Adaptation Paper

Fantastic Mr. Fox Adaptation Paper

The Book

roald dahl

Integral to understanding the styling’s of Roald Dahl you must understand the man. Roald Dahl was born in Cardiff Wales to Norwegian parents. Life was not kind to Dahl, when he was three years old his sister and father died within weeks of each other. His sister died of appendicitis and his father from pneumonia while out on a fishing trip. Dahl had a miserable experience in Catholic school while growing up, Dahl wrote in his autobiography that his experiences in school led him to have resentful feelings and doubt towards the ideas of religion and god.  Dahl was not a happy go lucky personality already, and then in 1939 joined the Royal Air Force. Among his experiences in WWII Dahl had near death experiences that he later writes about.

The point being here the Dahl is not the typical candidate to write children’s stories like Fantastic Mr. Fox. Writing children’s stories was also not Roald’s first venture into writing. Dahl spent the early part of his career righting Macabre and adult stories. Where Dahl made the switch to children’s novels in the later part of his career, he was never able to shed the influences that his life had on his writing. The aspects of his life that made him a hardened and cynical individual.

Phillip French of the Observer makes the point

The precision, brevity and clarity of Roald Dahl’s literary style probably derived from the way you learn to give orders, keep logs, write situation reports and contribute to debriefings as an officer in the armed forces. His realism, lack of sentimentality, distrust of the adult world and streak of cruelty came from experiencing childhood, the class system and public schools from an alien perspective (a boy of Norwegian parents observing British institutions), followed by Second World War service as an RAF fighter pilot and subsequent intelligence work in Washington.  

Dahl’s children’s stories tend to shame the adult life and make the adult characters out to be baboons. The message received more often than not is one of a cautionary tale; to avoid becoming like the average adult. Charlie and the Chocolate factory has the bizarre characteristics associated with a typical Dahl story. Characters in the book all have their own vices, facilitated by their parents. Individually this leads to their doom in one way or another. There is not much friendly about Dahl’s stories on the surface, often the hard truths are delivered, he isn’t one for sugar coating a message.

In Fantastic Mr. Fox, the farmers are the enemies, plain and simple. The opening paragraph of the book puts it in perspective.

Down in the valley there were three farms.
The owners of these farms had done well.
They were rich men.
They were also nasty men.

It’s important to the story that the farmers were rich men. There is a pseudo socialist message being provided by the depiction of the farmers. They have all the best technology, their farm is extremely prosperous, yet they will not share any of the yield with Fox’s family and his friends. Fox is forced to steal from these men just to feed his family. At the one point where Fox and his community is trapped underground and being starve out by the farmers, Fox goes into Robin Hood mode and steals from the greedy farmers to feed the starving community. The book ends with the stupid farmers above land, in the rain, with their guns pointed at the hole, waiting for Fox to appear again. The farmers have excess but their pride won’t let them forgive fox for outsmarting them. The story lacks a magical element and just paints the humans as dumb, prideful, and greedy – this is just Dahl’s brand of a children’s story.

 

The Movie

Wes Anderson is an indie film auteur. He has written and directed each one of his releases, all of which have a distinct style that instantly jump out at the viewer, informing them that they are watching a Wes Anderson movie. The ‘style’ most of the time can be described as quirky or offbeat, but there is truly a lot more to what makes a Wes Anderson movie unique. Aesthetically there is intentional color pallets that Anderson selects for each of his films. Usually he has a large say in the wardrobe, casting and setting of all his films. Controlling nearly every aspect of a movie is by definition what makes an auteur. “Auteur – A filmmaker whose personal influence and artistic control over a movie are so great that the filmmaker is regarded as the author of the movie.” This definition then raises the awareness that although Fantastic Mr. Fox is an adaptation, the level of care that went into developing this movie makes it a standalone piece of art separate from the book.

That is not to say Anderson did not have a strong foundation to build off of.  Mark Browning, the writer of “Wes Anderson: Why his movies matter” has this to say about Fantastic Mr Fox as a subject for a Anderson adaptation.

Fantastic Mr. Fox provides Anderson with elements ideal for his filmmaking aesthetic: a fictional world entirely at his disposal, which he and control to a greater extent than any of his previous work, and the possibility to indulge fully his penchant for characters who are quirky yet engaging demands a repeat viewing.

