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Apple

TV & Film Adaptations is poetic licence taken too far?

Following on from discussions on the different TV & Film adaptions and my whinge about the decimation of the latest Harry Potter film I thought this was a valid question to raise.

When does poetic licence of the script writer get taken too far, and what is considered acceptable tweaking and trimming?

As I have made very clear in the comments I have made, I like my adaptations to be faithful to the book as far as I am concerned if you are going to use a book as material for a film or tv series then whats the bloody point if you are going to alter huge chunks of it, add bits which are not in the book, miss out characters and generally muck about with it.

If the characters who are missed out are not central to the main story then thats another matter for example Peeves in the HP books not a main character and dismissed from the films, but in the books a highly entertaining lighter moment in the stories, but not important in the big scheme of things. The same with sub plots which don't really have relevance to the main story, (I'll never understand why the Grawp story was left in HP - Phoenix).

I personally cannot enjoy an adaptation if it strays too far from the original story I think one of the worst adaptations I ever saw was The Thorn Birds - The characters were severely miscast and some parts were altered beyond recognision. I feel I have been cheated in some way, I have read a book and am expecting to see that story which I have enjoyed brought to lfe on the big screen and then its changed and parts are missing and there is this feeling of disapointment.  Plus I tend to annoy everyone who is watching it with me as I will sit there and say that wasn't in the book, why have they cut that bit out, it wasn't like that in the book etc.  I understand that things have to be tweaked here and there to get the story to fit into a reasonable timescale, or to make it visually appealing as you can get pages of nothingness in some stories which just does not translate to the big screen. Done right it makes sense and in some cases makes more sense than the original book, done wrong and the whole thing becomes a mess.

Adding things which are not in the story also makes me angry as half the time it never fits I am thinking here about HP again and the stupid beginning in the cafe and the blowing up of the burrow half way through. But funnily enough I am not talking about the example I think Klara gave of Colin Firth in the water in P&P little subtle touches like that enhance a story and can be used to good effect to describe invisible emotions.

So what do you think...???

Are you a pedantic purist like me who likes their adaptations faithful, middle of the road or couldn't give a damn!! I'd be interested to hear what you all think.
Caro

I suspect that I don't generally know books in quite enough detail to know just how faithful an adaptation is.  I do smile at some of the bits put into a Jabe Austen and think that wouldn't be in the original, but I don't think it really bothers me.  I do rather like it, though, when I recognise that something is a direct quotation from the book.

Probably how you feel about this may reflect how strongly you love a particular book.  I rather objected to the television series of the LM Montgomery Anne books because they conflated two of the men characters.  These were books I knew virtually off by heart and I wanted them to stay as as I remembered them.  This series was still very enjoyable and highly praised as I remember.  And I wouldn't have wanted them to fiddle much with Bleak House, though there was an extra character which allowed Tulkinghorn to voice his thoughts and actions, and that can sometimes be an important consideration on screen.  

I do think getting the right actors in the first place is important.  I have never forgiven the film of Captain Corelli's Mandolin for not having the courage to go with someone who resembled the book's character instead of handing it to Nicolas Cage as the best-known actor of Italian descent.  I have liked Nicolas Cage in some things (well, mostly Moonstruck) but he wasn't right for this part.  

Cheers, Caro.
Apple

Thats a very good point Caro, I suppose if I wasn't too struck on the book in first place I wouldn't care if it had been mucked about with. Whereas if its a book I have loved its sort of an insult to have it altered. Plus because I have such a deep seated passion for Wuthering Heights I am always going to pick fault any adaptation which is made because its just not going to live up to the story. I do think the correct casting is important though, especially when you get books with vivid descriptions of characters and you know exactly what they look like and the sort of character they have and they find an actor who just does not even come close. Thats happened a few times with HP Michael Gambon as Dumbledore just does not fit, sadly the late great Richard Harris was just too good in the part and was exactly as Dumbledore was written, Hermione is another one and the headmistress of Beauxbatons Madame Maxime in Goblet of fire, as good an actress Frances De La Tour is she just wasn't right in that role. ...or could just be me being really picky because its a series of books I really love.  On the other hand a fantastic piece of casting was Alan Rickman as Snape - that choice was inspired as was Robbie Coltraine as Hagrid!!
miranda

TBH, if it is a book I really like then I tend to be sceptical about all adaptations.   I may watch the first part just to see if it is as bad as I'm expecting and occasionally I've been pleasantly surprised.  As with the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle version of P&P.  

But... if I don't like the book, I won't bother with the adaptation at all.   The only adaptations I will watch with no expectations are of books I haven't read.  

But... I do agree with Apple in that I get really annoyed with a bad adaptation of a book I like.   For instance, the latest version of Miss Marple.   As I've said before, the adaptation messes with the plot, changes the characters and basically removes any good from the book.  So what's the point?  

