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    From Manuscript to Screen: The Involvement of an Author in the writing of a book's Screenplay

    Consider an author’s roll in the writing of the screenplay if his novel is offered a film deal. Should the author be the main screenwriter? Should he be involved at all? Not everything in a book translates well to screen (which explains material that is only in the film & not the book). Not all authors are meant to be screenwriters (and not all screenwriters should be authors). So: do we segregate the two, or can they play nicely together?

    • I think the Harry Potter movies are a testament to authors and screenwriters working well together. J.K Rowling did not dominate decisions for the movies but she had great influence and insight, I've read that she greatly helped actors fill their role better by being there to give them deeper insight and background into the character. The actor of Snape knew his entire backstory long before anyone else because Rowling let him in on the secrets. The author should at least be well informed if the adaptations want to stick true to the books so they don't do anything that would contradict what might happen later in an unpublished series' next book. That being said it's okay to continue without author's influence if the adaptation makes clear to fans that it is blatantly deviating from the books such as with Game of Thrones now that it's caught up with the books and wants to continue production on their own terms, and spin offs like Full Metal Alchemist which animated itself before the manga concluded which led to drastically different endings (noticeable to those who didn't read the manga because the series was re-animated in FMA Brotherhood which stuck to the manga once it was done). – Slaidey 9 years ago
    • Not to mention that J.K. Rowling is going to pen the movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them which takes place in the Wizarding World based on a book she wrote by the same name. Another note is that Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games, actually started out as a script writer. The books are divided into a certain number of chapters that can be divided by three because she's so used to writing plays with three acts. Now those books are movies. I don't know how involved she was with the actual films, though. – VelvetRose 9 years ago

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    Latest Comments


    Or, perhaps their hands are tied by state or government standards that must be met? Rarely does a lazy teacher remain a teacher for long. I know plenty of English teachers who would LOVE to change their class curriculums, but because of the state/federal requirements, they have little flexibility.

    The Obscure Shakespeare

    Students are taught to be intimidated by Shakespeare exactly because of these kinds of articles & ideologies. Lofty themes? When did betrayal and doubt and love become so elitist that a high school student could no longer empathize with them?

    American culture has aggrandized Shakespeare and segregated him into his own untouchable genre, for better or for worse. Macbeth, Hamlet, and Romeo and Juliet are taught at the high school level because they are, arguably, Shakespeare’s best works, as well as the most easily understood plays (given the students have a decent teacher). You seem to bemoan the fact that the comedies aren’t taught [side note: you don’t include R&J in your “tragedies” group; it IS a tragedy based on classic definitions of drama]. Many of the comedies are situational and require significant understanding of the cultural context for the messages to be properly understood. In addition, many of the aspects which make the comedy funny lie in the pronunciation and delivery of the lines (Dr. David Crystal has fascinating insights into the original pronunciation–OP–of Shakespeare’s texts). The trio you list, however, are timeless. They don’t require a teacher to extensively explain cultural ideologies and political undertones in order for the students to grasp the main themes of the plays.

    Now, would I like to see plays like Merchant of Venice, Othello, The Taming of the Shrew, and others taught in our schools? Absolutely! But, only if a teacher is willing and prepared to wade slowly through the text with his students to help them understand the more complex undertones of the works.

    The Obscure Shakespeare

    “Yet, it must be remembered that literature and cinema are disparate mediums. What works on the page does not necessarily translate well to film, and vice versa. Films that slavishly honor the source material often can make for a talky, static, and tedious cinematic experience.”

    Many times when a film is “slavishly [honest to] the source material” it is because the screenwriter didn’t do his job correctly. Perhaps he had a personal attachment to the material (as is often the case). The director, on the other hand, is responsible for visually translating the screenplay, not the book. Can you imagine if Peter Jackson were to remain true to the entirety of the LOTR novels? Goodness, we’d STILL be in theaters!

    “However, filmmakers who intend to keep the spirit of the source, while acknowledging that certain elements must be tweaked, often make for the most accomplished cinematic adaptations.”

    This is how film making ought to take place. Much like when the literature itself is studied, you shouldn’t focus all energies on specific lines or dialogues, but rather overall themes. You’ll remember more, and it will thus be more pervasive in one’s own life. Keeping the “spirit” allows for adaption to contemporary styles whose familiarity will help audiences become more engaged in the messages portrayed by the story.

    From Gatsby to Gunter Grass: When Being Faithful is a Drawback

    What an intriguing and well formed article! First and foremost, thank you for that alone!

    Now: I must ask if you aren’t forcing a 1940’s American film through a 21st century American film filter? In the 1940’s, the family and the community WERE the epitome and highest standard of living. If you lost these, you indeed lost everything.

    Today, what with movements such as feminism and the like, this worldview has altered. Perhaps, when viewed through these lenses, It’s a Wonderful Life might portray the “prison” of the family circle. I personally disagree because I know the redemptive power of the family regardless of circumstances, but that is my personal opinion. I am also a huge proponent of historical consideration when critiquing, so I find it unfair to judge an almost 60-year-old movie by modern standards and expectations.

    Regardless, thanks for your thoughts! I quite enjoyed the article!

    It's A Wonderful Life: A Truly Happy Family Film?

    I appreciate the effort given here to compare/contrast these films, however I don’t know that it was executed well. There are definitely significant considerations listed, though they are only shoddily addressed.

    An important aspect to consider when comparing The Lion King and Frozen is the time periods. Lion King was the Renaissance of cinema’s pioneer of animated films (Disney). The Renaissance literally means a looking back and replication of tradition and classicism. This explains the closer relationship between the Lion King and Hamet. Frozen, released in the new millennium, instead focuses on progress and innovation as seen in the cutting-edge use of CG and extremely loose interpretation of H.C. Andersen.

    I could go on, but would end up writing an entirely different article…

    The Lion King: The Seven Standards of Disney

    Intriguing information. Personally, I find Jungian criticism to be a bit forced, but I appreciate its consideration.

    It is EXTREMELY important to consider the historical and cultural context when discussing any form of literature, fairy tales included. I very much admired the thoroughness given to the French history in your article.

    The Formidable Fairy Tale: A Writer's Guide