Wes Anderson’s choice to adapt this using stop motion animation gave him several advantages. One being that the film would not have to directly live up the illustrations by Donald Chaffing but rather reimagine the work in his own way. The original illustrations are a bit crude, but in an intentional way. The pictures were not meant to be clean and colored inside the lines, it gives a bit of the feeling that a child illustrated the story himself. The movie also captures this feeling. The stop motion is intentionally done poorly and choppy, to give the effect of being crude and having the look that a child playing with dolls would have. Other advantages which come with the stop motion animation is the avoidance of being lumped into the CGI/cartoon pool or movies that an artist like Wes Anderson no doubt would like to avoid. Finally Anderson gets a chance to craft sets for the film that he can deal with by hand instead of looking over the shoulder of some editor making a CGI film. The experience gets more ‘hands on’ which am sure Anderson enjoyed.

Stephanie Zacharek:

As a work of animation, and of art, “Fantastic Mr. Fox” is wily, clever and mischievous, without ever being too arch or knowing. It also has the distinct aura of something that’s been made entirely by hand with care and affection — a few misshapen nubs here and there only add to the charm.

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The Adaptation

Apparently Wes Anderson had been aching to adapt this story for most of his career. He claims that Fantastic Mr. Fox was the first book he ever owned, so the ties to the book and the motivation to make it a movie was very strong.

In the movie Wes Anderson goes through much effort to retain the mark of Roald Dahl and Dolan Tariff in both the illustrations and writing. The themes Dahl deals with of the struggle between the over consumption of the farmers and their unnatural ways with Fox’s more natural animalistic approach. There is commentary on the resistance of animalistic urges for more civilized means. Wes Anderson preserves this sentiment, but actually develops over top of it. Brings it up to 2009 if you will. Anderson chooses to develop the story line of Fox making an effort to change his ways and resist doing what he was made to do as a fox. Instead of the story ending with the animals underground feasting on stolen farmer’s goods, they now live underground and shoplift from grocery stores that the farmers supply. This is a great example of how you can change an ending of a story or add onto it without taking away from intention of the author. Fox still ends up sticking it to the farmers in the end, but he has reeled in his crazy fox antics this time. Whether it be by choice or just a sign of the times Adrienne Kreutzer has this to say about the updated ending.

The distance between the world of the lone wolf and the grocery store that is the only option remaining in Mr. Fox’s arsenal of trickery. This is not exactly happily ever after, but the American dream circa 2009

Certain parts of the Adaptation do take some liberty in the direction into some territory that Dahl maybe did not intend. Anderson seems to have an affinity for father son stories and in the film adaptation he consolidates all of Fox’s children into just one son. Anderson claims in an interview with collider magazine that part of the decision was to just aid in the telling of the story in movie format, but also in general

Wes Anderson says of this change

In the book, they don’t really have individual identities, his children, and we made a story of his son, his visiting cousin. That was partly, I guess we just felt like for a movie it was better, rather than having this whole group to just focus on one personality and to develop a story for him.
This whole storyline is a typical element from Wes Anderson Films, the dysfunctional family with an estranged father, and adopted son type scenario (I’m thinking Ned Plimpton from Life Aquatic and Eli Cash from Royal Tenenbaums).  Bringing in Kristofferson as a character is a whole storyline that Dahl would have never incorporated, but it worked for the film, and it did so without stomping on any of the other storylines from the book. So Andersons touch does end up in the movie via his enhancements of certain elements of the book as well as constructions done on his own.

In the end Dahl wrote children’s stories that could not seem to escape the cynicism that he packed on through his life experiences. In the adaptation, Wes Anderson captured these quirks by studying Dahl as a man and internalizing the message behind his work. But Wes Anderson also seems to have trouble shedding his own quirks, as evidenced by things like the dysfunctional family themes that he ends up weaving into the films he makes. The product of this marriage is a movie that preserves Dahl’s voice as a writer and adds Wes Andersons hand as a filmmaker.

wes-anderson-fantastic-mr-fox

Works Cited:

1. Dahl, Roald (1984). Boy: Tales of Childhood. Puffin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-130305-5.

2.  http://valuedminds.com/reviews/fantastic-mr-fox/  – Paranoid convervative

3 .Adrienne Kertzer –“ Fidelity, Felicity, and Playing Around in Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox” Childrens Literature Association Quarterly, Volume 36, (Spring 2011)

