that creator takes. Lord of the Rings is a perfect example - while everyone involved with the project clearly loved the material, they were willing to make changes to adapt the material to the perceived needs of the audience, rather than stay as faithful as possible and expect the audience to keep up. The story sprang from a desire to put Tolkien's work on film, but a number of issues that the creators struggled with had nothing at all to do with the source material - look at Arwen, Warrior Princess getting put in... taken out... put in again... taken out...

We almost had this instead of Fainting Couch Arwen.

The focus of your storytelling matters, which is why we're looking at them this way. But these aren't judgments. Passion is no guarantee of a good movie.

Oh Will, you and your
questionable career
During this little miniseries I'm going to refer mainly to movies as examples because any given movie I mention is going to have been seen by more of you than any one book I want to talk about. So! What should I start with - the good, the bad, or alien robots from outer space with inexplicable bodily functions? Tell me in the comments!


  1. The bad! Lol!

    Speaking of Pride & Prejudice though, I only like the one with Colin Firth.

    1. +1... Colin Firth is the best Darcy


  2. 1971 and 2005 film adaptations of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory please!