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Old May 23 2012, 03:33 AM   #1
Tom Hendricks
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Adaptations

I don't have HBO, so I had to wait until Game of Thrones came out on BluRay to see it. I also never read the series, so I decided I would read the book and watch the tv show together.

I truly was shocked how the book was transferred to the screen, almost word for word from the book. Finishing the novel and series together was really a pleasurable experience. It also got me thinking about adaptations of materials for movies and television. I have come to the conclusion that Game of Thrones is the best adaptation of the source material I have ever seen. Now I haven't read everything and I haven't seen every movie or tv shows/series. So some out there may consider other materials better and I would like to hear about yours.

What are your favorite adaptations, either movie or tv?
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Old May 23 2012, 04:16 AM   #2
Kirkman1987
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Re: Adaptations

That's a big question. Here's some that come to mind.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest- Nicholson as Mcmurphy is a sight to behold. I'm not sure what to say, it's flawless.

To Kill A Mockingbird- again, pretty much flawless. one or two subplots are missing from the film, but nothing I would consider essential. Gregory Peck turns in maybe the best performance of his career, and the children in this film are so real. You can tell they weren't typical child actors, they are so genuine.

Granada Sherlock Holmes- I recently started a thread about how much I love the Soviet Sherlock Holmes series, but this one is still the best. Jeremy Brett IS Sherlock Holmes in many people's eyes, and it's easy to see why. The production values are also high, and for most of the run they followed the stories almost page for page.

Now in terms of Loose Adaptations that I still think are great as companion pieces.

Dune(1984) - First, I'm a massive Dune fan and a even bigger David Lynch fan, so this movie was almost made for me. It is very loose to the book, but is so visually arresting and interesting in it's own right that I forgive it. Lynch disowns the film, but so much of his personality is in this.

20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (1954) - This is just a damn fun movie. Fantastic effects, great casting. The ending is entirely different from the book.....and I actually like it more.

That's enough for now. I'm sure I'll be kicking myself soon enough for all the stuff I left out.
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Old May 23 2012, 05:16 AM   #3
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Re: Adaptations

Watchmen.

The trailer for Luhrman's The Great Gatsby, BTW, is unbearable. Just awful. It may be an extravagantly gaudy movie that's fun on some level, but he's nowhere within twenty-five thousand miles of Fitzgerald here.
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Old May 23 2012, 06:14 AM   #4
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Re: Adaptations

My Name Is Legion wrote: View Post
The trailer for Luhrman's The Great Gatsby, BTW, is unbearable. Just awful. It may be an extravagantly gaudy movie that's fun on some level, but he's nowhere within twenty-five thousand miles of Fitzgerald here.
It does a great job of looking like a Baz Luhrman film though, for what that's worth...
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Old May 23 2012, 09:35 AM   #5
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Re: Adaptations

The film adaptations I've seen that are the most faithful to the source material are:

Theatrical -- Rosemary's Baby
Made-for-TV -- The Moneychangers
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Old May 23 2012, 12:23 PM   #6
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Re: Adaptations

My Name Is Legion wrote: View Post
[I]Watchmen.
This.

I enjoyed Troy.
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Old May 23 2012, 02:24 PM   #7
Admiral Buzzkill
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Re: Adaptations

IndyJones wrote: View Post
My Name Is Legion wrote: View Post
The trailer for Luhrman's The Great Gatsby, BTW, is unbearable. Just awful. It may be an extravagantly gaudy movie that's fun on some level, but he's nowhere within twenty-five thousand miles of Fitzgerald here.
It does a great job of looking like a Baz Luhrman film though, for what that's worth...
That it does. I loved Moulin Rouge.
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Old May 23 2012, 03:13 PM   #8
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Re: Adaptations

"Count Dracula," the 1970s tv-version of Dracula starring Louis Jourdan as the Count, is probably the most faithful adaptation of the novel I've seen.
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Old May 23 2012, 05:01 PM   #9
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Re: Adaptations

Kirkman1987 wrote: View Post
To Kill A Mockingbird- again, pretty much flawless. one or two subplots are missing from the film, but nothing I would consider essential. Gregory Peck turns in maybe the best performance of his career, and the children in this film are so real. You can tell they weren't typical child actors, they are so genuine.
Mockingbird is a pretty terrific film, but there's one respect in which it doesn't work as well as the book, and that's the trial sequence. The great thing about the book is how it encapsulates the worldview of a child, where the world is a great mystery and adventure, every little new discovery is epic, every crisis that an adult would dismiss as trivial is of life-or-death urgency, and the issues that adults obsess over are distant and enigmatic. The movie captures that in its first half and its closing scenes, but in between there's this whole extended trial sequence where the focus shifts entirely to the adult perspective. In the book, it still fits because everything is observed and filtered through Scout's first-person perspective as she watches, but in the movie it's like we've switched to a completely different (though still brilliant) film with a completely different point of view. Because the language of film is external rather than internal, because the subjectivity of viewpoint is lost, the unity of the narrative is weakened.