4.Wes Anderson: Why his movies matter – Mark Browning

5. “Fantastic Mr. Fox” (review) -The Observer (The Guardian) -Philip French -October 25 2009
http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2009/oct/25/fantastic-mr-fox-review

6.Steve Weintraub – Wes Anderson interview (2009) – Collider

http://collider.com/wes-anderson-interview-fantastic-mr-fox  

 

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The Watchmen

Analyze the Book
1. The Watchmen is a graphic novel written by Alan Moore in 1986. The story takes place in an alter-reality America, in this reality America is on the brink of nuclear war and Nixon is still president. Alan Moore is quite the character and isn’t afraid to make substantial political statements in his writing, as evidenced by the general plot of the Watchmen. For this Alan has been praised and awarded for the way he has taken the comic book to a more serious level. Alan choses to make complex characters rather than the cookie cutter superhero comic book characters that were so popular before his era.

Analyze the Film
2. Zack Snyder, the film’s director has made a career off adapting graphic novels to film. His first notable product being the Frank Miller novel 300. As with any cult following’s subject of affection it was difficult to swallow the release of The Watchmen film. Condensing the source material down to one film caused for much of the back story to be omitted or turned into a montage. The movie clearly has the visual stylings of the comic book. The films lighting, setting, and wardrobes are very dark and dirty, the intentional ‘anti-super hero’ look a fan would expect from the comic.

Analyze the Adaptation
3. Zack Snyder adaptation of Alan Moore’s comic has drawn much backlash from fans of the graphic novel. While from someone who has read the story not much is apparently wrong with the superhero movie we were expected to see in the Watchmen. This is perhaps the most ironic part, since going into the movie we were use to the violence and the sensationalism, we did not pick up on the goal of the graphic novels story, so undo all of the hollywood stereo types behind superheros.  A lot of substance was lost in translation and the lingering impression of The Watchmen from someone who only saw the movie is very different than the author of the books intention.

Research
4.

http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/watchmen-2009

Apparently Ebert is really a fan of the movie. He nods to the complexity inherit in the story. Its interesting because he isn’t jaded by the comparison to the graphic novel.

http://sepinwall.blogspot.com/2009/03/at-movies-watchmen.html

Once again another reviewer who thought the movie did a great job adapting but explains that any movie adaptation would be an uphill battle. Makes a great point that perhaps an HBO 12-part series could do the comic some justice.

http://filmvsbook.blogspot.com/2011/09/comic-book-vs-film-watchmen.html

This guy does a film vs book breakdown. Essential his opinion boils down to: The book was excellent ‘ the Citizen Kane of Graphic novels’. But while the movie did a remarkable job at adapting and keeping the central themes alive it just could not reproduce the rich and deep background that book has to offer. I don’t know how the book can be a 5/5 and the movie can go all the way down to a 3.5/5. I guess if you are strictly comparing the two, the movie can be much worse but as a stand alone item I thought it deserved more credit.

Critical Argument

 

5. The graphic novel, although at a glance seems like just a story board for a movie, has qualities that make it stand alone as a story medium. One example is very obviously unfilmable, the intertexual self references like in the situation of the black freight in The Watchmen. But another huge example for the graphic novel is the idea of a readers pace. Some readers get hung up on huge plot twists, and in a graphic novel can hang on the one image and give it sufficient time to sink in. In the movies this process all goes at one pace, from one viewer to the next the experience can be much different in terms of satisfaction. The element of interaction is removed from the film and we are just force-fed all that the movie has to offer. So interaction with a comic book is the heart of its strength and is what makes it worthy of attention.

Blog Response 11: The Fantastic Mr Fox

Analyze the Book
1. Fantastic Mr Fox is a short novel written by Roald Dahl. Dahl is an unlikely child author to say the least, a military man who’s life was riddled with tragedy. The tone of Dahls stories typically lack a sentimental element normally expected of child novels. The illustrations play a large part in the bizarre styling of Fantastic Mr Fox. They are sort of crudely drawn and have a little bit of ugliness to them that matches the sort of ugliness found in the story. The adults in the story are not role models, they are the villains. The head farmers are driven by pride and money from their respective industry. Dahl’s approach seems to make the grown up world scary and mean in order to shape young children into growing up wanting to be better than these adults.

