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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

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.

By Blogger Joshua James, at 11:15 AM  

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.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:12 PM  

FYI, David Benioff's first screenplay was an adaptation of his book 25th Hour. It's amazing to read both and compare.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:36 PM  

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