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Page to Screen: Top Books to Movies 2012 #1
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The relationship between the written word and the movie industry has been a lasting one. Like any lasting relationship there are good times and bad times, productive couplings and disastrous dalliances.
When they work harmoniously the book transcends the pages, arrives in a grander much more refreshing form as a movie under the careful tutelage of its Director and production team. We love to see a book we adore become a better film. We may bicker and moan, especially when some of our favourite bits, our favourite characters perhaps, get left out. But overall we will love the end result.
When it fails, it does spoil a good book. A poor adaptation can leave a very bad taste in the mouth. We curse the author for selling out; the writer may disown the narrative, and all around there may be a smell of a cheap cash in on the books popularity.
THE WRITTEN WORD
The reader in us loves a book. We devour the carefully crafted lines and if the writer is any good, we paint a picture in our brains. The more we read, the grander the vista. soon we make our own movies in our head. We know what the characters look like as we conjure up the sights and the scenes in a story. Good writers leave enough room for the artist in us to direct our own movie.
When a producer, director or an actor read the same story, they want to share that vision with the wider world. They want to make an actual movie and populate it with splendid actors. They will take the scenario and do splendid production design. Sometimes these grand visions come alive much better than they do in our heads and we love the end result. sometimes, the film falls short of our expectations. Our brain, in these circumstances, is a much better production crew than those who made the film!
Sometimes I feel it is an unfair judgement too. The book and film are different creatures. A two and half hour visual narrative is an intrinsically different beast compared to a book. The screenwriter and the Director need to make some tough choices, knowing what to leave and what to take out, as well as ensure it works as a film. It certainly is not as easy as some make it out to be.
Here, we have a selection of popular books ( and some not so popular ones) that are already under production and are arriving in a cinema near you. Lets hope the teams behind these film adaptations have enough sense to nurture the authors vision and perhaps enhance it.
Author: DAVID MITCHELL
This wonderfully crafted novel was published in 2004 to much critical acclaim and got nominated for the Man Booker Prize, Nebula and the Arthur C Clarke awards. Deservedly so.
It is a complex yet captivating narrative of six 'nested' stories, much like the Russian matryoshka dolls. The tales range from the late 19th century to a post-apocalyptic future. The clever plotting and broad panorama are populated with diverse characters. Each story is either read or observed by a character in the next. The author, David Mitchell, keeps the reader gripped and engaged by interrupting each of the story at a chronological point and starts the next. At the end, the stories start 'collapsing' back to the origin with each denouements cascading back from the future to the past.
The writer is thus able to paint wonderful visions set in diverse historical settings. It at once is a thriller, a human interest tale, a literary juggling act, a meditation in humanity and much, much more. It will be tough act to film, but in the capable hands of the Warchowski brothers ( Matrix trilogy) one could hope it will turn into a dazzling spectacle. The ensemble cast includes Tom Hanks, Hugo Weaving, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant and Susan Sarandon.
Cloud Atlas: Release date OCTOBER 2012
Cast & Crew
Direction & Screenplay
Direction & Screenplay
Dr Henry Goose
Characters- ActorsClick thumbnail to view full-size
THE WETTEST COUNTY IN THE WORLD
Author: MATT BONDURANT
Based on the illicit brewing of moonshine in Franklin County, Virginia, this is a story of the Bondurant brothers ( the author's grandfather and two granduncles) who were heavily involved in bootleg trade. Growing up in the Bondurant household, the author Max listened to family stories of the illicit activities that later stimulated the writing of this wonderful historical novel. Although largely factual, the author explains how difficult it was to get accurate details from the people involved, as no one openly talked about the bootleg era.
Published in 2008, it garnered critical and commercial acclaim. The historical basis for the novel centers around the Great moonshine conspiracy trial of 1935. During the prohibition era, the locals prided themselves that Franklin county was the moonshine capital of the world. allegedly 99 out of 100 households were in someway involved in illicit distilling and selling of moonshine during that era.
The trials and tribulations of the Bondurant brothers, their involvement in the moonshine trade and their loves and lives forms the basis of this wonderful novel which paints a rich and dangerous historical tapestry. Much like Boardwalk Empire ( based on Atlantic city during prohibition era) The Wettest county puts Franklin firmly on the map. The locals are apparently still proud of the 'Moonshine capital of the World' tag, as it gives them a sense of civic pride in their endurance and entrepreneurship during the American prohibition.
The story of the Bondurant brothers is being made ready for a August 2012 release, directed by John Hillcoat ( The Road) and written by Nick Cave for the screen. It is being produced by those Hollywood Heavyweights behind many successful Oscar Campaigns, The Weinstein Brothers. This has Oscar potential written all over it. Period drama, prohibition era and featuring a great cast including Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, Shia LaBeouf, Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska and many others.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN - VAMPIRE HUNTER
AUTHOR: SETH GRAHAME SMITH
A delicious mash up of history and vampire lore, this novel hit the bestseller lists and created a whole new genre' the mashup' novels. The author Seth Grahame Smith had already set the literary world buzzing with his wonderful ' Pride and Prejudice with Zombies' .
The wry, gripping 'alternate biography' of Abe Lincoln tells how right from the age of eleven, Lincoln had learnt of the existence of Vampires from his father. He swears to kill as many in his lifetime as he can, as a revenge for his Mothers death.
Abe soon realises that he is not a physical match for all his vampire enemies. After a chance encounter with a more powerful vampire, Henry, he is told that there are 'good' vampires and 'evil' ones. Henry then trains Abe in vampire combat and many kickass adventures ensue. As Abe discovers that the vampires want to carve out a nation of their own out of the United States, it is all out war.
Skilfully weaving historical perspective with madcap vampire adventure, this 'mashup' links several key events in Lincoln life to the vampire lore, making it into a 'believable' knit. As this was a NY times bestseller for several months, it is no surprise it was optioned and has been made into an action-horror-adventure by that Russian king of vampire movies, Timur Bekmambetov ( Nightwatch, Daywatch). It is also produced by the master of the gothic himself, Tim Burton.
Featuring a relative unknown Benjamin Walker as Abe Lincoln, the film also features Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Dominic Cooper, Alan Tudyk and Rufus Sewell.
Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Hunter Release June 2012
Cast and Crew
Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Mary Todd Lincoln
Nancy Hanks Lincoln
Read, Watch and Enjoy
So there you have it dear leader, the first section of page to screen. There are more delectable offerings on their way. From Scott Fitzgerald's American masterpiece to more zombie mayhem, there are books leaping to a screen near you. will see you shortly with the next set. Hope you enjoyed this outing.
Now how good is your book to film knowledge?
Take the page to screen quiz to test your mettle. Prove to the world that when it comes to knowing your books and films, you are indeed, a master.
© Mohan Kumar 2012
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