Analyze the Film
2.  Wes Anderson is a writer/director with an unmistakable style. Though this is his first venture into the stop motion style or child fiction movie, his style translates effortlessly.  The figures in the movie are hand crafted with an intentional awkwardness that gives the movie character. The stop motion was purposefully done choppy and poorly to add to the personality in the film. Wes Anderson emphasised certain elements of the story that are common in his movies, such as a dysfunctional family, an estranged father figure, and an adopted son type scenario (Ned Plimpton, Eli Cash from Life Aquatic and Royal Tenebaums).  The movie takes many liberties in extending and modifying the original book but only really embellishing on what is in the book itself.

Analyze the Adaptation
3. Wes Andersons choice to employ stop motion animation rather than CGI or traditional animation accomplishes the feat of maintaining the feeling of the novel as well as creating something that doesn’t just compete with the books illustrations. The Film extends the story beyond the end of the original book. From what I can tell the extended story was just in an effort to make the story arc more adaptable to the screen, but at the same time the story ends on a little bit of a different note. Mr. Fox in the book never has to man up and risk sacrificing himself and is ultimately the sole hero in the story. Sort of in-consequential. Apparently the story line of Fox going straight edge is added into the movie that provided a whole theme of resisting ones nature, ultimately though Fox still ends up a thieving fox so once again there isn’t much deviation from the book.

Research
4.

http://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2009/oct/26/wes-anderson-animation

this is actually really interesting. Apparently this movie had a tie-in deal with McDonalds? Where Fantastic Fox toys were included and happy meals and such. This is really surprising and seems to jeopardize Andersons credibility as an artist, I wont who made the decision.

http://collider.com/wes-anderson-interview-fantastic-mr-fox/

An interview with Wes Anderson about making the film. The pain of doing stop motion and the sort of quirky things that Wes Anderson researches and focuses on that make his film what they are.

http://andrewdaley.edublogs.org/2012/09/16/fantastic-mr-fox-reading-and-film-comparison/

This writer compares the novel and the film, he seems to prefer the book much more. He defends the imagery in the book as being much stronger and did not enjoy some of the added story lines the film had. Little things such as the accent of the Rat being like a cowboy were little changes that peeved him. On the whole he enjoyed the movie as well and praised it for its look. You can’t please everyone but it seemed like critics will find something to get upset about.

Critical Argument

5. A massive strength of this adaptation is the attention to detail in the stop motion style of animation. As well as representing the style of the illustrations in a new medium, the stop motion animation gives the world a life that is unique and intriguing. The jerky animations make it look as if the figures were being played with by a child, acting out the entire movie by hand. The sort of mechanical way the figures moved and talked played perfectly into the hands of Wes Andersons awkward pace style of comedy.  The deliberate stylings of each characters features as well as the sets they are placed on is meticulously crafted, as is most of Wes Andersons films. The man has developed a deliberate aesthetic is his most recent films, and this one is no exception.

Blog Response 10: Harry Potter – Prisoner

Analyze the Book
1. Harry Potter the book is typical child fiction. Those who have read it as a child have grown up with a place in their hearts for the book. A major part of the books appeal is its rich and creative world that it takes place in. I have never read the books but people tell me they are great. And Mr Byrne seems to love them too.  From what I can tell the major appeal is the emphasis on imagination and seems to have an agenda of promoting reading as an important part of a childrens upbringing as many of the spells are learned from books and or classes in general. Grown men like Harry Potter so it certainly has quality above the childlike fascination with magic and being the chosen one.

Analyze the Film
2.  Prisoner of Azkhaban was the first Harry Potter film to have a change in director. The first two films were directed by Chris Columbus, and were by all accounts lighter in tone and visuals. This film however being a stand alone movie was still very light hearted and child friendly as any other movie, although it did aim to frighten in certain parts. Many shots in the movie are filmed at night or in the fog of late day. The movie definitely keeps a high pace about it, perhaps with the knowledge that it is for excited children, from scene to scene there is an emphasis on movement and spontaneous events to keep with the rhythm of the movie.

Analyze the Adaptation
3. The Prisoner of Azkhaban took a tonal shift from the previous movies and perhaps from the books itself. What is most interesting about this is that the books were not yet finished, and since Rowling was so close and involved in the films, this representation of her work no doubt influenced the direction she took with her writing henceforth. Rowling had adopted a more cinematic friendly style of writing since the movies were created, allowing them to be easier adapted. Also the tone of Rowling has arguably shifted to match the slightly darker direction the films were taking.

