Saturday, 4 April 2015

Adapt and Survive: Part 1

 I'm not a fan of splitting the final book in a series into 2, I see no point in it but I have done it for my own blog posts.

There seems to be quite a few films in the cinema these days that are adaptations of books, Hollywood and Independent alike.

Over the last decade in fact is feels that films and television are remaking old films and series or adapting books into films and TV series.

I won't delve into remakes, my opinion on that is why remake a great film into a mediocre one, especially as the main aim is to 'bring it to a nee audience'. The 'not so great' remakes only deter viewers away. TV series on the other hand, have fared better. The 'new' adaptation of a classic novel into a TV series always seems to attract viewers, myself included. Over the last few years popular favourites like, Bleak House, Little Dorrit, Sense and Sensibility and the recent Poldark have all been great to watch. The interest in TV is still there.

The newer adaptations, have proved successful and the audiences have been broad. Game of Thrones and True Blood, already with fan bases and several books to keep stories going have been successful on HBO for an adult audience. Vampire Dairies and Gossip Girl, again, with a fan base, only made bigger by the TV shows have made waves in teens. Now with Amazon Prime, hot on the heels of video on demand Netflix, they're on the way to making new adaptations of 'The Man in the High Castle', a Philip K. Dick science fiction classic, as well as 'Bosch' a TV series based on the series of best selling books. Again, these all have fan bases eager to see the characters come to life. The TV shows with the already biggest and vocal fan bases of them all, the superhero TV shows, are making the biggest leap of all. I remember when I was a teenager, the only superhero or TV show based on a comic or comic book characters were animated shows aimed at children and Smallville. I personally don't like Superman so wasn't interested in this, I preferred Wolverine and the X-Men cartoon.

For me, the most popular adaptations seem to be costume/fantasy drama TV series and Young Adult book series, usually of the dystopian variety.

Costume dramas, adaptations of classic novels will always be popular and will always find an audience. This has been proved with recent BBC drama hit Poldark. This is actually the second time the BBC has adapted the series. Alot has been said about the lead, Aidan Turner, but there is far more than these comments. Jane Austen adaptations, TV and film alike, these again always spark interest, and 20 years on, people still talk about the BBC production of Pride and Prejudice and not just about Colin Firth's Mr Darcy. Costume dramas are still leading the way, with Thomas Hardy's Far From the Madding Crowd coming to cinemas in May this year and Madame Bovary some time later in the year.

The more recent adaptions and higher risk shows are coming from cable channels with HBO leading the way. After the major success of True Blood, adapted from a series of supernatural novels, which aired in 2008 at the height of supernatural subject interest, HBO took another gamble. They lead the way into fantasy, which has always been a tough genre to break and sustain. But they did it with the ground breaking Game of Thrones coming into it's 5th series. The series as many know is adapted from the novel series A Song of Fire and Ice. Adaptations like this lead the fold. Obviously, Peter Jackson, Tolkien and the making of the greatest trilogy, The Lord of Rings did help a great deal in bring fantasy to the attention of everyone and not just the die hard fans of Tolkien's work.

As for the YA novel readers out there, there are plenty of adaptations planned, released, coming soon and they are coming thick and fast. Just when one franchise looks like its ending, another one is beginning. When I was a development intern, our sole project sometimes was to find the next 'Hunger Games'. The Hunger Games was the one made everyone sit up and notice, not only Jennifer Lawrence but the genre itself. Bring war and hope into a dystopian future, it found success because it was a strong heroine taking center stage in pretty dire circumstances. Saying this, I can see why studios made the Divergent series. It's basically trying so hard to be The Hunger Games but the story is all over the place and too complicated, it lost a bit of momentum but that seems to be just me as it's done amazing at the box office. Another example of a winning formula is The Maze Runner series. I really enjoyed the first two books and am really looking forward to The Scorch Trials. Where the hero is male but the story is the same, fight for survival in a dystopian future, but with this series, there is an air of mystery.  The adaptations will keep on coming with the announcement of The Knife of Letting Go being made into a film, the first book in the award winning series of Chaos Walking. Again unknown future with strange set up, lead is male but its again, about survival. Probably another hit in the making.

Along with TV series, comic book movies and studio productions, there are the smaller films, independent films adapted from books that have not always made a big splash. Gregg Araki's latest film is an adaptation, based on the book of the same name, White Bird in a Blizzard, where a teenage recalls when her mother suddenly disappeared and the effect this had on her. Last year's The Double based a novella of the same name by Fyodor Dostoyevsky about a man pursued by his doppelganger. These films found an audience either through those who read the book, liked the director's work or were intrigued by the story.

The same could be said for books that everyone was reading. A prime example is Dan Brown's book that sold millions of copies for its controversial elements, practically attacking the Catholic church. Of course I mean The Da Vinci Code. The book was then turned into a mediocre film. Adaptations such as Gone Girl and Fifty Shades of Grey already had an audience and felt like a film was inevitable.

I am only merely scratching at the surface of all adaptations, don't even get me started on children's films there were based on books and successful books by foreign writers which have encouraged audiences to watch more world cinema films, there is too much to explore.

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