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Books That Would Make Great Adaptations 
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Post Books That Would Make Great Adaptations
As Hollywood (or your favorite indie studio) can be relied upon for releasing a large number of films based upon novels, it would seem that many of your favorites would get The Treatment. But there will be some that escape the producer's desk due to various difficulties.

Assuming you could adapt any novel you wanted, which would you choose and how do you see the adaptation (i.e., done in animation, black & white, a silent movie...)?

Cast it however you like, budget is not an issue. If the book has already been adapted but, in your opinion, incorrectly what would you do differently?


Wed Mar 03, 2010 5:04 pm
Post Re: Books That Would Make Great Adaptations
The members of Reelviews seem to prefer original stories to literary adaptations. Good for them!

I recently finished Neuromancer which I really enjoyed. I also think the material would translate well to the big screen.

The main problem is that there are quite a few similarities to The Matrix, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Any adaptation would likely need a large budget and the words "similar to The Matrix" should loosen a studio's pockets pretty easily.

So I'd adapt Neuromancer and market it as a "big" summer movie. Cast and crew are flexible. I wouldn't give it to Michael Bay and Shia Lebeouf, but I'm up for any director who has shown a capability to make a GOOD summer movie (Chris Nolan et al.).


Thu Mar 04, 2010 3:01 pm
Post Re: Books That Would Make Great Adaptations
I think the trick is to find source material that creates strong images in the head of the reader, but doesn't necessarily have the most stylized prose--prose being the most distinctive characteristic of a book that film cannot handle nearly as well.

There's a Larry McMurtry novel called All My Friends Are Going To Be Strangers, which I always thought would make a good movie. The ending is a little abstract, which might be hard to deal with on film, unless the filmmakers are really visionary. The rest of it seems pretty adaptable. It could be a good Barton Fink kind of thing.


Thu Mar 04, 2010 3:53 pm
Post Re: Books That Would Make Great Adaptations
I think short stories would be good simply because their very nature makes them more focused in their themes and plots. An example of this is the short story Flowers for Algernon which was adapted into the film Charlie, starring Cliff Robertson (he who played Uncle Ben in the Spiderman films).


Thu Mar 04, 2010 5:39 pm
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Post Re: Books That Would Make Great Adaptations
Ragnarok73 wrote:
I think short stories would be good simply because their very nature makes them more focused in their themes and plots. An example of this is the short story Flowers for Algernon which was adapted into the film Charlie, starring Cliff Robertson (he who played Uncle Ben in the Spiderman films).


Hmmm I disagree. Most short stories don't seem to make very good movies (e.g. A Sound of Thunder, The Box) because their very nature makes them too short for feature expansion. The example you provide, Flowers for Algernon, was indeed initially a short story/novella but had been expanded by its author into a novel before the film went into production.

That said, I'd love Werner Herzog to direct a new version of The Mosquito Coast. I love Peter Weir's other work, but the story of Allie Fox going mad in Honduras was MADE to be adapted by Herzog, who has made such stories his metier for 40 years.

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Thu Mar 04, 2010 5:55 pm
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Post Re: Books That Would Make Great Adaptations
I'm still finalizing my real entry but in the meantime.....


I would like to see a live action version of Watership Down using real rabbits on a cgi landscape ala 300 or Sin City. Zack Snyder would obviously be the choice to direct and Fiver would be voiced by Gerard Butler. Can you imagine this greatness..... Madness? THIS IS SANDLEFORD!!!!!! Slo mo rabbit kicks and rabbit fighting commence. Oh man. I can't wait.


Thu Mar 04, 2010 9:08 pm
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Post Re: Books That Would Make Great Adaptations
stiefmo wrote:
I'm still finalizing my real entry but in the meantime.....


I would like to see a live action version of Watership Down using real rabbits on a cgi landscape ala 300 or Sin City. Zack Snyder would obviously be the choice to direct and Fiver would be voiced by Gerard Butler. Can you imagine this greatness..... Madness? THIS IS SANDLEFORD!!!!!! Slo mo rabbit kicks and rabbit fighting commence. Oh man. I can't wait.