Research
4.

http://bplusmovieblog.com/tag/harry-potter-and-the-prisoner-of-azkaban/

Takes Harry Potter on as a joke sees who is really a fan or who can’t take a joke.

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/movie-reviews/harry-potter-and-the-prisoner-of-azkaban

This is actually pretty interesting because it is a site that ranks movies on the age group that is appropriate to watch the film. This movie being darker than the previous. Some of the scary scenes might be too violent or intense for children under 10 apparently.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2004/05/28/harry_potter_and_the_prisoner_of_azkaban_2004_review.shtml

I felt like this was a good analysis generally from my point of view. I am one of the quote “Potter-sceptics” and this reviewer anticipated that this movie might not win me over (which it really didnt). But there are areas that anyone can appreciate like the sets which are ambitious and grand in scale, as well as the acting from some of the older members of the cast. I can agree with these assumptions.

Critical argument
5. The task of adapting a book while the series has yet to be finished is definitely an interesting one. The idea that the writer subconsciously or not might start writing with certain actors faces and mannerisms in mind is already going to effect her future work. This situation reminds me of how the Game of Thrones series is being made. With the author not finished we several major story lines, im sure his judgment may be skewed by fan favorite actors or certain plot lines that have deviated from the books in the show. He may even start to adopt directions for characters that were solely based of the show. Regardless of whether or not an author admits it, having seen their story put to screen will affect them mentally and cause changes in their writing, these Harry Potter movies may have changed the later part of the series for better or for worse.

Blog response 9: A Scanner Darkly

Analyze the book
1. A Scanner Darkly the novel, is a sci fi story set in a dystopian US where drugs have gotten out of hand and surveillance is as prevalent as ever. The novel in some ways deals with Phillip K Dicks actual experiences with drugs, some of the situations in the book are based off of time he spent in a drug house. So while this is partly a story of the destruction drug habits can wreak, it also is aimed at the  governmental handling of the drug problem itself. There is an aspect of conspiracy against its own citizens, where government organizations have agents push drugs to find bigger fish, when in actuality the supplier is already a recognized organization that gets no attention. A major part of the story is a reflection of the era America was entering during the writing of the book (late 1970s.) The dysfunction and mistrust of the government at the time led to the prevalent themes conspiracy at the governmental level.

Analyze the Film
2. Scanner Darkly was chosen to be a film that harnessed the rotoscoping technique to several effects. One was the effect of creating a shifting image of character appearance. A big theme in the movie is the duality of identity, Arcter is at once an agent and a drug addict. The image of every character never seems to stand still, Arcter loses his own identity as an agent while on the mission and as such his shifts in identity are matched by his shifts in appearance. This theme is also obviously accomplished explicitly by the scramble suit where Arcter is millions of people at once. Arcter is spying on himself, he is part of the investigation that ultimately finds him guilty. There is a statement about the humans working in the big machine of government or military that is ultimately aiding the organization that is bound to hurt them. On another level the rotoscoping technique also offers a purely mood based element to the film where the shifting image gives the feeling of a drug induced visual trip. The experience our protagonist is going through is visually portrayed for us since its hard to tell what is real and what is fake at times. The blur between trip and reality is well captured by the style of the film as well as the content.

Analyze the Adaptation
3. While A Scanner Darkly the film is one of the more faithful adaptations compared to works like Bladerunner, Minority Report, and Total Recall it still missed the mark on certain characteristic traits of a Phillip K. Dick novel. The film does well to keep Dick’s sardonic humor faithfully. Through the use of eccentric personalities such as Robert Downey Jr and Woody Harrelson, the funny is maintained with taste. The humor in Dick’s adaptations seems to be the first thing to go, so it is an accomplishment to incorporate it in the film. However one large theme from Dick’s writing that continued to be missed in this adaptation as in the others was his incorporation of religion into his stories. There is practically no reference to the religious themes Dick’s uses in the novel despite the title being a biblical reference in itself. Another element the adaptation is missing but is not entirely the fault of the film’s director/adaptors is the inner monologues that Arcter has during the book. A lot of trippy confused inner monologue is missed from when Arcter begins to slip deeper into drug abuse and his left and right brain wiring are crossing. This can be attributed to the nature of film and the difficulty it has depicting inner monologues.

