Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Rating Game Redux (26): Novel Movie Ideas

Our local paper asked for "Best Movies Based on Novels." The following three came to mind pretty quickly. I'll follow this with an addendum.

The Lord of the Rings (2001-03)

Despite plot changes and deletions, Peter Jackson exuberantly devotes ten-plus hours to J.R.R. Tolkein’s never-can-be-filmed work—and pleases just about everybody, even those who find the books a bit creaky.

In Cold Blood (1967)

If Capote’s work is a “nonfiction novel,” then Richard Brooks’ film is a fictionalized documentary. And thanks to Conrad Hall’s dust-bowl-noir cinematography and Quincy Jones’ exclamatory music—and most of all, Scott Wilson’s and Robert Blake’s Dick and Perry—the movie gazes into the abyss with lidless courage.

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (2005)

The first postmodern novel (which just happened to be written in the late eighteenth century), Tristram Shandy’s fractal-ized narrative becomes a Russian nesting doll of a movie-within-a-movie—without restraints. As funny a deconstruction of an already-deconstructed book as it is of filmmaking—and the egos necessary to make a movie about a man who cannot stop referencing himself.

More great novels-to-movies. The rule for me here is that the movie should (a) refelct the "spirit" of its source and/or (b) re-imagine the novel. After all, if I want just the novel--all its plot, characters and details--there's always, you know, the novel.

Wise Blood
A Clockwork Orange
The Maltese Falcon
The Big Sleep
(Bogart version)
Naked Lunch
(Coppola's version, Lugosi's performance)
The Age of Innocence
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
(Siegel's and Kaufman's versions)

A decidedly partial list--in both senses of the term. Feel free to add your own.

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