On adapting books

Ian W. Riddell iwriddell at charter.net
Tue Nov 4 09:24:25 EST 2003

On Monday, November 3, 2003, at 08:07  PM, Sarah wrote:
On adapting "Howl"

> The few comments from Miyazaki that I've read so far puzzle me a  
> little - okay, the stuff about nineteenth-century 'illusion art' is  
> understandable as a design approach, but curious given that it implies  
> (to me) Heath Robinson devices and contraptions, which doesn't really  
> match up with the style of magic we see in the novel. And he talks  
> about a war in which one must choose a side. *War*? Who's having a war  
> now?
> So I'm a little puzzled about the direction of his adaptation, but I'm  
> pretty confident that it will be something good.
> A *good* adaptation of a book is such a rare thing, anyway. I can only  
> think of two right now and they're 'The Princess Bride' and 'From  
> Hell,' which is scaring me.

My list of "good" adaptations (i.e., good movies made from good books  
which actually capture something that the book was trying to do, IMHO)  
includes the above two and:

"To Kill a Mockingbird"
"Silence of the Lambs"
The current "Lord of the Rings" adaptations
The original, animated, TV version of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"

My list of appalling adaptations:

David Lynch's adaptation of "Dune" (despite the casting of Patrick  
Ron Howard's "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"

In fact those two movies top my "worst movies of all time" list. I  
actually wept while watching Grinch. Of course you have to understand  
that I believe the book to be one of the greatest books ever written  
and that the cartoon is an annual Christmas tradition in my household.


Eight blunders of the world that lead to violence: wealth without work,  
pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce  
without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice,  
politics without principle, and rights without responsibilities.
Mahatma and Arun Gandhi

Ian W. Riddell
iwriddell at charter.net
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