Adaptations

Note: this is content from another class but I thought I would post this here since no one bother to comment (even though they were suppose to) and this is more permanent. Rant over.

As frequent as last year, whenever it got too quiet in our workshop, my supervisor would complain loudly about something embedded in pop culture. Usually it was about Fallout and he would engage for several hours about the game, instead of, well supervising. (I have no idea how we got anything done) One rant I remember in particular was about Game of Thrones; he said, “Don’t people realize that the books cover years and years rather than months? So and so should be this age rather than this age etc., etc.” I have no idea who these “people” were: the creators, directors, or producers. But even I realized back then why this was done; the show would get very boring and confusing very quickly. Armer in “Writing the Screenplay: TV and Film” writes that in order to condense (work with the economy of time), a screenwriter must eliminate characters, subplots, or reduce scenes that provide no dramatic tension. To be fair, even the author was skeptical that such an adaptation could be done. Mr. Martin thought that if he ever sold the rights to his books for a movie, so much of the plot would be lost (let alone all the more mature material). But with a mini-series spanning several seasons, screenwriters have more flexibility. And while fans complain over the absence of Lady Stoneheart or missing direwolves, that fact that the screenwriters still got so much in and were still successful is a miracle in itself. Now they are at the point where they are beyond the published saga and are working on original content while still within the ‘realm’ of the original series.

Another good example is the 2005 version of the film Pride and Prejudice. This is one of a few example were the film was much better than the original content. The book seemed a little more stretched out than necessary while this adaptation eliminated one of the Bingly sisters, making them one character that delivered as well as two, and brought the two lovers of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy together more intimately. However it feels like studios are pressured so much to appease the audience and stuff so much into a movie that when it comes to editing, they are forced to cut out so much, leaving gaps and lose ends. If you seen Batman vs Superman, you know exactly what I’m talking about. I tell people that Zack Snyder went out and made a four and half hour movie, and then the studio told him to make it two and a half.

There is one franchise I would like to see taken up like Game of Thrones and that is the Harry Potter movies. While I enjoy each director’s take on the series for each installment, towards the end fans were disappointed in so much that was left out from the story. I can see it from both sides: J. K. Rowling is the type of author that makes even the tiniest things have a greater meaning but movie makers are restricted in the material because of time.

Before going I would like to point out something from Armer for when a short story that doesn’t have much to work with but could be an adaptation: When a story has no protagonist, create one; when a story has no problem, create one; when a story has not antagonist create one; when coincidence exists, find a way to make it appear logical; introduce all main characters in the first act; preserve the essence of a story, the characters, or incidents that make it successful. Good advice for the writer struggling to make something work.

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