Research
4.
http://www.empireonline.com/reviews/reviewcomplete.asp?FID=132320

Agrees that earlier Phillip K Dick adaptations just missed the mark in terms of capturing the essence of the novel. Praises the selection of Keanu, Robert, and Woody as actor choices for this movie since they are suited with talent and past history of drug abuse.

http://le0pard13.blogspot.com/2010/08/scanner-darkly-film-review.html

Interesting review, one guy writes the film review while his partner write the book review. He picked up on the themes of addiction and identity, but completely omitted any religious themes from the movie.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2012/dec/17/philip-k-dick-a-scanner-darkly

This is interesting since Phillip K Dick arguably leaves Arcters character in a moment of religious discovery and from interpretation this is a good thing, this writer is captivated by the fact that the movie ends with the lowest low possible. In that the main character slips into insanity and is never recovered. This highlights one of the main distinctions between the film and book were the film does not cover the religious experience at all and seems very miserable at the end.

Critical Argument

5. Scanner Darkly makes bold aggressive thematic statements against the surveillance state and the troublesome path humanity is taking. The film accomplishes delivering a mind shocking message that is somehow even more relevant today even though the book was written 30 years prior. The adaptation catches the book up to modern times with ease due to the prophetic nature of the book. The war on drugs had yet to become the phenomenon that it is today and this film does a great job exposing the type of misdirection and manipulation that is occurring in the present day. The spirit of the film was clearly rebellious as evidence by the appearance of radical radio personality Alex Jones in a scene where he is spouting conspiracy theories before he is abducted by a black van. By the end of the film I think the intention is for the viewer to feel mentally abused by devious scheme that the New Path corporation has implemented.

Treatment Paper

House of Leaves Film

1. Concept

House of Leaves will take the paranormal activity approach when concerning the one storyline of the movie where Navidson is filming his family’s move to his new house. The eerie changes to the house will be caught on hand cam footage so will have an unbelievable element. When investigating the houses suspicious behavior the audience will have little to confirm its supernatural elements until its too late and our main characters are in over their heads.
2. Characters

Will Navidson – Photographer, father. His marriage is losing its passion and he is difficult to tame. He wants to do daring and spontaneous things but his role as a father is weighing on his conscience.

Tom Navidson – A bit of a loser, the black sheep of the family. Outshined by Will but he is completely content or oblivious to the fact. All in all a good hearted person.

Karen Navidon – Wife of Will and former model. She loves her husband very much but is at a loss for ideas on how to save her marriage. She feels like an affair or threatening to leave will reign Will in to being a father or husband.

Holloway Roberts – Accomplished explorer. Comes to commandeer the expedition of Will’s house. A very proud man that can’t admit defeat, the very idea drives him crazy.

3. Themes – The House in the story is a supernatural place where once you get lost in it, the house exploits your fears and emotions. There are many metaphors to be drawn from how the house represents the uncertainty of human existence and how the fact that none of the great questions about human life can be answered, these are the scariest themes about humanity. Everyone in the audience can relate because the struggle is universal.

4. Locations –

The House itself is infinitely large, so the setting will mostly take place in and around the House, some of the interviews will be done in hotel rooms in New York or California (the actual location doesnt matter).

Then there will be a scene at the end with Johnny Truant at his destroyed apartment.
5. Action Scene –

The gun fight between Holloway and Will Navidson. When in the depths of the house Holloway and his crew get lost, Will goes in to save them with his friend Bill Reston, who happens to be handicapped and in a Wheel chair. When they arrive at one of the explorers dead body they find he has been wounded. Only at the moment the characters discover the would was a gun shot. Holloway is the only person in the house with the gun. Out of the dark a shot rings out and plinks the glass lamp Reston is holding up to the dead body, now it is pitch black and they are trapped in the maze with a gone-mad Holloway.
6. Dialogue Scene –

The conversation will periodic interviews that were done in the making of the documentary inside the film. Navidson films home videos the whole time, someone unnamed to the audience is piecing them together and filling in the gaps with interviews. A strong interview comes when Karen Navidson has to talk about an experience Will had with photographing plagued children in Africa where he couldn’t help them but just had to photograph them.

7. Pitch

House of Leaves already has a cult following. The eerie nature of the book makes it irresistable. The story is very much one that leaves you with more questions than answers. I plan to make it a movie that is impossible not to talk about when walking away from the film. As a stand alone film Navidson Record has the typical arc of any horror thriller, but the ending is where the maker of the documentary reveals himself as a young man named Johnny Truant and the integrity of the film comes into question because he has no tapes or film, he is just writing a screenplay. The film can end with his destroyed apartment that he has locked himself in a paranoid state of helplessness.