Granada Sherlock Holmes- I recently started a thread about how much I love the Soviet Sherlock Holmes series, but this one is still the best. Jeremy Brett IS Sherlock Holmes in many people's eyes, and it's easy to see why. The production values are also high, and for most of the run they followed the stories almost page for page.
My recollection is that they took a lot of license with the plot details -- fleshing out a lot of the stories to fill an hour, adding subplots, and the like. For instance, they retconned Moriarty in as the mastermind behind one or two earlier episodes before they finished out a season with "The Final Problem." And the fact that they adapted the stories wildly out of order also led to changes.


But I do not accept the premise that the fidelity of an adaptation is an indicator of its quality. To me, if you want something exactly like the original work, that's what the original is for. The whole point of doing a new version of a story is to make it new, to find a fresh take on the work. If you can't add something that wasn't part of the work before, why even bother to tell a new version?

After all, different media have different strengths, different needs and emphases. What works in prose isn't the same as what works onscreen. To Kill a Mockingbird is an illustration of how being too faithful to the structure of the book made the adaptation less successful as a film, because as a film it lacked the same unity of viewpoint and tone that the book had. A less literal adaptation might've preserved the spirit of the book more successfully, conveyed the themes and ideas of the book in a way that was more cohesive as a film.

Not to mention that it's redundant to make an adaptation whose only target audience is those people who've already experienced the original work. The point of adapting a story to a new medium is, in part, to expose it to a new audience (for instance, these days the readership for a given comic is in the tens of thousands at best, but adapting a comic-book character for TV or movies can expose the character to millions of new fans). So an adaptation should be able to stand on its own, to work as a distinct and independent creation. What matters isn't how slavishly it copies the source, but how well it stands as an independent work, and how much it adds to the concept by taking a fresh approach to it.


One of the most faithful interpretations I've ever seen is the animated DVD movie version of Batman: Year One. Because that was only a 4-issue story, it was possible to adapt the entire thing in 70-odd minutes. Virtually nothing was cut, except for some bits of narration that were streamlined or fleshed out into actual dialogue or onscreen action. Essentially every beat of the story was retold, and a significant amount of new material was added. And the changes that were made were considerable improvements. The one thing that was cut out altogether (aside from all the smoking references) was a very silly bit showing Bruce Wayne performing wild ski stunts in Europe just four days after receiving serious injuries in the tenement battle with the SWAT team. The movie deletes it and has Bruce only pretending to recover from a skiing injury while he heals from the battle. The one worthwhile thing in that bit that is lost is Bruce musing that he could use Lt. Gordon as an ally. But other good stuff is added elsewhere. Best of all, Gordon's wife, who's a cipher in the original, is fleshed out into more of a real character with more importance to the story. And some things are depicted faithfully but with a shift in viewpoint that improves them. In the scene where Batman crashes Falcone's party and warns the corrupt city leaders to beware, the comic focused on Batman's preparations, but the movie keeps the focus mainly on the dinner guests and their fright at this mysterious intrusion, and that's far more potent.

So that's an example of how an adaptation can both be faithful to a text and add new things that improve on it. If it had just been a word-for-word, shot-for-shot remake, there wouldn't have been much point. Then it would've just been a motion comic, not a movie. It was the interpretation, the refinements, that made it a good adaptation (even better than the original, in my view, but then I've never been much of a Frank Miller fan).
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Old May 23 2012, 07:33 PM   #10
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Re: Adaptations

Easy.


THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER

Followed by:

Run Silent, Run Deep

The Enemy Below

Firefox


And rounding out the top five:

Christine
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Old May 24 2012, 08:46 PM   #11
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Re: Adaptations

My Name Is Legion wrote: View Post
Watchmen.

The trailer for Luhrman's The Great Gatsby, BTW, is unbearable. Just awful. It may be an extravagantly gaudy movie that's fun on some level, but he's nowhere within twenty-five thousand miles of Fitzgerald here.
It's a bizarre movie to chose to do in 3-D. I'm not a hater of 3-D (if I can see a movie in 3-D or 2-D, I'll generally go for 3-D) but by-and-large, I think it makes more sense for spectacular action movies than character dramas.

On topic, I'd opt for

The Shawshank Redemption (very, very faithful to the book)

LA Confidential (though it did change the ending, which was understandable, as in the books, the repercussions and characters carried on through several novels)

The Godfather (better than the book IMHO)

The Lord of the Rings (ditto)

Game of Thrones (incidentally, season 2 and the second book in the series, A Clash of Kings, do differ in many ways)

Adaptations which departed radically from the books but which were still great were the Bourne series, most of the Bond movies and Misery (the whole sub-plot with the sheriff and his wife was totally created by William Goldman, IIRC).
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Old May 24 2012, 09:24 PM   #12
J.T.B.
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Re: Adaptations

The Godfather (better than the book IMHO)
Agreed, and Goodfellas (Wiseguy) in a similar vein.

One that made a lot of changes but ended up better, IMO, was The Shining.

But my all-time favorite adaptation, which stayed faithful and added just the right touches that only movies can, is Lonesome Dove.

Justin
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