Book-to-Movie Adaptations: Tricky Waters to Navigate
Regardless of potentially polarizing reactions, some of the greatest movies of all time have been based on or drawn influence from books – The Shawshank Redemption, The Lord of the Rings, Apocalypse Now, and The Shining to name a few. A who’s who of iconic filmmakers have rolled the dice and successfully adapted these winding narratives into condensed and satisfying cinematic experiences, often taking risky creative liberties to make the most impactful films possible.
This month on the IFD Podcast, two of our in-house bookworms, Aoife and Eimear, take a look at a few of their favourite book-to-movie adaptations, exploring the history of the titles and drawing comparisons between the different mediums.
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First up on Aoife’s list is David Fincher’s 1999 classic, Fight Club. Based on the novel of the same name, written by Chuck Palahniuk and released just 3 years prior to its visual counterpart, Fight Club has been labelled as a “coming of age film” by Fincher. The movie amassed a loyal cult following in the years after its release, featuring strong performances from Brad Pitt, Helena Bonham Carter, and Edward Norton, along with one of the most memorable endings in recent memory. Aoife explains that while it took heavy influence from the source material, the movie arguably rescued the book from eventually fading into obscurity.
“his characters feel confined by societal norms”Aoife O'Neill Gormley
Aoife’s second choice was Spike Jonze’s adaptation of the iconic 1963 children’s picture book, Where The Wild Things Are. An unconventional movie with an atmosphere that can be difficult to define, it perfectly reflects the surreal nature of Maurice Sendak’s original illustrations while simultaneously managing to feel like its own entirely unique experience. Aoife discusses the challenges facing a director when handling such a treasured work.
Eimear decided to hone in on some classics from the high school teen movies of the 90s, taking 1995’s Clueless as her first point of discussion. Loosely based on Jane Austen’s 1815 novel Emma, Eimear discusses how the film reappropriates the setting, characters, and themes to resonate with a modern audience, but maintains strong parallels to the novel with regard to its narrative structure, and how Amy Heckerling’s clever reimagining of the material ushered in an entirely new sub-genre of classic texts framed through a contemporary lens.
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Next up on Eimear’s list was Gil Junger’s 1999 rom-com 10 Things I Hate About You. A loose modernization of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, the film abides by Eimear’s case for the 90s-era obsession with recontextualizing older writings to create compelling modern stories. It acted as a springboard to success for a number of young actors, providing breakthrough roles for Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Heath Ledger.
“the spirit of Emma’s character is carried over to a new audience”Eimear O'Donoghue
Are you a book-purist that believes treasured material should be left untouched? Or do you welcome films based on your favourite books with open arms? We’d love to know what you consider to be some of the best adaptations we’ve seen to date, or what books you’d like to see on the big screen in the future!
Irish Film: Fan Favourites
“One that really stood out to me, which I would have seen when I was about 15, was Breakfast on Pluto.”
Eimear chose the comedy-drama Breakfast on Pluto as her favourite, which came out in 2005 and is based on the novel by the same name by Patrick McCabe, of Butcher Boy fame.
“It’s directed by Neil Jordan who also did The Butcher Boy and The Crying Game. Very well respected Irish director.”
Starring Cillian Murphy as the lead, a transgender woman who was abandoned at birth and grows up in a small town in rural Ireland in the 1940’s.
“They get the essence of Patrick ‘Kitten’ Braden, who’s the main character, played by Cillian Murphy in the film.”
Cillian Murphy is famed for many roles, notably as the Scarecrow in The Dark Knight trilogy, but he also played lead roles in other famous Irish films, such as Intermission and The Wind That Shakes the Barley.
“Basically it’s split into about 36 chapters. So it’s a kind of, picaresque film, where it’s just following Patrick Kitten Braden through his life.”
From her upbringing in an uncaring foster home, to running away from home with a glam rock band and getting involved with the IRA, it’s a tumultuous existence Kitty lives, and yet she does it with complete poise.
“It’s sort of Dickensian in the way that his spirit triumphs throughout.”
Featuring a whole host of stars, some of rest of the cast include Liam Neeson, Ruth Negga, Liam Cunningham and Stephen Rea.
“I’d say the best cameo in it has to be Brendan Gleeson as a Womble.”
An award winning film, Breakfast on Pluto secured four Irish Film and Television Awards and earned Cillian Murphy a Golden Globe for Best Actor.