Stiefmo...are you my new man-crush? Between this comment and your St. Louis Cardinals love I'm coming dangerously close to stalking you. Watership Down is my favorite book, and I've long pondered a non-sucky adaptation. Oh you're such a dreamboat

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Thu Mar 04, 2010 9:39 pm
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Post Re: Books That Would Make Great Adaptations
*kicks that dirt off his shoulder.


Thu Mar 04, 2010 9:50 pm
Post Re: Books That Would Make Great Adaptations
JamesKunz wrote:
Ragnarok73 wrote:
I think short stories would be good simply because their very nature makes them more focused in their themes and plots. An example of this is the short story Flowers for Algernon which was adapted into the film Charlie, starring Cliff Robertson (he who played Uncle Ben in the Spiderman films).


Hmmm I disagree. Most short stories don't seem to make very good movies (e.g. A Sound of Thunder, The Box) because their very nature makes them too short for feature expansion. The example you provide, Flowers for Algernon, was indeed initially a short story/novella but had been expanded by its author into a novel before the film went into production.

I do have to say that the scenes in Charlie where Cliff just goes on a binge of biking, boozing, and sex seemed to be a bit of psychedelic filler to make the film feature length. It was still a pretty good adaptation overall IMO, though.


Thu Mar 04, 2010 11:27 pm
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Post Re: Books That Would Make Great Adaptations
Ragnarok73 wrote:
I do have to say that the scenes in Charlie where Cliff just goes on a binge of biking, boozing, and sex seemed to be a bit of psychedelic filler to make the film feature length.


Honestly that's one of the most out-of-place scenes I've ever seen in a motion picture. I looked at my then-girlfriend, now-wife with shock and horror and was like "What on earth is going on?" Someone read the short story/novel and said "Hmmm this is really powerful stuff, but imagine what it would be like with a 10 minute sequence of Cliff Robertson in a biker gang?"

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Thu Mar 04, 2010 11:30 pm
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Post Re: Books That Would Make Great Adaptations
Ken wrote:
I think the trick is to find source material that creates strong images in the head of the reader, but doesn't necessarily have the most stylized prose--prose being the most distinctive characteristic of a book that film cannot handle nearly as well.


That's right. Attempts to adapt Sterne (Tristram Shandy) James Joyce (Ulysses) have been failures. The Tristram Shandy adaptation was a deliberate failure as Michael Winterbottom knew the task of applying narrative to a free-form 600-page prologue was impossible. It works as a deliberate failure while the adaptation of Ulysses (which I haven't seen) would necessarily struggle -- the novel is very much how its written, not what it's about. Most great novels are married to prose style.

Some adaptations work -- No Country For Old Men, which I wasn't particularly crazy about as a novel or a movie, found the correct balance with McCarthy's prose. The lack of a score was a master touch.

Anyhow.

As Ken indicated, the more brilliant the imagery the better the adaptation's potential. So I created this thread with a few novels in mind. Links to said novels will be provided if you're unfamiliar with what I'm spewing on about.

The Children's Hospital by Chris Adrian -- A 500-page rewrite of Genesis with a children's cancer ward in place of a boat. There's some stunning imagery to be mined -- a floating hospital, for one. There's also some details (such as a VCR that changes your favorite movies into iterations of your favorite movie, generally with more hardcore sex) that would be fairly pleasing to see done in a non sci-fi film. I see it as a miniseries, kind of like Von Trier's The Kingdom. Fascinating, flawed novel. Lots of bright colors and, for those initial shots, sepia sepia sepia. Anne Hathaway was the first lead I thought of.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt -- Philosophy students accidentally kill someone during bacchanal and spend a lot of time trying to cover it up while keeping their peppy demeanors. The book wasn't particularly good but it could be a great B&W movie. The White Ribbon reminded me how great a modern film can look with the proper film stock -- I imagine this novel could be made moody beyond all measure with a humorless (read: Hanekeful) treatment. A cast of unknowns here.

