Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Unfilmables: The Hardest Novels to Film

A number of movies coming out of Hollywood these days are, literary in origin, being based on novels. While some novels are easily translated to screen (like the best selling non-literary novels in IWE) some novels can prove difficult. And there remain a few novels that many fear to touch.

Screenhead has put up a list of the novels that are believed to be the most difficult to adapt. The list includes such notables as James Joyce’s yawn inducing stream-of-consciousness opus Ulysses and Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past. No surprises there. Also making it to the list is Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 100 Years of Solitude and Kafka's Metamorphosis. Again no surprises.

I confess the only books I am a bit surprised to find Cervantes' Don Quixote and JD Salinger's seminal Catcher in the Rye on the list. Both books by my reckoning would make good films.

From the kind of stuff that I prefer reading, I think Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea series of books would also be very difficult to translate into a movie. I believe that the BBC did make a television series out of the books, but a movie still remains elusive. In terms of action, on the surface, so very little happens in these books that I doubt if any director or studio would touch Le Guin's powerful tales.

Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series is another set that directors must fear to touch for much the same reasons as Earthsea. Excellent stories, but very little action.

What about Indian works? Amitav Ghosh's The Hungry Tide is being adapted for a movie. But would anyone dare touch The Shadow Lines? It's a lovely tale but I fear anyone would balk at attempting to transfer the novel's complex narrative web on to the screen.

1 comment:

Simon J said...

The Sci-Fi Network did a version of Wizard of Earthsea recently. If you get a chance to see it, don't. It's dreadful.