“I’m glad I re-watched it! And the costuming is incredible.”
Aoife, who if you’ve been listening you know loves all things horror, chose the recently released The Hole in the Ground. Released at the start of March of this year, The Hole in the Ground is a horror thriller that had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January.
“It’s starring Seána Kerslake who was also in A Date for Mad Mary which I also absolutely loved. It was just such a fun movie, but this is a very different vibe.”
Seána Kerslake (pronounced Shaw-nah) is also well known for being one of the leading roles in the Irish television show, Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope. She is definitely a star on the rise in the film industry.
“It’s an interesting film because, you know we get a lot of these horror movies where these mothers are stuck in their houses and they become afraid of their children.”
A mother flees a possibly abusive relationship with her young son to the Irish countryside and settles down in a house next to a forest, where a large sinkhole sits in the centre.
“What would you do if you found out your child was becoming someone you didn’t like?”
The film draw on themes of doppelgängers and changelings, with changelings being heavily featured in Irish folklore as a cruel trick played by faeries, and doppelgängers originating from Germany and representing extreme bad luck.
“I think that Irish horror in general is having a little bit of a moment.”
Some of the more popular Irish horror films that have come out in the last decade and that we highly recommend are The Hallow, The Lodgers and The Canal. If you’re a horror fan they are definitely worth a watch!
“I wanted to talk very briefly about Without Name. This is the eco-horror.”
Directed by Lorcan Finnegan and starring Alan McKenna, this film centres on a mysterious forest and a man with something to hide.
“Extra Ordinary is coming out as well which is sort of like a, comedy horror it looks like? With Maeve Higgins in it, I think she plays a driving instructor who can converse with the dead.”
Extra Ordinary had its world premiere in March at the SXSW Film Festival in the United States. Official release date is still to be announced but it is making waves in the festival circuit.
“I feel like the Irish have a good sense of a Gothic tale.”
As the birth place of Bram Stoker, Halloween and banshees, it’s safe to say the Irish know how to tell a good horror story.
That’s not to say they can’t tell an uplifting one from time to time either! Have a listen and leave a comment, do you have a favourite Irish film? Let us know!
Samantha Lyons | Inflight Dublin
A Review of the Golden Globes and an Intro to the Oscars
Our resident film nerds are back with another podcast! This time around, Aoife and Sam chat about the recent Golden Globe winners and Oscar nominees in a few of the big categories, ahead of the bumper podcast that will be coming your way at the beginning of March. “So Bohemian Rhapsody won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture/Drama and I thought that was kind of disappointing to be honest.”
Winner of Best Motion Picture – Drama in the Golden Globes and nominated for the Oscar for Best Motion Picture, Bohemian Rhapsody also has its star Rami Malek up for an Oscar for Best Actor after winning the Golden Globe. “I think it’s just one of those films where it baits the crowd. This is exactly what people want even though it’s not what happened.”
To say these two disagreed with some of the winners is an understatement so be prepared to hear a lot of opinions about who won and who they felt should have. “That’s what I was planning to do with A Star is Born, I was like, I don’t think I’m going to like this movie and people are going to hate me for not liking it. But someone said, no, you have to go see it! So I trusted that person and I did not love it.”
Some of the breakout hits of the year that captivated audiences and critics alike, such as A Star is Born, just did not hit the mark for these two. Nominated in four categories in the Golden Globes and snagging the win for Best Original Song with “Shallow”, this popular drama has been nominated for eight Oscars over all. “It would be a bit of a kick in the teeth for the other actresses who have been around for a long time for a singer to get an Oscar on her first try.”
That’s not to say they hated everything, two films got mentioned more than once as favourites by them; Roma and The Favourite. “She was really good, she just wasn’t outstanding. Unlike Yalitza Aparicio, she was the lead in Roma and she was just absolutely outstanding. She just blew me away.” Roma took home two Golden Globes, for Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language and Best Director respectively, and is also up for a grand total of ten Oscars, competing directly with The Favourite who is up for the same after Olivia Colman’s win at the Golden Globes.
We’d love to hear your opinions on the Golden Globes and don’t forget to check back next month for our take on the Oscars 2019!
Samantha Lyons | Inflight Dublin © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. © 2018 Warner Bros. Ent. All rights reserved.