[url=http://www.librarything.com/work/4835587]
The Mayor's Tongue by Nathaniel Rich[/url] -- This one was surrounded with all kinds of hype pre-release and is now available, in first edition hardback, in most dollar bins. I recommend you pick up a copy and read it. It's a mix of mystery and grotesque fantasy. See where I'm going with this? The mystery could be handled like, say, Mulholland Drive's middle segment while the fantasy -- just let Peter Jackson do his thing. Let him cast anyone he wants. But not Elijah Wood. Or that Astin guy.

More later. Very tired. Sorry.


Fri Mar 05, 2010 12:11 am
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Post Re: Books That Would Make Great Adaptations
Not a novel, but I would love to see a documentary of John Feinstein's inside-the-locker-room books. I'd love to see how the inner working of NFL, PGA, NBA and MLB locker rooms and how they really are rather than tiny soundbites we hear on ESPN and thier ilk.


Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:34 am
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Post Re: Books That Would Make Great Adaptations
Someone (Ragnarok73?) posted a thread about a possible Dune reboot. I say, bring it on! I'd prefer a television adaptation since the novel is far too massive to whittle into feature length.


Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:38 pm
Post Re: Books That Would Make Great Adaptations
ed_metal_head wrote:
Someone (Ragnarok73?) posted a thread about a possible Dune reboot. I say, bring it on! I'd prefer a television adaptation since the novel is far too massive to whittle into feature length.

It was actually someone else who started that thread, though I did comment in it. I'd love to see a faithful adaptation of Herbert's great work, but I'm pessimistic that it will ever happen. There've been the 2 attempts already, and both were disappointments (seriously, whose idea was it to get DAVID LYNCH to direct an adaptation?).


Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:51 pm
Post Re: Books That Would Make Great Adaptations
I'm still waiting for someone to do a good adaptation of a Dean Koontz book. Some of them are ridiculous and cheesy, others would work as movies. Aside from the first half hour of Phantoms, everything else I've seen is crap.

Well, Alexandre Aja kind of "adapted" one when he did Haute Tension.

Do graphic novels count as books? How about using the Fantastic Mr. Fox-type animation for an adaptation of Maus?


Tue Mar 16, 2010 6:46 am
Post Re: Books That Would Make Great Adaptations
Funny you should say that. I just listened to a podcast interview with Spiegelman the other day, in which he argued why Maus would fail miserably as animation.


Tue Mar 16, 2010 8:10 pm
Post Re: Books That Would Make Great Adaptations
I think that Christopher Moore's vampire books, Bloodsucking Fiends, You Suck, and (I'm assuming) the soon-to-be-released Bite Me would make good movies. And, considering the vampire craze, they would probably be pretty profitable. Much of the humor in the books comes from little asides and observations that Moore makes in the writing, not necessarily through the characters, so I don't know how well that would translate. But they are solid stories and would make excellent films.


Tue Mar 16, 2010 8:58 pm
Post Re: Books That Would Make Great Adaptations
I'd enjoy seeing a well-made version of The Maneaters of Tsavo. "Ghost and Darkness" was decent, but deviated too far from the actual story in that it introduced the Michael Douglas character which didn't exist in reality. Until "Cast Away", movies just weren't made with one solitaire charactor bearing the weight of the action. Now, I believe it could be made well.

Robb White's Deathwatch could be a decent thriller. I hear a TV movie was made of it, but eh... :roll:

There's also a little known juvie nov out there called "The Red Car" by Don Stanford. Done as a clean, no-nonsense period film, I think it could be done as well as "Sea Biscuit".


Fri Mar 19, 2010 3:33 pm
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Post Re: Books That Would Make Great Adaptations
Awf Hand wrote:
Done as a clean, no-nonsense period film, I think it could be done as well as "Sea Biscuit".


Talk about damning with faint praise...

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Fri Mar 19, 2010 3:48 pm
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Post Re: Books That Would Make Great Adaptations
Oh...that one by J.D Salinger. :D

I used to think that Franny and Zooey would make a good movie, back when, WAY back when I read it in high school. But I'm not so sure about that anymore. I decided to visit the Wikipedia page of that particular book for a refresher and after reading it I found myself thinking about The Royal Tenenbaums for some odd reason. Check it out if you feel so inclined and see if you catch any of those vibes.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franny_and_zooey


Sat Mar 20, 2010 12:19 am
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