I also find it very arrogant of the producers of an adaptation.  Agatha Christie has sold millions of books over the last 80 years in lots of countries but someone still thinks they can do it better?   Yes well......
miranda

Although..... having said that.... I actually prefer the Swedish film adaptations of Wallender to the books!
Marita

Hello Apple,

I don’t mind too much if the script writer changes things as long as the changes work well.  Colin Firth diving in the water in P&P or Mr. Collins seeing one of his cousins in her petticoat in the same series shows what a good scriptwriter can do. It works because the actions are in keeping with the character.

In the film adaptation of Sense & Sensibility Sir John’s wife and Lucy Steele’s sister had been left out. Sir John’s wife was not missed but leaving out Lucy’s sister was a cut too far. It meant that Lucy herself mentions her secret engagement with Edward to his sister. This felt wrong to me. Lucy is too sly a girl to take this risk.

Of course, as has been said before, it all depends how good you know the story and how much you care about a faithful rendition of it.

Marita
Castorboy

At least some of the writers were dead when these alterations were made to their books!  
Vera Brittain has recorded the experiences of two famous authors in the thirties when viewing the screen adaptation of their novels. In the first, John Galsworthy went to a film screening of one of his own books and after nearly three hours of strange films went to the manager to ask when his film was coming on because he couldn’t waste any more time. The manager, amazed, said But Mr Galsworthy, it finished an hour ago!

And in the second, Sir Philip Gibbs, author of The Golden Years, asked if he ever went to see the films of his books, replied Oh yes, I always go to see the film of my last novel to get the plot for my next.
He was also in the habit of introducing himself as A best-seller which the general public takes to mean that I can’t write!
TheRejectAmidHair

In general, I don't really see any reason why an adaptation should remain close to the original, but it's largely a matter of audience expectations. In certain types of adaptations, the original is no more than a starting point used to create something new. Thus, we don't expect Verdi's Otello to be faithful to Shakespeare's Othello, or Kurasawa's Ran to be faithful to King Lear, or, for that matter, Forbidden Planet to be faithful to The Tempest. We judge each of these works on its own terms.

But in the costume heritage adaptations, the general expectation is that the television drama should be an accurate reflection of the original - at least on the surface. It's almost as if the experience of watching the adaptation is expected to be a sort of equivalent to the experience of reading the book.

But this expected fidelity rarely penetrates beyond the surface. Thus, a Dickens masterpiece can be presented as a soap, or a Jane Austen novel as no more than a charming romantic tale, and no-one seems to mind. As long as the adaptation sticks closely to the story, that's all that seems to matter - as if it were merely the story that's of primary interest.

However, if we speak of capturing "the spirit of the original", we run into problems, because there is often little consensus on what exactly we mean by the "spirit". So, inevitably, each adaptation is necessarily an interpretation. And if I am to see an adaptation, I'd much rather see an interesting interpretation than some bland run-through of plot details that I know already.
miranda

TheRejectAmidHair wrote:


But this expected fidelity rarely penetrates beyond the surface. Thus, a Dickens masterpiece can be presented as a soap, or a Jane Austen novel as no more than a charming romantic tale, and no-one seems to mind. As long as the adaptation sticks closely to the story, that's all that seems to matter - as if it were merely the story that's of primary interest.

However, if we speak of capturing "the spirit of the original", we run into problems, because there is often little consensus on what exactly we mean by the "spirit". So, inevitably, each adaptation is necessarily an interpretation. And if I am to see an adaptation, I'd much rather see an interesting interpretation than some bland run-through of plot details that I know already.


I understand what you mean, Himadri.   But that really only applies when you are talking about something that has depth beneath the surface.   Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen.. yes, you can add to those and you can reveal the depths.  A good adaptation will do exactly that.  

But when you are talking about something that doesn't have a lot of depth, such as Miss Marple, then messing with the surface basically destroys the object!
TheRejectAmidHair

Yes, admittedly when the plot is the whole point of the thing, and you already have a good plot laid on a plate for you, it does seem somewhat perverse to introduce gratuitous changes. For instance, the BBC put on an adaptation of Stevenson's Kidnapped a few years go, and the plot bore little resemblance to Stevenson's novel. But even there, the reason it was so bad was not that it wasn't faithful to the original, but because the changes they made were so damn awful! There is an old film of Kidnapped for which Jack Pulman provided the script, and, as well as conflating together Kidnapped with its sequel Catriona, he made a great many changes to the plotline. But it didn't matter, because the changes were imaginative, and it all worked. With the BBC adaptation, I was left wondering why they bothered to make up such an inept excuse for a plot when they already had such a good one staring them in the face!
MikeAlx

The Sunday Times film critic reckoned the plot changes/omissions in the recent Harry Potter movie (pretty much essential given the length of the book, unless you were going to split it into two films) actually improve the pace and coherence of the story. He reckoned it was a promising sign, as more severe chopping would be needed to make a decent film of The Deathly Hallows, which he implied was overlong and rambling.

