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Donegal Dragon
01-16-2014, 07:43 AM
Somehow I managed to miss that Winter's Tale was made into a movie to be released soon. One of my favorite books, so I am looking forward to this with a little trepidation. I am having trouble seeing anyone capture the spirit of this great story on film. But I have been amazed recently at people taking on books like Life Of Pi or Cloud Atlas with remarkable results. Life Of Pi brilliantly and Cloud Atlas a bit less so, but even the attempt was astonishing.
What favorite story or book of yours can you just not see as a movie? What is the next major challenge for the creative minds in film?

CalMeacham
01-16-2014, 08:02 AM
I loved Cloud Atlas, and the "less so" rankles a bit, but I haven't read the book and can't tell how it stacks up (and I've neither read Life of Pi nor seen the film yet).

I didn't think they'd be able to make watchmen into a movie of reasonable length, but I thought they did a great job. Unfortunately, unless you're already kind of ac comic book geek, it probably wouldn't work for you.

Woody Allen's Everything you wanted to Know about Sex* but Were Afraid to Ask took an "unfilmable' book and made a movie with the same title, although it certainly wasn't an attempt to actually film the book.

Books without a proper narrative and drama (or in which those parts aren't so important in the book0 end up being filmed with a script that imposes a plot with protagonist, antagonist, and a clear direction to the story that the book lacked. This happened with Charles Finney's Circus of Dr. Lao, which Charles Beaumont and George Pal turned into the Seven Faces of Dr. Lao. The film was successful in its own way, but it's a very different experience from the book. it would be interesting to see it filmed today, when you can get away with much more, and with CGI available.

They did the same with the works of Jules Verne. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is great and prophetic, but also episodic and wandering, and for the 1954 Disney/Richard Fleischer movie they admittedly added plot (and turned Verne's smooth, accurate submarine into a gewgaw rivet-covered proto-steampunk piece of eye candy). Other versions of the book have also had added plot. The same is true of various versions of Mysterious Island, Robur the Conqueror/Master of the World, A Journey to the Center of the Earth, and other Verne adaptation.



I thus hesitate to say you can't film anything, although I will say that you can change anything enough to make a filmable story. There ain't enough to Philip K. Dick's we can Remember it for you Wholesale to make a full-length movie (and it's about somebody remembering, which isn't very photogenic), but if you steal plot from elsewhere (I've suggested Robert Sheckley's The Status Civilization and make it into essentially a Virtual Reality/Dream film, then you can release it as Total Recall.


I don't think you could film Edwin Abbott's classic Flatland (despite the fact that it's been tried, twice*), but you could pad it into a sci-fi action adventure easily enough.




The I'd like to see done is Fredric Brown's Arena, which would make a helluva film, done right. (And, no, I don't count the Star Trek episode nominally based on it as a real adaptation.)



*It was done in an animated form, which I've seen at the closing Mathematica exhibit at the Museum of Science, but it's short and not satisfying. It also served as the basis for the padded-out Outer Limits episode Behold, Eck!, which shows you how NOT to do this sort of thing.

Donegal Dragon
01-16-2014, 08:48 AM
I loved Cloud Atlas as well, taken as a movie. It was the translation from book to film that I felt lacked something.

Wendell Wagner
01-16-2014, 08:48 AM
For me, the clearest case where, sometime after reading a book, I was told that they were making of movie of it and I found that downright bizarre was the book A Most Dangerous Method by John Kerr, made into the film A Dangerous Method.

Skammer
01-16-2014, 09:14 AM
I was curious and skeptical when they turned Moneyball into a movie, but it turned out pretty good.

Smeghead
01-16-2014, 09:47 AM
I'm looking forward to the word-for-word, unedited, completely faithful Wheel of Time movie.

Little Nemo
01-16-2014, 09:58 AM
I always thought Dune was an unfilmable book and I feel the two movie versions support this.

Jophiel
01-16-2014, 10:01 AM
I want to see a film adaptation of the Weiss & Hickman Rose of the Prophet trilogy.

Pseudo-Arab tribe saves the world from jihad seeking pseudo-Persian God with the help of a pseudo-Christian wizard who happens to be gay and is mistaken for a woman? Something to offend everyone!

I actually think it would make for a pretty cool movie but I couldn't ever see it happening.

Little Nemo
01-16-2014, 10:03 AM
One special category is children's books. The reality is many popular children's books have a very short narrative. A film version which stuck to the book would end up as a five minute short. So filmmakers are forced into "opening up" the story and adding in a bunch of new stuff in order to fill a feature length movie.

Jumpbass
01-16-2014, 10:34 AM
How about What To Expect When You're Expecting? No story, no characters.

Eutychus
01-16-2014, 10:42 AM
I would love to see either "Gravity's Rainbow" or "Infinite Jest" made into films but I fear both are too sprawling to be able to be whittled down well enough.

