Using a book as a basis for a film always brings up questions about what makes a good adaptation. Many people look for strict loyalty to the text, but I don’t fall into this category. My favorites are inspired reworking of the material, where the essence of the original work is there, but with the unmistakeable stamp of the auteur blending with it to create a new work. Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet is a great example; the plot and characters are immediately recognizable and follow the same general path, but in completely new, Luhrmann-style dressing.
Lately, it seems like remakes of old movies and literary adaptations are outnumbering the original screenplays. And 2012 is proving to be a fantastic year for adaptations; we have Great Expectations, The Great Gatsby, and The Hobbit all coming out this year, and I’m excited for all of them. As a great lover of Jackson’s LOTR movies, I feel certain The Hobbit will not disappoint, and I have high hopes for the other two. Have you seen older adaptations of Great Expectations? I’m thinking this one has to be better than the Cuarón’s 1998 version with Ethan Hawke.
But I digress! One of the newest is Life of Pi, based on Yann Martel’s 2001 novel. I read this book in college, as a text for an education class when I still thought I would be a high school teacher (it was only a year before I snapped to my senses). What struck me the most about the work, and what has stayed with me these 8 or so years later, is the animalistic/spiritual dance between the boy and the tiger. There was beauty in their relationship, tinged with absolute bloodthirst, which made those crystallized moments lovely and dangerous, the best combination.
The trailer for the film looks promising (but don’t all trailers, to some degree?), especially in the visually pleasing sense. There are some movies that I love to watch; Pan’s Labrinyth is one that is beautiful even subtracted from its action, which of course is pretty badass and makes the film fantastic. With a director like Ang Lee, I’m sure we will be treated to a stunning movie. And although the trailer spends too much time on the expository, I am hoping that is because Lee wants to save all the real action that takes place on the boat for the actual movie.
What do you think? How do you feel about adaptations? Do you like to see them? I find that even if I don’t like the movie, I still like seeing the adaptation so I can compare the two (that’s the old professor in me). Also, it needs to be said, someone please make a parody about a curmudgeonly old French baker who lost his true love years ago and poured his soul into making gâteaux and tartes called Life of Pie.