Having given up on the HP books after the third one, I can neither agree nor disagree with his comments - but I thought they were worth mentioning in the light of Apple's original message.
Evie

There is currently a rather wonderful version of Christie's A Caribbean Mystery on Radio 7, with June Whitfield as Miss Marple - very close to the BBC version with Joan Hickson, though without Donald Pleasance as Mr Raphiel, and it shows!  He (ie the actor on the radio) is a weakish link.  But I am loving that, while having found the first of the new Miss Marples on ITV quite dull.  Hurray for radio adaptations - recently very much enjoyed Ian Carmichael in The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club too - he was Peter Wimsey both on TV and on radio, which is interesting.  

Sorry, rambling a bit, just wanted to say how good these radio productions are.  I'm not sure how June Whitfield would be as Miss Marple on television - maybe very good! - but she's excellent in the radio versions, and they are just telling the story pretty straight.
Evie

PS - Apple, sorry, my last post adds nothing to your discussion - I will be more constructive and coherent when I am less tired, it's the end of a longish day!
miranda

TheRejectAmidHair wrote:
Yes, admittedly when the plot is the whole point of the thing, and you already have a good plot laid on a plate for you, it does seem somewhat perverse to introduce gratuitous changes. For instance, the BBC put on an adaptation of Stevenson's Kidnapped a few years go, and the plot bore little resemblance to Stevenson's novel. But even there, the reason it was so bad was not that it wasn't faithful to the original, but because the changes they made were so damn awful! There is an old film of Kidnapped for which Jack Pulman provided the script, and, as well as conflating together Kidnapped with its sequel Catriona, he made a great many changes to the plotline. But it didn't matter, because the changes were imaginative, and it all worked. With the BBC adaptation, I was left wondering why they bothered to make up such an inept excuse for a plot when they already had such a good one staring them in the face!


Exactly!

Laughing
Apple

I do think I have somewhat been sidetracked by my abhorence of the latest HP film and the comments I made about the TV adaptation of Wuthering Heights but I am sort of talking about adaptations in general although it may not appear to look like that.

Miranda: I purposely didn't mention that certain programme which has the gall and downright bloody cheek to call itself by the name of a certain magnificent crime writer because it certainly ain't her stories being portrayed!!! because the one episode I watched - I got so angry I felt it was in everyones interests I did not use it as an example because it would have degenerated into a rant and a long one at that!!   angry4

Also I agree that it it is harder to watch any adaptation with preconceived ideas if you've not read the book you have no idea what you are letting yourself in for, but at the same time sometimes if you have not read the book its hard to get the jist of the plot especially if it is a bad adaptation because sometimes its sort of assumed you have read the book and know what is going on I have found that a couple of times with films I have seen I have finished watching the film thinking eh? THEN read the book and everything has become clear.  Interestingly, a film adaptation I really enjoyed which was universally slated was The Da Vinci Code, I really liked that book it was an entertaining read with a story which kept my interest and I was interested to see how it translated to the big screen and I was pleasantly surprised it was just like book, an entertaining piece of cinema which kept my attention.

Mike: The critic is ...in the words of Jeremy Clarkson WRONG WRONG WRONG!!

Main bits which set the scene for the main task harry has in the final book have been cut out so how the bloody hell can harry complete these main tasks which are necessary for him to vanquish Voldemort completely if the scene is not set for him to do so, because it has bloody well been cut out!! The adaptations of Goblet and  phoenix were well thought out and made more sense than the actual book and it was like the story had had a damn good edit.  But this just a complete shambles.

Himadri: You wrote
Quote:
Yes, admittedly when the plot is the whole point of the thing, and you already have a good plot laid on a plate for you, it does seem somewhat perverse to introduce gratuitous changes...

...I was left wondering why they bothered to make up such an inept excuse for a plot when they already had such a good one staring them in the face!


That is an eloquent way of making the very point I am saying!! the plot is there why the hell muck about with it!! Smile
TheRejectAmidHair

Apple wrote:
Himadri: You wrote
Quote:
Yes, admittedly when the plot is the whole point of the thing, and you already have a good plot laid on a plate for you, it does seem somewhat perverse to introduce gratuitous changes...

...I was left wondering why they bothered to make up such an inept excuse for a plot when they already had such a good one staring them in the face!


That is an eloquent way of making the very point I am saying!! the plot is there why the hell muck about with it!! Smile


I don't think that I was saying that the plot should never be "mucked about with".  Quite the opposite, in fact. If I may be so egotistic as to quote myself:

Quote:
...each adaptation is necessarily an interpretation. And if I am to see an adaptation, I'd much rather see an interesting interpretation than some bland run-through of plot details that I know already.


To summarise my arguments:

- Certain changes are necessary, as one cannot fit everything in a novel into a film, or into a television adaptation;
- Certain changes are desirable as what works on the page doesn’t necessarily work so well on screen;
- There is nothing in theory wrong with changes, although in works where the plot is of the essence, there seems little point in making gratuitous changes to it and ending up with something that is, in terms of plot, inferior to the original;
- In most works of literary value, the plot is not in itself the most important element, and an interesting interpretation of the original work is, for me, of greater interest than merely slavishly following the plot.
miranda

Ok, but following the plot isn't alway 'slavish'.  Quite often the plot is important to the characters motivations and to events in the story.   I don't mind adaptations that reveal motivations whilst leaving out a fair chunk but it had to be done right.  

