Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Adapting Great Expectations

David Nicholls, author of the hit novel One Day, has always loved Dickens's novel. As the film version is about to be released, he reveals how he set about his adaptation.

From a piece in the Guardian...

A good, strong heartfelt adaptation is the next best thing to pressing the novel into someone's hand; listen to this story, it's wonderful, thrilling, it will make you cry. An adaptation leads the cinema-goer to the original to find out what they're missing and if they already know the book, it can still illuminate a theme, a character, an idea. Of course, when it doesn't work, it can be maddening, like reading an edition that someone else has defaced; why have they underlined this passage, but crossed out that? What are all these extra doodles? Why are my favourite pages torn out?

The process of writing a novel and adapting one are hugely different. It takes genius to conjure up Pip, Estella, Magwitch, Miss Havisham. Screenwriting is creative certainly, but it's also editorial, technical, pragmatic and collaborative. So what follows are some notes and observations on adaptation, some of the dilemmas thrown up by the process and the reasoning behind the solutions.

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