Page & Screen: What It’s All About

If nothing else relatively new comes out of this, then this is, perhaps, the most obvious. I’ve been in two minds about this for quite some time because it would be easy enough to say: ‘well, what the hell does it have to do with literature?’ But really, the connections do exist and they’re fairly obvious, so sure, I feel as though I can justify the existence of this new … ‘project’, at least in my own mind.


Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas; 1996, Dir. Terry Gilliam
Based On the Novel By Hunter S. Thompson

From the stellar success of franchises like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and, (as much as I hate to admit it) Twilight, to groundbreaking cult classics such as Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas (pictured above) and Fight Club , adaptations are firmly rooted in cinema history.

In the best scenarios, a successful adaptation will capture the essence of the book and highlight the themes that run through it without forgetting the importance of the visual and sensory aspects that contribute to the experience. The worst-case scenarios usually involve sacrificing the substance of the novel for the style of the film. Essentially, it’s about finding a balance that showcases the strengths of both mediums ; and when it works, the end result can be fantastic.

I have to admit, I’m more inclined to focus on the positive where I can here. Not every adaptation works, and not ever novel will be ideal to make the transition from page to screen; but I don’t feel as though bringing a book to the silver screen is really a bad thing in most cases. There’s a level of disconnection that maybe has to be exercised – it’s easier to treat the book and the film of the book as separate entities entirely because both usually have strengths of their own. There are ways we envision and interpret the things we read that don’t always add up, ways in which the film actually improves on what we imagined, and ways in which what is on the screen doesn’t quite meet our expectations.  I mean, I feel a little like I’m preaching to the choir here. I’m going over things that mostly everyone knows in a bid to try and explain this project, when maybe it doesn’t need that much explaining.

So the goal? To take a look into the transition from page to screen; what makes an adaptation successful? What makes it fall flat? Is there ever any such thing as a faithful adaptation, or will there always be the need for some kind of ellipsis? I also plan on taking a look into how the themes of the source material are represented on screen, if at all, and how, as well as the cultural impact these films tend to make. The intention is to break this little project up into sections focusing on different things, but exactly what these things are I have yet to determine. But the real challenge will be keeping it in line with everything else that goes on here, because this is not a movie blog. It is simply that the two mediums have a lot in common with each other.

That’s the plan, anyway. We’ll see how it works out sooner or later.

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1 Comment

Filed under Page & Screen

One response to “Page & Screen: What It’s All About

  1. I’ve yet to see a film best its original written book source. The two are different creatures, one constrained for telling within a two hour (more or less) window, the other for perusal at leisure. One can detail visually, the other through description.

    However, a writer can learn from imagining their story as film. A film doesn’t give the thoughts of characters, it shows through their expressions and actions. We see things as it happened, or through flashback where we make the journey as well.

    Film folk can learn from us writers… the story matters first, not the effects, which exist to enhance and accentuate, not dominate.

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