To use JK Rowling again, her last two books do need some serious editing.  Especially the middle bit of Deathly Hallows.  That went on for ever!   But if you miss out important bits, as Apple feels they did, then the ensuing story becomes incoherent.   It's a delicate balancing act.

For a good example, how about the BBC's last version of Bleak House?  Generally accepted as a great adaptation.  And a lot of that was to do with the writing.  To keep the characters and story as true as possible to the book leaving out all the superfluous detail that Dickens would put in.   IMO obviously!   Laughing   For me, a good adaptation of a Dickens is far more enjoyable than actually reading his novels!  

To sum up, a good adaptation will add to the novel by revealing layers and managing to keep the best parts of the story.   But a bad adaptation just reduces the story to something simple and loses what ever makes the novel good.   And that's the annoying part!
TheRejectAmidHair

Quote:
I don't mind adaptations that reveal motivations whilst leaving out a fair chunk but it had to be done right.  


Indeed – as you say, it has to be “done right”. The quality of an adaptation has little to do with how closely or otherwise it sticks to the original plot: it depends on whether it’s “done right”. And if the story becomes incoherent in an adaptation, then it clearly wasn’t “done right”: but that is not necessarily because it departed from the original story.

Quote:
For a good example, how about the BBC's last version of Bleak House? Generally accepted as a great adaptation.  


Yes, people generally did like it, but in the immortal words of Lina Lamont, “People? I – ain’t – PEOPLE!”

I don’t want to go yet again through all my objections to that adaptation, except to say that they had nothing to do with its fidelity or otherwise to the original plot.
miranda

Well, I guess we are never gonna agree on this as we never agree on the importance of plot!    Very Happy
Apple

Himadri - I think you misunderstood me I wasn't saying things shouldn't be mucked about with, it should be word for word from the book no room for manoever period, end of story, if its done right it can enhance the story and I actually made that point as well if the adaptation is done right it can make more sense of the story and in some cases make the story better. Done wrong it just becomes a bloody mess and you wonder a. what the hell were they thinking and b. why is that story better than the original one which this is meant to be about. I think we are saying roughly the same thing just in a different way.

Miranda - I totally agree with your comments about Bleak House, I loved that adaptation I thought the characters were well cast and it was tight but kept the important threads of the story and I think that was because it was serialised over a number of weeks rather than having to cram it into a 2 part special or the like, Dickens stories lend themselves to such timescales very well I think, I'm sure someone will disagree with me on that point but thats the way I see it!!
TheRejectAmidHair

Hello Apple, in the first post on this thread, you were clearly objecting to adaptations diverging from the original material:

Apple wrote:
I like my adaptations to be faithful to the book as far as I am concerned if you are going to use a book as material for a film or tv series then whats the bloody point if you are going to alter huge chunks of it, add bits which are not in the book, miss out characters and generally muck about with it.


This does seem to be a bit at odds with what you say in your latest post:

Apple wrote:
I wasn't saying things shouldn't be mucked about with


Needless to say, I agree with what you say in your last posting rather than what you said in the earlier one. And if we can agree on this point, I think we are making progress. We can now agree, I think, that the point of adapting is not necessarily to stay close to the original, but to create a film (or television drama) based on the original material that works well on its own terms.

Now, if we are agreed on that, we can, I think, go one step further and argue that it is possible for an adaptation to work well on its own terms even when it alters significantly the plot of the original. I gave an example of this in the film version of Stevenson’s Kidnapped, in which the scriptwriter, Jack Pulman, changed the plot of the original quite significantly, but nonetheless managed to make it work well on its own terms. (The film is let down by lacklustre direction and by the eccentric casting of Michael Caine as a Scottish highlander, but if we are considering merely the script, then I  really can’t see how it can be faulted.) The original story is superb, and so is Jack Pulman’s version. Nothing to complain about on either score.
Klara Z

This is an interesting topic and there are no easy answers. It all comes down to the vexed question of 'do the  changes, some of which may be necessary edits because the original book is too long for a three hour film and some of which are creative additions, conflict with the spirit of  the book?' And at what point does a creative interpretation turn into a travesty?

I agree with Apple that the cafe scene in the last HP was unsatisfactory---but, on the other hand, I don't think the original opening scene in the novel (i.e the 'Muggle' P.M meeting Fudge) would have worked on screen---something more momentous was needed to suggest Voldemort's growing power. So maybe the later addition of burning of the burrow worked on that level.

I'm ready to defend a number of film versions of novels where changes were made---but I felt the film of 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin' was a disaster---not just because of Nicolas Cage, bad as he was, but because of SPOILER ALERT the many happy endings to plot strands that were either tragic or elegaic in the book. It was a complete distortion.
TheRejectAmidHair

I haven’t read Captain Corelli’s Mandolin nor seen the film, but the question I’d like to pose is:

Was the film bad because it deviated from the book towards the end? Or was the film bad because the ending it provided was crap, irrespective of whether or not I deviated from the book?

