How to Get Some Attention

Adaptations are tricky things.

First off, the reason one would want to adapt, say, a book to the screen, is because their is a fondness for the original.

And yet, in order to make good use of the new media, the thing must change. Each media has different strengths; to not change is to short change the story.

Imagine translating a story from French to Spanish, but insisting that the translation only use French words. Okay, sure – but the result would be pretty lousy Spanish.

Imagine, then, translating a story from the language of the novel to the language of film, but insisting that the language of the novel be kept intact. Okay, sure — but the result would be pretty lousy film.

And a disservice to the original.

The trick is to hold on to what created the fondness to begin with, while changing into the strength of the new media – it must be a new thing – or at least a renewed thing; but not a completely new thing.

A good film adaptation has three hallmarks:

1. It is a good film

2. It holds to the author’s original intent

3. It holds true to the emotional core of the original

There are plenty of successes out there – The Lord of the Rings, Chicago, the later Harry Potters: movies that stay true to the source while becoming their own works of art.

When a book is beloved by me, the risks of joy or sorrow increase as an adaptation approaches.

Sometimes I am less then whelmed (I so longed for The Watchmen on film); others I am appropriately whelmed (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows hit just right.)

Giving in to peer pressure, I read Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. Glad I did.

The story moved me in surprising places. The pages turned quickly, all while I desired to slow them down.

The book caught me in the wee hours of the morning rationalizing a loss of sleep in exchange for a few pages more.

So I face the upcoming adaptation with excitement and fear.

Yet all indications seem to be that the filmmakers are doing everything right:

Staying true to the core of the original while making a good film.

A favorite moment from the book as played out in the film:


Different than I imagined, but it’s got everything it needs.

My excitement rises.

Just my thoughts,



One response to “How to Get Some Attention”

  1. N. J. Lindquist says :

    I watch adaptations of favourite books in fear and trembling. One recent movie adaptation I thought was excellent was The Help.

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