Thursday, 25 November 2010

Happy Turkey Day

A couple of random posts to celebrate my forefathers stealing from the native Americans and ruining their way of life. Pumpkin pie is tasty.

Yeah, it kind of speaks for itself.

Next we have a piece i write for the "Film matters" column on my newspaper page this week. It was supposed to be in reference to Never Let Me Go, and all the other book adaptations that are coming out at the moment, but it kind of became about Harry Potter and the unoriginality of directors. I hope you like it. I'm worried the ending isn't as clear as i would have liked, but i reached my word limit and had to make it more concise.

Whenever a  film adaptation of a book comes out, the audience is going to be split. Fans of the book tend to prefer the original, commenting on all the ways in which the film has altered the text. People who have not read the original often prefer the film. For most, it seems whichever way they first experience a text tends to remain their favourite. This generalization applies to classics, or books and films aimed towards an older audience, and it is not necessarily a bad thing.
But a change is developing, clearly defined among younger readers and audiences; the appearance of films and books which are inextricably linked. The Harry Potter and Twilight sagas, with their huge followings, have become cultural juggernauts, to the point where the characters in the books will forever have the faces of the actors portraying them. Edward Cullen is Robert Pattinson, Harry Potter is Daniel Radcliffe. Fans seem to love the franchise rather than the medium.
To an extent this makes life easier for the directors and screenwriters. They have a pre-built audience who are eager to love whatever they put on screen, so long as it doesn’t mess with the basic idea of the book. The lazy, poorly written first entries in the Harry Potter and Twilight film canon are evidence of this. These audiences don’t seem to want anything new, they demand more of the same. While this may be fine for tween hordes desperate for their safe fantasy fix, I don’t see why adult audiences should have to put up with by-the-numbers remakes.
When a book adaptation comes out which really shakes things up, either by changing part of the story, or by portraying the original text in a brand new way (think of the end of Fight Club, or Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet), it seems to first be met with resistance, before being praised for its vision and originality. Why then are so many adaptations so afraid of breaking the mould?
By their very nature films and novels are different. Books allow you to imagine characters and settings however you like, letting you create the visual world of the text within your head. In film, by casting, by choosing certain settings, the director is immediately imposing their interpretation of the text on the audience. There is no way a film can be exactly the same as each audience member’s experience of the text, and I don’t think it should try to be. If a film tries to exactly impersonate a book, it can only fail. In my opinion, if an adaptation is to really be successful, the director or adaptor must think about their own interpretation of the book, liberating themselves from the expectations of others. In so doing, the film would in some ways be more personal, more true to the original effect of the novel, and perhaps then we would have more Where The Wild Things Are’s and less P.S. I Love You’s, and the cinematic world might be a better, more imaginative place.

I had 3 hours of rehearsals today, working on act 1 and act 4. All of them went pretty well and were uneventful. I feel like we're at the stage now that we should have been at 2 weeks ago, and it's frustrating me, but there is little i can do apart from plan as many rehearsals as possible and beg people to learn their lines.

I am so ready for the weekend.

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