Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Movie v, Book

Over the last few weeks, I have read two novels after seeing the movie. In the first case, BROOKLYN, the movie followed the book slavishly. Not a bad thing though when your original source was this strong. There was really no reason to stray from the text.

In the second case, THE PRICE OF SALT (Highsmith) becomes CAROL and it deviates a lot more from the novel. A large portion of THE PRICE OF SALT is a cross-country trek by the two female lovers. They are followed by a detective, which adds a lot of excitement and tension. Although the detective is in the movie, he plays a much less chilling role. Also in the book, we get inside Therese's head and this adds so much to the story. Carol is still enigmatic but now we know what Therese is thinking. This brought a lot more warmth to the story. We see the difficulties of a young woman embarking on what will be an alternative life style-especially in the 1950s. There are also some interesting discussions of the differences between homosexual and heterosexual relationships.

I am not really asking which films have done the best job of translating a novel to screen but instead which books when you read them later had to make changes because of the structure of the novel. BROOKLYN, almost none and CAROL, quite a lot. Last week, the changes in THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM were vast. Part of that was because (I think) they wanted a happy ending. And did not want Frank Sinatra to play a more villainous character. Interesting the things that lead to changes in the script.


11 comments:

George said...

Translating the story from one medium to another is always tricky. Going from a book to a movie becomes more complicated because of the money at stake. Investors want a return on their investment. Movies with downbeat endings tend to make less money than movies with "happy" endings. Changes from the book to the movie are almost always "commercial" considerations not artistic decisions.

Deb said...

When I first saw GONE WITH THE WIND, I realized that a movie can have most of the same characters, settings, and even dialog of the source book and still be completely different in tone and delivery, I always try to keep novel and film adaptation as separate entities in my mind. I mean, there's no scene in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE where Mr. Darcy emerges from a lake, but I must admit I'm not sorry it was added to the 1994 adaptation.

Mathew Paust said...

One of my all-time favorite movies and books--The Maltese Falcon--seem to me virtually identical. I haven't studied them closely, but I've read the book half a dozen times, about the same for the movie. "By Gad, sir, you are a character. There's never any telling what you'll say or do next, except that it's bound to be something astonishing."

Chris said...

Anyone who goes to see The Revenant thinking it has much relationship to Michael Punke's book are going to be very surprised. Two completely different tellings of a vaguely true story.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have never read a comment from Deb that didn't make me either smile or nod.
Yes, there are a few that are amazingly faithful as was BROOKLYN. But most directors seem to like to put their spin on it.

Todd Mason said...

Not solely directors but also adaptive scriptwriters, and certainly producers. Among my favorite examples not yet mentioned, IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT and its shift of Tibbs from San Francisco to Philadelphia, of all cities (imagine Tibbs serving under Rizzo); PSYCHO, where the film is rather faithful...but cuts the last quarter-fifth off the novel, telescoping it rather clumsily. The "alternate" versions of THE MALTESE FALCON and CONJURE WIFE are pretty dire, but the third FALCON and the second of three WIFEs, NIGHT OF THE EAGLE, are pretty faithful and much better for it. I'm not too sure that too many films need to deviate much from their source novels, though some clearly profit from revamping the book (DR. STRANGELOVE) or sharper scripting than the writing of the novel (THE GODFATHER; THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE).

Margot Kinberg said...

Interesting question, Patti! I admit, I'm pretty much of a purist when it comes to film adaptations. That said, I do think there are books that would need a lot of changes if they went to film. Hmmm, I'll have to ponder that one.

Dana King said...

I remember thinking how close to the book the movie GET SHORTY held itself, until I got the flu and watched and movie and read the book back-to-back. The tone and dialog and high points are so well captured not even an aficionado such as myself noticed some fairly major differences until I saw/read them in close quarters.

THE MALTESE FALCON is my favorite example of a movie that stuck close to the book, and for good reason. I've seen the movie and read the book multiple times. The only differences I can find were due to Hayes office restrictions. (In the book Wilmer Cook is NOT standing under the streetlight when Spade gets Brigid to spend the night, and Spade does NIOT go into the bathroom with her while she undresses while everyone is looking for the $100 Gutman palmed.

Prince said...

This is really interesting

Todd Mason said...

This last comment is the weirdest piece of blog-spamming I've yet seen. It's a comment designed to get you to look at the sender's site.

pattinase (abbott) said...

And it worked!