The two are not quite the same. It is demonstrably possible to deviate from the book and still create something that is good on its own terms.
Klara Z

That's a difficult one, Himadri! The film was certainly very saccharine, avoiding all the complexities of the book, and therefore very sentimental----as was, you might say, Disney's cartoon version of 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame'. But the latter was for children. (and children would be horrified and traumatised by the real story!) and the film of 'Captain Corelli was supposed to be for adults, who would, presumably, have been able to face the real tragedies of war.

So---maybe a lost opportunity to make a moving film---as opposed to reducing a good book to 'chick lit' level....
Evie

I haven't seen the film of Captain Corelli, but  the ending to the book was crap too, so perhaps it's just not possible to end that story well!  But I know I am in a minority in being underwhelmed by the novel as a whole.
Green Jay

Evie wrote:
I haven't seen the film of Captain Corelli, but  the ending to the book was crap too, so perhaps it's just not possible to end that story well!  But I know I am in a minority in being underwhelmed by the novel as a whole.


I'm with you on that one - I felt it could have done with an eviscerating editor. The second chapter all from Mussolini's point of view (I think it was, anyway someone odd who never cropped up again) nearly did for me. And the latter-day ending, rather depressing I thought. But the core of the book was pretty good. I haven't seen the whole of the film, only a few scenes, as for me Nicolas Cage as the intelligent sensitive mandolin-strumming Captain was a leap of imagination too far.
priscilla-of-padua

Transposing to another art form is bound to demand change; 'Oliver' the musical is a good example of that. I wonder if it is possible to make an excellent film from a poor book? The reverse is possible as we all know.

It happens in the art world too - just think of what has happened to the Mona Lisa .... some of it has been clever and most of it rubbish  - yet does any of it deminish the quality of the original? I don't think so.

Regards, P.
Caro

I don't suppose it detracts from the original, but I think it can alter our feelings for the original.  (I can't talk about the Mona Lisa which I found quite disappointing when I saw it in the original.)

But I find the endless fascination by television and film with Jane Austen seems to have lessened my desire to read the originals.  I feel a bit ho hum "It's just Jane Austen" when years ago I really enjoyed and I think appreciated these books.   (Not Persuasion where I couldn't find much in Anne to admire.  I seemed to have a similar attitude to her as I did to Jane Eyre, I think.)

It may just indicate a shallowness on my part that lots of interpretations of these works do seem to have lessened my interest.  I have got bored with it all.

Cheers, Caro.
TheRejectAmidHair

priscilla-of-padua wrote:
I wonder if it is possible to make an excellent film from a poor book?


One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest certainly comes to mind.

And Clint Eastwood's excellent The Outlaw Josey Wales was based on an apparently run-of-the-mill pulp western novel. (I haven't read the original book - I'd be surprised if it is still in print.)
Klara Z

I think that Stanley Kubrick's  film of 'Barry Lyndon'  was excellent, whereas the original Thackeray novel isn't anything special---possibly just a piece of hack work. So---a good film based on an indifferent book, in my view.


Evie--why do you say the ending of  the novel 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin' was 'crap'? I found the ending of the film 'crap', but I thought the ending of the novel was subtle and convincing. (I'm not, though, such a huge fan of the book as some, and probably wouldn't read it again.)
MikeAlx

I think Pinter & Losey's "The Servant" is much better than Robin Maugham's novella (though I wouldn't call the latter crap) - but I know Gareth has the opposite opinion!  Smile
TheRejectAmidHair

I gather also that the first two Godfather films are far superior to the original novel, although no doubt a former contributor to this board would take issue with that.

And, although I haven’t read the book, I’d be surprised indeed if Dennis Wheatley’s The Devil Rides Out is anywhere near as good as that magnificent Hammer film bearing that title!
Chibiabos83

I certainly did have that opinion a few years ago when I watched the film and read the book in close proximity (the book first, I think). I remember thinking the film a little ponderous. However, I feel bound to revise my opinion at some point - if not of the book then at least of the film. I generally love the Pinter/Losey collaborations, and am in a minority on this board in loving Dirk Bogarde in spite of his superciliousness (which I dare say comes in handy in The Servant)
Apple

Himadri - I am not contradicting myself at all and my posts are not at odds I am saying I like my adaptations to be reasonably faithful to the book or there is not point in doing them or if they are part of of a series the essential threads of the story can be lost. But sometimes I accept changes and tweaks have to be made I had made this point earlier, unfortunately it was on another thread, not this one and I did get a bit mixed up thinking it was on this thread I had made that comment on so,(which is where possibly the confusion has arisen)  so there is no more misunderstanding that I am contadicting myself I have quoted myself from the comment off the other thread! (Its about the third comment I made on the review I did of the latest HP film - just in case anyone is bothered)

Thanks hope that clears it up

I wrote:
Quote:
I'm just really picky my thoughts are if you are going to make a film about a book then you make it about the book not add things here and there which have no relevance and leave things out which are important to the story!!  I really enjoyed the the first two films they were very close to the book but Azkaban also left me with the feeling that they changed things for the sake of it. Goblet of Fire and Phoenix I thought were the best adaptations as they were very long books and impossible to be made into a film without tweaks and something being changed or omitted. But the way they did it I felt actually made more sense to the story than the way JK Rowling had originally written it.  It was as if someone had actually thought about how to change it without losing the thread of the story, whereas with this one it felt like someone just went through the book saying forget that forget that forget that, we'll use that because that will be a good big effects scene, hang on we've cut out quite a bit never mind we'll just make a scene up and shove it in doesn't matter if its not in the book!!


