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Old 03-09-2008, 09:40 AM   #1
kilofox
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From Book to "The Big Screen"

I have seen many many novels translated to a movie, and have almost always been left lacking. For the most part, there is almost no way that you can shrink a novel into a screenplay that lasts 2-2 1/2 hours... something always gets cut out, glossed over etc etc.

What I have found is that the television mini-series is a much better avenue for getting a story on the screen... its just on the teley instead of a movie screen. Roots, Thornbirds, Lonesome Dove etc etc. were all more complete than if they were brought to the big screen.

Agreed?
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Old 03-09-2008, 09:43 AM   #2
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Well lately we've had some very good movies based on books: No Country for Old Men and There will be blood.
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Old 03-10-2008, 11:00 AM   #3
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The film version of The Princess Bride was quite good, I thought.
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Old 03-10-2008, 11:06 AM   #4
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Then there are books that seem especially written in hopes of becoming movies. I read "The Raw Shark Texts" yesterday. Very thin, fast-paced narrative drive. I kept thinking I was reading a screenplay, despite the typographic artifacts.
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Old 03-10-2008, 11:48 AM   #5
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Phillip K. Dick's short stories certainly translate well, but they're short stories, not novels, so they're better suited in the first place.
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Old 03-11-2008, 06:08 PM   #6
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"Meetings With Remarkable Men", based on Gurdjieff's autobiography.

The movie, and not the book, is stuck in my brain.

I saw the movie in the early 80's at a shabby independent movie theatre. The customers in this theatre were usually unruly, with the habit of rampaging to the exits shortly before a movie finished. "Meetings..." ends with a long and hypnotic Whirling Dervishes dance. The movie finished. For several minutes after the screen went blank, the audience just sat glued to their seats, silent, mesmerized, stunned.

That's my memory of it after all these years. Of course, if I saw "Meetings.. " today, I would probably be totally unimpressed.
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Old 03-19-2008, 08:36 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kilofox View Post
I have seen many many novels translated to a movie, and have almost always been left lacking. For the most part, there is almost no way that you can shrink a novel into a screenplay that lasts 2-2 1/2 hours... something always gets cut out, glossed over etc etc.

What I have found is that the television mini-series is a much better avenue for getting a story on the screen... its just on the teley instead of a movie screen. Roots, Thornbirds, Lonesome Dove etc etc. were all more complete than if they were brought to the big screen.

Agreed?
Agreed entirely. That's why I think short stories / novellas make better movies than novels. One excellent novella movie adaptation was Barry Longyear's SF story "Enemy Mine".

One exception I would make is the LOTR movies, especially their "extended editions". I think those are as good as one could really hope for.

I was extremely disappointed by the recent movie adaptation of Phillip Pullman's "The Golden Compass". They cut out virtually all the interesting "background stuff" to leave a rather incoherent "action" movie which didn't make a lot of sense.
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Old 03-19-2008, 09:34 AM   #8
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Another movie that was twice over a mess was Dune by Frank Herbert. First it was made into an awful movie where you'd be totally lost had you not read the book before hand. And the SciFi TV's mini-series was another dreadful mess leaving things out and changing thimgs that were not in the book. basically, nobody has done Dune any justice except of course, Frank Herbert.
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Old 03-19-2008, 09:46 AM   #9
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I don't think Dune will ever work as a film. There is too much cultural context to convey, too much inner monologue, nuances of gesture and expression. Any movie made is doomed to be a sad botch from the get-go.
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Old 03-19-2008, 01:58 PM   #10
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My 14yo son loves movies and he's finally seeing that not all movies from novels are that good. He's now reading through the Harry Potter books, just finished Goblet of Fire, and he's starting to understand why I haven't been totally thrilled by the movies. The HP movies were fine but it was frustrating to me to wonder where all the subplots went.

ITA, that the LOTR extended edition movies were excellent.
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Old 03-19-2008, 02:15 PM   #11
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My 14yo son loves movies and he's finally seeing that not all movies from novels are that good. He's now reading through the Harry Potter books, just finished Goblet of Fire, and he's starting to understand why I haven't been totally thrilled by the movies. The HP movies were fine but it was frustrating to me to wonder where all the subplots went.

ITA, that the LOTR extended edition movies were excellent.
It has been announced that the final HP book will actually be two movies. There was a Pride and Prejudice mini-series on PBS Masterpiece that was 6 hours. It was excellent at following the book. There is a DVD I believe.
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Old 03-20-2008, 01:19 AM   #12
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Another movie that was twice over a mess was Dune by Frank Herbert. First it was made into an awful movie where you'd be totally lost had you not read the book before hand. And the SciFi TV's mini-series was another dreadful mess leaving things out and changing thimgs that were not in the book. basically, nobody has done Dune any justice except of course, Frank Herbert.
Three-for-three?

http://moviesblog.mtv.com/2007/12/21...-edwin-a-salt/

Cheers,
Marc
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Old 03-20-2008, 03:33 AM   #13
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It has been announced that the final HP book will actually be two movies. There was a Pride and Prejudice mini-series on PBS Masterpiece that was 6 hours. It was excellent at following the book. There is a DVD I believe.
That was probably the 1995 BBC one, with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy - it's widely regarded as the "definitive" version. The BBC excels at producing "costume drama"; because they're publically funded they can afford to do stuff like that which wouldn't be viable for a commercial broadcaster who has to make a profit.
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Old 03-20-2008, 12:34 PM   #14
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Harry - I love the BBC Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth, but then again I could watch Colin Firth read from the phone book.
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Old 03-20-2008, 02:05 PM   #15
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I thought "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World" did a really good job of getting the spirit of the Patrick O'Brian books without trying to tell a novel's worth of story.
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