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Modernizing Old Stories

In the new Death on the Nile (adapted from Agatha Christie’s book), they made a number of changes to ensure the work was better appreciated by a modern audience. This included changing certain motives and secrets for characters (having a former kleptomaniac instead have a secret lover, for example) and adding a romantic subplot for the main character.
Regardless of whether one thinks these changes work or not, I wanted to open up a discussion on why we feel the need to modernize old stories (even bringing some into the modern day rather than keeping them set in the past), and if these efforts help our understanding of these stories.
After all, movies tend to be made for a wide audience. There is a risk that many viewers won’t understand what certain decisions or plot elements imply, because they don’t have a knowledge of the time period it was originally created in. Changes are made to ‘translate’ the work for modern audiences. But on the other hand, it can easily go too far and attempts to modernize can remove beloved parts of the original work.

  • This could be an interesting larger discussion, for instance the modernisation of Shakespeare's works. – Sarai Mannolini-Winwood 3 months ago
  • I think that one reason why certain stories lend themselves to modernization is that at the time they were written they would have seemed "modern" to begin with. A lot of the technologies and cultural references used by Agatha Christie would have been considered modern, even cutting-edge, at the time her books were written, and it's only nowadays that they seem old-fashioned or "period." This was also the reason why the BBC decided to set its "Sherlock" series in modern times. Sherlock Holmes would have been considered a "modern" detective at the time the novels were originally written, and so, paradoxically, the best way to honor its original vision is to tell a version of the story set in modern times. – Debs 3 months ago
  • Updating language is always a good reason to 'modernize' a story. Without the ability to actually understand Shakespeare, for example, people might be mislead into thinking it's high-brow classical storytelling instead of a collection of dick jokes stuffed into a thriller jacket. – kgy121 3 months ago
  • Nice topic, but it feels a little broad. Try narrowing it down. For instance, you could do a whole article on the language issue alone. – Stephanie M. 3 months ago
  • It may be of great importance to end the article by drawing a line between the elements that are essential to protect an art piece's identity and the elements that can be changed in response to time, place, and culture without altering its identity. – Samer Darwich 3 months ago

What story elements are necessary to keep in order to make a beloved book to film adaption?

There have been many wonderful adaptions of popular novels, and also many terrible ones. What story elements must be kept faithful in order to appease fans and draw in new viewers. Is it important that the characters look the same? Does symbolism have to be exact?

  • An interesting topic. Your question own symbolism, well we know from past adaptations that change is likely. – Joseph Cernik 4 years ago
  • The biggest element the film adaptation needs to have is keeping the heart of the story. Whatever made the book work should be applied to the film. The Harry Potter films take a lot of liberties but they make sure to keep the magic of JK Rowling's writing alive. – cbo1094 3 years ago
  • It is important to acknowledge the bias of the fans. Their views may lack knowledge or understanding of the movie making process. It is cheaper to mass produce a novel than to create a movie, and the staff have a demanding job of keeping with the main plot points while on a budget. In short, fans may have a different take on the novel than both the author and director, causing a disconnect between them. – Keithwcic 3 years ago