Saturday, April 14, 2007

Literary adaptations

In addition to books, I thought it might be interesting to begin reviewing my favorite films, shows etc. that are based on books and plays (can't leave out Shakespeare).

Now, some of these works are simply great adaptations. They faithfully tell a story I happen to already love. Others are great in their own right... And then there are the Holy Grail of literary adaptations... Works that are both.

To get started, I've come up with a set of criteria to help me analyze each:

The Poohba's Bibliotèque Literary Adaptation Four-Star System

Actors match character description (Possible ****)
This means just that. The director has not chosen a tall, slim redhead with an American accent to play the slightly pudgy, dark-haired heroine of your favorite Australian novel. This category also will comment on casting choices that seem too "modern" for historical roles.

Plot follows story (Possible ****)
Another no-brainer category. Does the script play fast and loose with what happened in the book? I don't want to see Anne of Green Gables running around France during World War I when anyone who has read Rilla of Ingleside would know how ridiculous that is.

Additional material adds to the established story without contradicting "canon" (Possible ****)
This is very closely related to the category above, but I think it deserves a rank of its own. Adapting art from one media to another can be messy. This is meant to reward films that bring something extra to the table. If a filmmaker adds a scene (or plot point or two), or successfully condenses material that would make a movie too long, all without deviating from the spirit of the original, then they deserve a pat on the back.

Overall faithfulness to the story (Possible ****)
This category takes into account the scores from the first three, as well as my overall impression of whether the spirit of the original work is upheld.

Poohba Entertainment Factor (Possible ****)
Forget the original. Was this a good movie, play etc. in its own right? Would I enjoy it if I hadn't read it first?

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