Finagle
01-16-2014, 10:47 AM
Somehow I managed to miss that Winter's Tale was made into a movie to be released soon. One of my favorite books, so I am looking forward to this with a little trepidation. I am having trouble seeing anyone capture the spirit of this great story on film.

I'd go with "inconceivable!" rather than impossible, because The Princess Bride was one of those books I didn't think they could film. (They came close, but I don't think they quite got it.) I think the Winter Tale film maker's know that this is the territory they're in, because they're using the somewhat fatuous tag line "This is not a true story. This is true love." Which can't help but hearken back to The Princess Bride's "trooo luv".

I guess I don't have a lot of hope for Winter's Tale (I didn't know it was coming out either), but it is true that there was a lot of extraneous material that could be cropped out. I always thought that Helprin concatenated a bunch of short stories (some of which worked better than others) that he had lying around into one mostly cohesive work.

Cuckoorex
01-16-2014, 11:25 AM
House of Leaves. I just can't imagine how it could possibly be made into a movie that does justice to the book.

Morbo
01-16-2014, 11:30 AM
I'm looking forward to seeing the BBC miniseries of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel when it comes out. It will be very interesting to see how they solved the problem of showing characters moving along in two different worlds at the same time and in the same space.

I also want to see what the hell thistle-down hair looks like.

Fiveyearlurker
01-16-2014, 11:45 AM
World War Z is unfilmable despite the fact that it was filmed. The movie bore no resemblance to the book, and one wonders if the only reason they licensed the book was for name recognition.

detop
01-16-2014, 11:57 AM
Illuminatus ! is one of those unfilmable movie.

Eutychus
01-16-2014, 12:07 PM
Illuminatus ! is one of those unfilmable movie.

I don't think so. Yes, it would be very episodic and looong, but I'd love to see it done.

Superdude
01-16-2014, 12:26 PM
How about What To Expect When You're Expecting? No story, no characters.

Done (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1586265/?ref_=nv_sr_1).

I can't see Stephen King's Dark Tower series as films. I'd love to be wrong, but I don't think a film could capture the senses of majesty and scope that the books do.

tullsterx
01-16-2014, 12:40 PM
I always thought Dune was an unfilmable book and I feel the two movie versions support this.

I approve of what you did there. . . and I didn't approve of what they did there, either.

alphaboi867
01-16-2014, 05:03 PM
I loved the Animorphs books, but the TV series was horrible. Even with a huge budget they'd be damn near impossible to film given how much of the plot takes place with the main characters in animal form (ranging from ants to whales) speaking telepathically. Ironically K. A. Applegate was going to make the Andalites standard grey aliens in case the books got optioned for TV, but her publishers told her to be more creative. So she made them into centaurs; they're the closest thing to humanoid aliens in the series;).

Reno Nevada
01-16-2014, 07:10 PM
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman is a remarkable book for many reasons, one of which is that it is a Post-Modern novel that long predates any Modern novels. It is widely regarded as unfilmable. There is a film called Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, which is more or less a film about the making of a film version of the novel. I found it to be a pretty good movie.

Ferret Herder
01-16-2014, 07:31 PM
House of Leaves. I just can't imagine how it could possibly be made into a movie that does justice to the book.
This. The story is about a layered interaction of different storylines, playing with text and layout, using real and fake references to make you question the reality of the book and your own experiences, hiding information, unreliable and/or insane narrators, multiple narrators, and so on. The only way I can see it being possible is to strip it down to the 'Holloway and co. vs the House' story, and really... you miss so much interesting stuff that way.

Bellhorn
01-16-2014, 07:46 PM
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson, defied being made for cinema. How does one even know what was real or imagined? And the movie was poorly accepted, but I really admired the attempt. Johnny Depp and Benico del Torres should have gotten honorary Oscars for trying to figure it out.

Wendell Wagner
01-16-2014, 09:54 PM
A book I think was reasonably popular and yet contains stuff that nobody is going to film is Perdido Street Station by China Miéville.

Robot Arm
01-17-2014, 12:40 AM
Infinite Jest would be pretty damn difficult to put on film, and would require miniseries length to even begin to do it justice. It did give us one fucking awesome music video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJpfK7l404I) though.

Donegal Dragon
01-17-2014, 11:14 PM
Anything by Mieville would be very exciting to see on film. but my favorite would be The City And The City

outlierrn
01-18-2014, 12:24 AM
World War Z is unfilmable despite the fact that it was filmed. The movie bore no resemblance to the book, and one wonders if the only reason they licensed the book was for name recognition.

They certainly butchered the movie, but I don't think it's unfilmable, they would just have to weave the story of a new character through the arc of the book.