So the point I am making again is adaptations should be as near as damn it to the book, or there is no point doing it there are obvious exceptions and when it has to be done it should be done properly and stuff should definately not be made up and put in which wasn't even there in the first place.  I feel like I am repeating myself over and over and no one seems to get the point I am trying to make. So I am going to shut up now!!  Smile
TheRejectAmidHair

Hello Apple, thank you for the clarification:

Apple wrote:
Himadri - I am not contradicting myself at all and my posts are not at odds I am saying I like my adaptations to be reasonably faithful to the book or there is not point in doing them or if they are part of of a series the essential threads of the story can be lost. But sometimes I accept changes and tweaks have to be made I had made this point earlier, unfortunately it was on another thread, not this one and I did get a bit mixed up thinking it was on this thread I had made that comment on so,(which is where possibly the confusion has arisen)  so there is no more misunderstanding that I am contadicting myself I have quoted myself from the comment off the other thread! (Its about the third comment I made on the review I did of the latest HP film - just in case anyone is bothered)

Thanks hope that clears it up


Of course, when you use the term "reasonably faithful", much hinges on what one understands by the word “reasonably”: I imagine that would vary from individual to individual, as what strikes me, say, as reasonable may not strike someone else as such.

But even given that point, I think my opinion of film adaptations is somewhat different from yours. For me, if a film version or a television version of a novel, say, makes significant changes from the original (irrespective of how we may define “significant”), and still produces something that satisfies on its own terms, then I cannot see the making of that adaptation as a pointless exercise. In short, I do not think that an adaptation need necessarily be a representation.
miranda

But if it satisfies on its own term, why call it an adaptation?  Why not name it something else?

No novel or film ever has a story that has not been used before.
TheRejectAmidHair

miranda wrote:
But if it satisfies on its own term, why call it an adaptation?  Why not name it something else?


Fair enough. What do you suggest we call it?

Sorry, I don't mean to be facetious. But when you take existing material, and adapt it into something that is different from the existing material, then, by definition, what you have is an "adaptation". There's nothing in the definition of the word "adaptation" to indicate that it has to be close, either in letter or in spirit, to the material from which it is being adapted.
Castorboy

I suppose a shortened version of a book in whatever medium which has scenes left out could be described as an abridgement or an abridged version of the book. Whereas a version which has scenes or characters added which are not in the original story could have the disclaimer based on the book in the list of credits. As a viewer I need to be informed whether I am watching something close to the original or an interpretation by those involved in the production of this new version. When a book is adapted for another medium I expect as much poetic licence to be taken by the adapter as needed for this new version but I also expect to have an indication of how closely the adapter has kept to the book.
miranda

I agree with Castorboy.   If it is based on then I pretty much expect it won't be a lot like the book and I accept the film/programme on its own terms.   But for me, an adaptation should be a lot nearer to the original source.  And I get annoyed when it isn't, especially if it's a favourite of mine.  

Which is why I often avoid adaptations!   Laughing
miranda

TheRejectAmidHair wrote:


But when you take existing material, and adapt it into something that is different from the existing material, then, by definition, what you have is an "adaptation". There's nothing in the definition of the word "adaptation" to indicate that it has to be close, either in letter or in spirit, to the material from which it is being adapted.


Hmmm... maybe I'm more cynical than you but I sometimes get the feeling that film/programme makers claim something is an adaptation just so they can get what they want made.  Calling something a 'Miss Marple' will get a lot of people to watch it.  Whereas they may not if it's an unknown detective or an unknown author.    As in the latest ITV Marples.

To me, it smacks of cowardice.
Apple

Castorboy Wrote:
Quote:
I suppose a shortened version of a book in whatever medium which has scenes left out could be described as an abridgement or an abridged version of the book. Whereas a version which has scenes or characters added which are not in the original story could have the disclaimer based on the book in the list of credits. As a viewer I need to be informed whether I am watching something close to the original or an interpretation by those involved in the production of this new version. When a book is adapted for another medium I expect as much poetic licence to be taken by the adapter as needed for this new version but I also expect to have an indication of how closely the adapter has kept to the book.


Exactly, another good example of that would be some tv series which are made and say it is based on the characters of a certain book and that leads me to believe its got nothing whatsoever to do with the original book(s) but just happens to have used the characters as an idea for a show/film.  Which is a bit of a rip when you think about it thats these tv/film makers can't come up with something either original or a reasonable adapation of what is there, but some sort of mutated hybid of the two.

