Adaptations

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Adaptations

Unread postby Shu Ryorin » Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:40 am

There are many ways one can approach the task of adapting a story from one medium into another. They may attempt to stay as faithful to the source material as humanly possible, try to expand on the source material, change it to better suit current tastes, have the plot only loosely follow the original plot while attempting to preserve the feel of the original, revision the story in a different setting, etc, etc, etc.

What do you think makes for a good adaptation? Is there only one right way or are there multiple? What are some adaptations you think really worked? Some that didn't? Anything else I'm not thinking of?

This can apply to any story-telling medium being adapted into any other. Books, movies, games, radio dramas, comics, animation... whatever.
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Re: Adaptations

Unread postby Starscream » Tue Apr 24, 2012 11:12 am

It sounds like my thesis topic years ago.... :shock:

Adaptations good or bad depends on whether the works turn out to be what the adapter originally intended it to be and also who are the audience judging the work.

In a non-academic way of arguing, I will cite the Red Cliffs movie as my example. The director claimed that the movie would be historical in terms of plot. Then we have Xiao Qiao all over the place and interrupting what could have been heroic moments for men. Hence I say it was a poorly adapted movie because it was neither historical nor novel like and the focus of the story was just completely off. The movie did not meet my expectation of the claim the director made basically.

Whereas for works that deviate from the original storyline and tries to re-explain character behaviours by inserting sub-plots, different points of view, etc, they can be good or bad adaptations depending on how closely the audience choose to interpret the original plot. The hardcore purists will demand to follow line for line like a Noh play. For them, a good adaptation will be one that is able to show the finest bit of the story and they will watch closely to see if the particular scene appears or not. Some others would prefer a refreshing take of the original as long as new stories are injected within reasonable boundaries of imagination. It is difficult to explain how to define what makes an adaptation faithful/unfaithful to the original, i.e. whether the adaptation has the "essence". Highly debatable in fact.

So for example, character A in the original story is an angry person and would frequently offend people. The adaptation shows Character A to get in trouble with someone important because of his temper. This is somewhat a reasonable assumption in storytelling. But if the adaptation rewrites the part to say character A is so frustrated with the world that he commits suicide, then that's probably too random. There will be loads of explaining to do and the audience may or may not buy it.

And so I conclude... DW is quite a refreshing adaptation of RTK except that the costumes are getting a bit too wayward and the character dialogues are a tad bit cheesy. Entertaining nevertheless. :mrgreen:
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Re: Adaptations

Unread postby Kong Wen » Thu Sep 27, 2012 1:57 am

One of my favourite adaptations, Adaptation (2002), is an entertaining and intellectual examination of the purpose and work of adaptations. :)
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Re: Adaptations

Unread postby TPMThorne » Tue Feb 05, 2013 11:01 pm

Starscream poses the point well. Red Cliff was an enormous disappointment in a lot of ways, because it pandered to certain desired scenes and put things in there that really did not belong, like that odd take on the Qiao sister obsession. The problem with adaptations is the author's desire to make points, a massive gaping hole in the history that needs filling to have a coherent story, and sometimes, just making a very boring period in history interesting by moving events around or exaggerating something. Then there's the 'side-taking'... Three Kingdoms will always have its own north-south-west divide, with people villifying Sima Yi, deifying Liu Bei or making Zhou Yu vain and sneaky. There is always the audience to think about... there is definitely a desire for the blatantly inaccurate bits if they're entertaining.

I remember when I read 'Taiko'. I came away from that book thinking that Hideyoshi Toyotomi was a very amiable fellow, since the author found ways to justify his actions at all times. And then I read up. In some ways, that novel can almost be seen as a Japanese ROTK: it is a great read - my opinion, of course - but there are a lot of historical inaccuracies, done to tell a more warming story.

Actually, Transformers is a fine example of adaptation done badly. I remember as a child thinking 'Nobody ever acts in-character, he would not say that, why do they not just get so-and-so to deal with that, why does he not just use that gun he has that melts things here, etc'. Yes, I know they were toys, but with a range of personalities and abilities that could actually make it the ROTK of the robot genre, they really didn't try that hard at all. That's something that's annoyed me for years. The most annoying thing about some adaptations is when there is a really obvious route that it could take to best exploit the material, and it goes off on some other tangent, producing an inferior work, apparently for no other reason than a creative left-turn. I cite 'Three Kingdoms: Ressurection of the Dragon' as my argument. That really almost vindicates John Woo, that does.
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Re: Adaptations

Unread postby Kotaro » Wed Feb 13, 2013 3:41 pm

The level of 'faith' to source material is something I've always found rather interesting, because while it will theoretically mean that this leads to a good adaptation, it may not lead to a good final product. For instance, while the film (I think it was a TV movie) of 'Death of a Salesman' with Dustin Hoffman is an excellent adaptation, in it's staging and script (I'm pretty sure it just takes Miller's play word for word), but since it's source is a play, there are elements that don't translate well into a cinematic medium.

Whereas on the other side of that fence, we have Kubrick's film adaptation of 'The Shining', which is rather unfaithful to say the least, and interestingly a lot of the pop culture things people take away from 'The Shining' are a product of adaptation displacement, which is to say that moments like "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" and "here's Johnny!" (itself a shot for shot reference of a scene from 'The Phantom Carriage') come from the film, not the book. However, as a final product, the cinematic version of 'The Shining' is nothing short of a horror masterpiece.

So faith in source material in relation to the quality of a final product, in my opinion, is very much tied into the medium that it's being transferred to. Where films like 'Death of a Salesman' and 'A Dangerous Method' suffer is by perhaps not embracing the ability that their new medium offers, whereas something like 'The Shining', which is admittedly unfaithful to it's source, does do that, with solid results.
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Re: Adaptations

Unread postby areeba » Fri Apr 10, 2015 11:22 am

I imagine it is quite fair to say that every form of government has certain integral flaws. Democracy, for example, lends great voice to the people and sometimes people are idiots (incidentally, this is where Democracy building encounters problems—lend some voice to the people and they just might do something you didn't expect with that voice). Democracy is also far from immune to corruption and corruptive influence as the United States demonstrates aptly, and does not free itself from the consequences of those intoxicated by power. I think a person could very easily take individual examples and present them as bugs, but to say the system is simply excellent with only bugs remaining to be worked out ignores that Democracy is necessarily sloppy in many regards and those 'bugs', in many cases, are going to come and go—wax and wane—ad infinitum.
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