Matt asks: what about William Goldman's adaptation of his book The Princess Bride
? Pretty good, no?
I certainly wouldn't diss Goldman adapting his own work. And I'd add Michael Crichton's many adaptations of his own novels, e.g. Jurassic Park
, which did OK at the box office as I recall. [He shared credit with David Koepp. Also created E.R.]
Of course a novelist can adapt his own book if he understands what a screenplay is. If the writer is familiar with both forms, it can work brilliantly. What's needed is for the writer to re-imagine his story in the new medium, which means giving up some of the beauties of the old medium.
It's usually pretty easy to spot an adaptation, even by a fresh screenwriter. There are scenes that play on their own without forwarding the plot. There are characters who seem important but don't justify their importance. I still go with Hitchcock's technique. Read the book once, or even a couple of times. Then put it down and write the script. Whatever you remember is probably important. Whatever you forget, probably isn't.
I believe David Keopp did the Jurassic apaptation, did he not?
That's my memory of it - though I loved Critchon's original script WESTWORLD, which he also directed.
John Irving's adaptation of CIDER HOUSE RULES was great, and he won a deserved Oscar for it as well.
There are so many risks inherent in adaptations; even if the novelist likes it, that doesn't necessarily mean it's going to work for the casual moviegoer. Case in point: The Black Dahlia.
Not to diss Josh Friedman, but I'd definitely have made some different choices, had I been doing the adaptation. The most common reaction to the reveal of the murderer appears to have been "Who? Wait a minute, what?" The character hadn't been given enough screen-time to make them a viable suspect, and so audiences were confused.
Yet James Ellroy was thrilled with Friedman's script and DePalma's final product.
FYI, David Benioff's first screenplay was an adaptation of his book 25th Hour. It's amazing to read both and compare.
Back to Complications Ensue main blog page.