SUBMITTED BY MARK WOODARD
Scenario: Your favorite novel is being adapted into a movie. Maybe your anticipation is tinged with dread. Will it be a success or a misfire? Results may vary.
Brevity is no obstacle for a good, expansive film. The Birds, The Shawshank Redemption, and Brokeback Mountain are all short stories magnificently enhanced by the big screen. It’s a marvel these films managed to meet – even exceed – expectations, considering their rabid readership. Casting is key. International searches for actors to play Scarlett O’Hara and Harry Potter are the stuff of legend. Tom Cruise’s casting as Lestat in the film version of Interview with the Vampire met with a fair amount of derision from readers and, especially, author Anne Rice. P.S. Travers publically scorned Disney’s hit musical version of her popular novel Mary Poppins. Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining is either passionately adored or loathed, depending on whom you are talking to, but there can be sweet solace for even the most disgruntled authors. Previously unheralded titles like Forrest Gump and The Revenant often become bestsellers after their movie versions are released.
Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby seems stubbornly unfilmable. Translated to the screen three times, each version failed to meet high expectations at the box office. Maybe stars Alan Ladd, Robert Redford, and Leonardo DiCaprio were unable to satisfy readers’ imaginations when it came to inhabiting the elusive character of Jay Gatsby. No audacious director has tackled the highly-introspective Catcher in the Rye, a novel of which many readers are protective and territorial. Movie versions must withstand author and reader scrutiny while also satisfying a general public unfamiliar with the book – a task so daunting that it has its own Academy Award category, Best Adapted Screenplay. For 2016: The BFG, Me Before You, The Girl on the Train. Readers, get ready…we await your reviews.