Miranda Wrote:
Quote:
Hmmm... maybe I'm more cynical than you but I sometimes get the feeling that film/programme makers claim something is an adaptation just so they can get what they want made.  Calling something a 'Miss Marple' will get a lot of people to watch it.  Whereas they may not if it's an unknown detective or an unknown author.    As in the latest ITV Marples.


Thats a very good point, which also goes some way to explain why we get endless different "adaptations" of the same things over and over again.

also

Miranda wrote:
Quote:
But for me, an adaptation should be a lot nearer to the original source.  And I get annoyed when it isn't, especially if it's a favourite of mine.  


Same here!! which is why I refuse to speak of the latest Miss Marple decination! Very Happy
TheRejectAmidHair

miranda wrote:
 But for me, an adaptation should be a lot nearer to the original source.  


I don’t know that it’s possible to state what an adaptation “should be” without first agreeing on a definition of the word “adaptation”.

Of course, you are entitled to your personal opinion on what kind of adaptation you personally prefer: that’s fair enough. But we shouldn’t confuse a statement of personal preference with an objective definition.

An “adaptation” is simply something that is adapted from something else. That’s all. Anything that is adapted from something else, whether or not it is faithful to the original material, is an “adaptation”.

miranda wrote:
Hmmm... maybe I'm more cynical than you but I sometimes get the feeling that film/programme makers claim something is an adaptation just so they can get what they want made.  Calling something a 'Miss Marple' will get a lot of people to watch it.  Whereas they may not if it's an unknown detective or an unknown author.    As in the latest ITV Marples.


I don’t know this has anything to do with cynicism or otherwise, as I really have no opinion to express on the intentions of those who make these adaptations!
MikeAlx

One adaptation that's not been discussed... is the film 'Adaptation', in which Charlie Kaufman's screenplay veers wildly away from the book it's supposed to be adapting, and becomes a meditation on the theme of adaptation itself.
miranda

TheRejectAmidHair wrote:
miranda wrote:
 But for me, an adaptation should be a lot nearer to the original source.  


I don’t know that it’s possible to state what an adaptation “should be” without first agreeing on a definition of the word “adaptation”.

Of course, you are entitled to your personal opinion on what kind of adaptation you personally prefer: that’s fair enough. But we shouldn’t confuse a statement of personal preference with an objective definition.


But I didn't.  I used the words 'for me' at the beginning of the sentence to express a personal opinion.  
TheRejectAmidHair

Sorry Miranda, I  am just trying to clarify exactly what it is we are discussing here. Are we discussing what an adaptation is? Or are we discussing what makes an adaptation good? The first is objective, and its definition should be uncontroversial.

I appreciate you said:

" But for me, an adaptation should be a lot nearer to the original source. "

But I am not clear from this whether you are stating a subjective preference ("But for me..."), or whether you are laying down the law on what an adaptation "should be". (I think we may agree that "should be" is imperative.) I don't think there's any "should be" about it.

If you are merely stating a personal prefernce, that is, as I said, fair enough. But in an earlier post, you had said:

"But if it satisfies on its own term, why call it an adaptation?  Why not name it something else? "

In the context of what we had been saying, the implication of this is that if an adaptation diverges from the original, then it forfeits the right to be called an adaptation, even if it satisfies on its own terms. And I very strongly disagree with that.
miranda

I meant that if an 'adaptation' is so removed from the original that it is barely recognisable (as in the latest Marples) that does it really count as adaptation?   Is not something else?   Like a cheat to get people to watch it?  

The plot of the last Marple wasn't a bad plot but it was nothing like the AC original.  So why dress it as one?  


And Himadri, I never lay down the law......

Very Happy
TheRejectAmidHair

miranda wrote:

And Himadri, I never lay down the law......

Very Happy


Huh! Sez you!  Wink
Caro

Extending this topic further (and probably quite off-topic really), I have come across a couple of things recently where I wonder if the changes are quite legitimate.  In one the author has been clear about what she has done which I suppose makes it all right, but in the other we were not told about these changes.

One is in a book I am reading which is subtitles "A culinary journey through Kiwi Kitchens from the 1930s to the present day" and has recipes interspersed with (fictionalised) accounts of day-to-day life of the times.  The author says in her introduction, "The recipes are true to their decade, but in the interests of better eating many have been altered slightly to incorporate modern ingredients, methods and machines."  So thus instead of mutton fat for browning meat and vegetables she uses olive oil and butter.  It does seem that she is letting us know of these changes as she writes.  But it is not quite authentic.

I see I have written spoilers, so please beware.



