After over a year of writing Lost in Translation, two items recently stood out. One was the concept of the partial adaptation, as seen with Blade Runner and Scott Pilgrim vs the World. While neither movie adapted everything from their original works, what was adapted was true to the original.
Partial adaptations allow taking what is adaptable out of a story without having to sacrifice screen time to explaining an odd occurance. Blade Runner is a good example. The original, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, went further in setting up the time and the aftermath of a nuclear war. The nature of religion had changed drastically, with Mercerism and Buster Friendly at odds for the spiritual audience. In a movie, explaining the religions would detract from the main plot line, adding yet another level of complexity to a movie that was already getting the audience to question reality. The addition could have turned away audiences, or, worse, studio execs. The catch with a partial adaptation, especially when the original work is still being made, is figuring out what can be cut. A complete work makes it easy; the adapter can experience the original and pull out the plot threads needed. In larger works, such as the Harry Potter series, removal of a scene in the first book may cause problems several books later.
The other item that came up recently was the order of viewing. So far, I’ve made sure to watch/read/experience the original work first, then watch/read/experience the adaptation. What I’ve run into, though, is that I’ve watched movies that were remakes or adaptations without realizing it. Movies like Bedazzled and The Mummy* were remakes that weren’t touted as such. This brings about a change in methodology.
The normal way, with the original first, would have me looking for differences in the adaptation, looking at how the adaptation differed from the original. With the experiencing reversed, I’d be looking for similarities in the original. The reversal allows for the adaptation to feature on its own, at least at first, with any problems with it coming from script and casting instead of accuracy. The original work is now receiving the judgement instead of the adaptation. In the future, I will make note of when I approach a review backwards, that is, adaptation first. Chances are, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter will be the first work looked at in this manner.
Next week, I am on hiatus. In fact, I am on hiatus for the month of November. I am lining up guest posts, though, and will have an adaptation news round up around mid-month. The reason for the hiatus is NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month, where I will be applying what I’ve learned in Lost in Translation to write a novel in thirty days.
* Both remakes starred Brendan Fraser.