The trick of film adaptation

HopeKempHope Kemp is a student, filmmaker, and occasional book blogger.

A lot of people are often very skeptical about their favourite books and novels being transformed into motion pictures, or are very cynical about films ‘not being like the book at all.’ You only have to look at the forum boards on IMDB to see reams of complaints: Baz Lurhmann’s choice for Jay-Z to score the upcoming ‘The Great Gatsby’ remake, who knows what the issue is for this week. But I think we need to be more open minded. No — a film is never going to be exactly like your idea of the book, maybe not even close, but they are two different mediums after all. For example, Danny Boyle’s 2008 interpretation of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ is nothing like Vikas Swarup’s novel Q&A (yes, they even changed the name!) but both are brilliant as their own separate forms.

However, it is undeniably true that there are some truly terrible adaptations of beautiful novels made. Sometimes there is poor acting, directing or technical faults, and some filmmakers seem to loose the true message of the story they are intending to tell (Peter Jackson’s hideous version of Alice Sebold’s ‘The Lovely Bones’ and Frank Oz’s seemingly anti-female remake of Ira Levin’s feminist novel ‘The Stepford Wives’ spring to mind). However, these misconceived features can still make a great topic of debate and conversation (I personally was not impressed at all this year’s release of ‘The Hobbit,’ hate me). Plus, there’s always the hope of a better remake.

Screen Shot 2013-03-08 at 10.41.12

Last Summer I decided to start working on creating my own independent films, starting with the short film ‘Junky.’ The film is based on the first autobiographical book (of the same name) of eminent Beat Writer William S. Burroughs. The Beat Movement was a period in post World War Two America of literary, social and cultural change, Burroughs is often regarded as one of its fore-founders. The work ‘Junky’ was first published in 1953 and focuses on the author’s longstanding, tumultuous battles with alcohol and narcotic drug addictions. With my film, I chose to focus on the unconventional and isolated childhood of William Burroughs, using the prologue of the novel as a voice over.

So, would you be interested in reading JUNKY after watching my film?



One response to “The trick of film adaptation

  1. I have to say, I do really enjoy the most recent Stepford Wives, because of the way she prevails in the end… but it’s not very accurate to the book! As for me, I’m looking forward to the filmic adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (supposing it really is getting made), but I’m also apprehensive. I like the Harry Potter movies if I don’t compare them to the books at all, but as companion pieces, they are lacking and I’m afraid that will happen to TFioS!

    Your film was very intriguing! I’d be interested to see what you’d do with other beat poets, like Ginsberg’s Howl… talk about the cry of a generation! I think that the upcoming On The Road film is a slippery slope… I’m just not sure Kerouac is meant to be seen. Seems to me, he would’ve been happier leaving the interpretation to his readers, rather than Hollywood.

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