Saturday, 2 May 2009


This was one of my favourite novels of recent years, so I was both excited and timorous to learn it was being adapted for the screen. There were a few sleepless nights about Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks clones murdering the roles with saccharine-laced dialogue and a silky, nauseating voice-over, all culminating in a morass of sentimental tripe. So I was pleased to see I'd barely heard of the actors chosen.

The film, due for release in the autumn, will receive considerable hype, especially given this HUGE advance the novelist got for her next book based on sales of TTTW.

Few great novels make the transition to film well (some ordinary ones are occasionally transformed into great cinema by a talented and visionary screenwriter; plenty of terrible ones go on to make terrrible films, mentioning no names, Dan Brown), so we'll have to wait and see.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest would be my ultimate success when it comes to adaptation. Any others?


Oiselle said...

My favorite screen adaptation is To Kill a Mockingbird. Of course, things had to be left out, but I don't think that anything compromised the feel of the novel.

TOM J VOWLER said...

Hi Oiselle. Yes, I was going to mention that one, both stunning in their own way. Once you accept the two things are inevitably different, it becomes possible to love a film of your favourite novel, even with great swathes absent.

Wisdom often moots viewing the film after reading the book, but having loved No Country for Old Men, I'm staying away from the novel in case it doesn't live up to the film!

Anne Brooke said...

It's such a fabulous novel - interesting to see how it will work on screen.


Donna said...

I agree with One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. Another one for me would be The Remains of the Day, though I think that's due to Anthony Hopkins' performance.

TOM J VOWLER said...

Yes, Donna, many folk say the same. Have to confess to reading or watching neither. Supposed to be Ishiguro's finest. I think Never Let Me Go was Booker nominated, but it didn't quite work for me. I wanted to love that book, but couldn't.

It got me thinking, in my post-cricket, drunken state, how it must be both exciting and daunting to see what a screenwriter does with your novel; what they omit, focus on. Suppose writers probably care little once the zeros have dried on the cheque.

Alex said...


I'd like to nominate adaptations from a few different categories:

1.Best unremarkable page turner to work of sublime genius: The Godfather.

2.Best adaptation of something that shoud have been frankly unfilmable: Trainspotting.

3.Best update of an aged classic to fit current times: Heart of Darkness / Apocalypse Now.

4.Please move along. Nothing to see here. Step away from the paperback: Brave New World

TOM J VOWLER said...

Some great films there, Alex. There's a film of BNW?!

Alex said...

Sadly Tom, there have been a couple of attempts to bring BNW to the screen. The first was a BBC/US joint TV production effort made circa 1979-80 which was apparently pretty mediocre (I admit I haven't seen this one).

The second was an American TV movie from ten years or so ago which I happened upon when I was on holiday in California. It starred Peter Gallagher of Sex, Lies and Viedotape and Leonard Nimoy and was just awful, awful, awful. So bad they changed the characterisations, the plot and the ending.

Similar to BBC Scotland's attempt to bring 'Kidnapped' to the screen, whereupon they changed most of the good things about the book.

As you said earlier, the writer is left in the hands of the screenwriter, but what must go through the S/W's mind? To think they can improve upon Huxley or Stevenson either shows crass ignorance or a helluva faith in your own talents.