And last night we watched Miss Potter and very much liked it (I think Zoe Zellweger is a delightful actress and does very well in this).  But we wondered if it was all completely accurate historically and when I looked up the internet there was comment about changes.  These changes tightened the film and romantised it a bit (the books were out of sequence, to allow the Jemima Puddle-duck story to be included; it did not mention that Beatrix Potter had self-published before she met her publisher and later fiancee; it insinuated he died of TB when it was pernicious anaemia (presumably harder for an audience to understand and perhaps the sort of disease that has obvious symptoms which would not improve Ewan McGregor's attractive looks); it made one character part of her early life when he wasn't.  This has made me wonder if there were other parts that weren't factually true (her family background, the portrayal of her parents, for instance).  

The film was good on its own merits but it is portrayed as fact and I would like a little disclaimer.  I have seen many criticisms of Braveheart on its historical accuracy (though I suspect it is not seen so badly in Scotland).  

Cheers, Caro.
TheRejectAmidHair

Caro wrote:
 I have seen many criticisms of Braveheart on its historical accuracy (though I suspect it is not seen so badly in Scotland).  


Depends on the audience, I think. I know many Scots who find the film deeply embarrassing.
MikeAlx

The ones who know - or care - about history, presumably.
iwishiwas

Quote:
And last night we watched Miss Potter and very much liked it (I think Zoe Zellweger is a delightful actress and does very well in this).  


Is she the lesser known sister of Renee?
Caro

Oops, sorry.  So busy ensuring I spelt her surname right (and I was looking at her name as I typed that!) I got her first name muddled, presumably with Zoe Wanamaker.  

I haven't seen Braveheart but would the historical inaccuracies be obvious to an audience, or do you have to know it beforehand or learn about it later?  I feel these sort of changes should be heralded somehow in the movie.  We are not just talking about matters of interpretation, are we?

Cheers, Caro.
Apple

Don't get me started on "historical" films according to Hollywood two blokes in Hawaiian shirts saved the day when the Japs bombed Pearl Harbour!!
TheRejectAmidHair

Distorting history for dramatic ends is a time-honoured practice. It can be done well or it can be done badly; or, if you’re Shakespeare, it can be done brilliantly.

It’s probably up to the audience to change its expectations in these matters: if one wants to understand history then one should read a history book rather than watch a film. Cinema and theatre are essentially dramatic, and one should watch a film or a play expecting drama rather than historical accuracy.

For instance, the film The Great Escape was based on an historical event. Now, I would be very surprised indeed if the film were to bear any resemblance at all to what really happened. But because it works so well as a film, no-one complains. This is because the point was to create an enjoyable film rather than to give us a history lesson. The reason Braveheart is so embarrassing is not so much because it distorts history (that is only to be expected from a film), but because, for many of us (including many Scots), its flag-waving jingoism is crude, and what drama it provides is simple-minded and, basically, rather crap.

As with adaptations from existing novels, all that matters in the end is whether the film works on its own terms.
Apple

Himadri - you would think right, the scene where Steve McQueen drives his motorbike over the border just did not happen, one of the escapees did actually reach the border but was captured before crossing it.

I have to agree with you on this point, when historical events are portrayed if things are jazzed up a bit to make the viewing more entertaining then fair enough if it works but when huge chunks of fact are altered or ommitted as they they sometimes are in war films, you watch some and you would think the Americans won the war all by themselves without anyone else involved!! (no offence to any US posters on the board!)
TheRejectAmidHair

I think that's my point. If one does not object to the historical inaccuracies of The Great Escape, then it follows that historical inaccuracy in itself is not something to be objected to. The nature of the objection lies elsewhere.
MikeAlx

What annoys me most, though, is when a more interesting story is ignored in favour of plot-by-numbers pap. This was my main objection to Enigma - the real story of Alan Turing was far more interesting, and much darker. I could just picture Robert Harris' publisher telling him: "For God's sake man, make your hero straight! If you make him gay, you'll lose millions of readers in the US alone!"
Apple

I was really disapointed with Enigma I have visited Bletchley Park and have read numerous factual books on the the story of the code breakers and the enigma machine and Alan Turing and everything and it just did not do any of it any justice at all.

On a slightly related subject, it was nice that Alan Turing's family finally got an apology recently for the apalling way he was treated, which resulted in his death.
Chibiabos83

And excellent news today that Bletchley Park will be given £500,000 of lottery funding. I hope the issue of its long-term survival will be addressed soon.
MikeAlx

As with the apology - about bleedin' time!
Apple

It's about bloody time as well!! thats great news it was a total disgrace that something with as much historical value and heritage as Bletchley Park a place which shortened the war considerably and saved lives be left forgotten and allowed to rot.

They were desperate for cash when we went to visit, a couple of years ago. The sad thing is though they said if every visitor who walked through the doors donated just £1 they would have enough money for many many years. Its a fabulous place to visit on so many levels even if you are not too interested in WW2 there is Colossus and there is a working replica of the Bombe so its fascinating from a engineering point of view.
Castorboy

MikeAlx wrote:
...the real story of Alan Turing was far more interesting, and much darker.

There was a film or TV documentary made of Turing's life which was shown on one of our TV stations a few years ago. It concluded with a picture of a road sign in Manchester named something like Alan Turing Way.

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