Adaptation is a lofty task. In most cases, screenwriters are attempting to take the complexities of hundreds of pages of prose and turn them into a couple of hours of action and dialogue for us to witness people act out. Directors, in turn, often try to capture the tones and meanings behind the source material that has inspired the film. This is not only a big undertaking, the scale of adapting an especially beloved novel or comic or play must be daunting in itself, but it’s a delicate thing. People tend to be finicky when it comes to adaptations. Be too straightforward with it, and people will be bored, finding the movie version redundant if it does nothing to add to the book. But be too bold in your interpretation, straying from the source material or simply using it as a jumping off point for your own artistic intentions, and everyone loses their minds.
The Great Gatsby is the adapted movie facing this scrutiny at the moment. Many have voiced their displeasure with the liberties director Baz Luhrmann has taken, some going so far as to say he seemed to have viewed the actual source material as an inconvenience. Whether the movie succeeds on its artistic and entertainment merits of not is less interesting to me than the apparent fact that this project was going to be deemed a failure by a large contingent of the critical community no matter what it did. That is, it’s really hard to judge a movie on its merits when you object to the fact that it’s being made, who it’s being made by, and how it’s being made, in this case in 3D. It would take a miracle to change people’s foregone conclusions.
But often, adaptations that push the boundaries of what it even means to adapt a popular novel, comic, or play can be far more interesting, satisfying, and impressive in scope than those that prefer to play it safe. If nothing else, you have to admire their balls. Here are 6 of the ballsiest movie adaptations that range from the beloved to the despised.
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