Imagine if Pitt's character had been an agent for the CDC, or the WHO and happened to be in Afghanistan when the Canadian special forces soldier is being debriefed. Then we see him in So. Africa after the ghetto outbreak. He's talking with Warbrunn and Knight in these scenes, and mentions he's giving up the globe-trotting to settle into NY now that his kid's being born. Then we have him bugging his family out ahead of the battle of Yonkers, a couple of vignettes fleeing to the western safe zone where they force him to ship out to the Radio Free Earth vessel. Some more vignettes, maybe a parallel story arc of his wife in Hawaii with the crisis government, and it ends wtih him writing the book.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I think it could work.

Tim R. Mortiss
01-18-2014, 12:34 AM
Atlas Shrugged. The two installments that actually were filmed pretty much demonstrate the futility of this endeavor. They didn't totally suck, but still failed to get the point across.

And I can't imagine anything by Kurt Vonnegut being properly captured on film either.

dasmoocher
01-18-2014, 01:30 AM
I'd like to see Gaiman's Sandman, but think it could end up like Dune.

According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sandman_%28Vertigo%29#Film):In 2013, DC Chief Diane Nelson says that a Sandman film will be as rich as the Harry Potter universe.[39] It has been announced that David S. Goyer will be producing an adaptation of the graphic novel, alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Neil Gaiman. An additional writer will be hired to write the script.[40] [41]

ataraxy22
01-18-2014, 01:42 AM
I've heard that Hogg is widely considered to be unfilmable.

Accidental Martyr
01-18-2014, 02:09 AM
And I can't imagine anything by Kurt Vonnegut being properly captured on film either.
I thought Slaughterhouse-Five was pretty good.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slaughterhouse-Five_%28film%29

Zebra
01-18-2014, 02:57 AM
A Fan's Notes would be pretty hard to film. Maybe the people behind Leaving Las Vegas could do it, but probably not.

NDP
01-18-2014, 03:05 AM
And I can't imagine anything by Kurt Vonnegut being properly captured on film either.

I thought Slaughterhouse-Five was pretty good.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slaughterhouse-Five_%28film%29

So far, that's been the exception to the rule. Vonnegut's novels generally don't fit the standard Hollywood film narrative. Someone like Guillermo Del Toro, Terry Gilliam, or Spike Jonze might make it work but certain elements in the books (along with the mostly dismal track record of Vonnegut film adaptations) have dissuaded the suits from greenlighting these projects.

Smeghead
01-18-2014, 06:58 AM
So it goes.

FriarTed
01-18-2014, 07:00 AM
So far, that's been the exception to the rule. Vonnegut's novels generally don't fit the standard Hollywood film narrative. Someone like Guillermo Del Toro, Terry Gilliam, or Spike Jonze might make it work but certain elements in the books (along with the mostly dismal track record of Vonnegut film adaptations) have dissuaded the suits from greenlighting these projects.

He endorsed "Mother Night" enough to appear in it. Anyway, MN's story format lent itself quite well to being filmed.

To anyone who actually read Burroughs' Naked Lunch, did the Cronenberg movie at least give you a feel of the book?

As a non-Objectivist fan of Atlas Shrugged the novel, I'm taking the movies the same way I took the Bakshi LOTR & the Rankin-Bass ROTK. They'll do until someone with major talent & major bucks gets their hands on it.

Wendell Wagner
01-18-2014, 07:21 AM
I think the Vonnegut adaptations I've seen haven't been too bad - Slaughterhouse-Five, the "Who Am I This Time?" episode of American Playhouse, Mother Night, and maybe Happy Birthday, Wanda June.

Meurglys
01-18-2014, 08:42 AM
Illuminatus ! is one of those unfilmable movie. Not a movie version, but it was a stage play (http://www.liverpoolconfidential.co.uk/Culture/Ken-Campbell-Illuminatus-and-other-Liverpool-romps) years ago! The descriptions of it, and the other plays they staged make them sound great! (possibly NSW if you scroll down the page a bit)

Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun could be filmed, I guess, but a lot of the subtlety would be excised... The same with Little, Big by John Crowley.

Tapioca Dextrin
01-18-2014, 05:36 PM
S (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S._%28Dorst_novel%29) by JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst would be completely unfilmable. Even the audiobook completely misses the entire point of the book.

Enola Straight
01-20-2014, 04:44 PM
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is attempting to make a movie based on an upload from Deviantart.

http://io9.com/5978430/dwayne-johnson-produce-a-movie-based-on-this-deviantart-illustration

the_diego
01-20-2014, 08:02 PM
"The Ninja" by van Lustbader. I was thinking of the sex scenes that are part of the story."

JKellyMap
01-21-2014, 02:04 AM
A high school friend of mine's father directed Ulysses circa 1970, based on the Joyce book. While it didn't get good reviews overall, several reviewers remarked on the brave attempt -- that the book is pretty much un-filmable.

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