First things first: "From Page to Screen" is a new column I'm trying here at Cinematical. Each week I'll discuss in detail a book that serves as the source material for either an upcoming or a past film adaptation. In the case of forthcoming films, I'll talk about the prospects for the adaptation: the challenges of bringing the particular book to the screen, the casting, the plot, the literary intangibles that so often wind up missing from the resulting movies. In the case of past films, I'll discuss the adaptation's approach to its source: what changed, what stayed the same, what worked and what didn't. Oh, and I'll actually have read the books.
I never tire of repeating my simple philosophy when it comes to adaptations: books are not movies. What works on the page won't always work on the screen. To demand total faithfulness to the book is folly, and will usually lead to a crappy movie. (This is also the case, by the way, for "true stories" and biopics -- people's lives, no matter how interesting, don't always, or even often, make for good films.) But that, I think, makes my task here more interesting rather than less. What does it take for an adaptation to work -- as a film in its own right, or as a translation of the source material?
The idea for this came from a number of discussions I've had here on the site. People are passionate about the books they love, and protective of them. The adaptation process is fun to talk about -- and even more fun when you've read the book and can have an informed conversation. I hope you'll join me, and I plan to be active in the comment threads.