Blog Response 8: No Country

Analyze the Book

1. The book “No Country for Old Men” is a story revolved arounds the clash between the old and new generation. Through Anton Chigurh the personification of a new type of evil where there is no perceivable reason to his actions. But he does have a code and a process but old dogs like Ed Tom just dont understand it and never will. The message seems to be that there is an evil in the world today that does not play by the old rules. There is an element of fate played with throughout where Lewellyn stumbled upon this mess of a situation and damned himself to death at the hands of Anton. Anton has a strong belief that anyone who crosses paths with him has followed fate to their death, and the only possible out for them is another chance at a 50/50 coin toss where their life is decided by the fate of the coin.

 

Analyze the Film

2. The film is shot is the most choice of locations to capture the mood of the story. The flat barren bleak desert lands of south Texas give the feeling that there is no where to run and no where to hide from the killed Chigurh. Moss’ fate had been decided and there was nothing in between him and Anton. The acting of Javier Bardem was very clutch in completing the films purpose. Anton needed to be enigmatic and mysterious behind his eyes. Bardem does an impeccable job at creating a gloss of insanity in his expressions, so essential to the film since he pretty much personifies the evil in the story. The world is not ready for this man Chigurh, it may be easier to counter the killer if we could understand him but there is a code that only he understands and that is extremely scary.

Analyze the Adaptation

3. As in any book to film adaptation it is practically impossible to give insight into the minds of characters. The methods that are possible such as voice over can be very trashy and ineffective. The Coen brothers  instead create this tense silence where the viewer has to piece together what the characters are thinking at every juncture. For example there are long streches of film where Moss is in survival mode going place to place and it is had to understand his thought process until you see it unfold. At the same time we watch Anton carry out these brutal exectutions and cant seem to understand why hes i a cruel man, that is until we get to his monologues. From what I understand the main character monologues are much fewer and far between in the film, I think this means we are missing out in the movie but it also gives a chance for a different type of experience where we get to wonder in the  interim between monologues. Its very eerie when concerning Anton’s character.

Online Research on the film

4.

http://www.ericdsnider.com/blog/2008/01/07/no-country-for-old-men-bell-and-chigurh-and-the-motel-room/

This writer thinks that Chigurh was never in the hotel when Bell arrives at the end, but the image of him was just a manifestation of Bell’s paranoia, I dont agree at all. But its interesting.

http://anyeventuality.wordpress.com/2008/01/25/no-country-for-old-men/

Posits that Ed Tom had a choice of two doors at the end scene and chose the right one to save his life.

http://conprotantor.blogspot.com/2010/10/no-country-for-old-men.html

Focues on the conservative message in the film. I have to agree that maybe in the books the message was delivered with more of a heavy hand but I got the sense that there is a conservative scare element to this plot. In a world were values like manners and religion are being abandoned people grow perverse and violent. I thought it was interesting that the Coen brothers chose the beatles style haircut for Anton, perhaps there is some sort of messaage of the generation being perverted by things like the Beatles? Maybe that is reaching a little too much.

Critical Argument

5. Such a huge part of what I took away from this film is the statement it makes about the perverse and violent direction the world is heading. Its very much a dark movie that leaves the viewer with no consolation what so ever, just the lingering thought that there are men like Anton Chigurh out in the world. Its made clear that Ed Tom doesn’t know what to make of seemingly senseless acts of violence like the ones committed by Anton. As shown by Ed Toms conversation with the El Paso Texas sheriff, they believe that maybe it all this fall into perversion starts with the loss of manners from the younger generations, there is certainly an element of conservative thinking prevalent here. Godless children are running amuck in the new world we live in. Ive seem this sort of theme in “A Serious Man” from the coen brothers where the impression I got was that the characters were living their lives outside of what god expected of theme which lead to a terrible series of events that struck their lives, ultimately ending in an impending tornado signifying some sort of divine punishment. In No Country the punishment perhaps has arrived in the form of Anton Chigurh.

Blog Response 7: American Splendor

Analyze the Book

1. The American Splendor comics were written in direct contrast to the typical superhero comic books in the era of its conception. Harvey Pekar coopted the underground comic movement in making a comic book story about ‘adult’ things. Adult in the sense that there was thought provoking material that was difficult and emotional in a realistic way, contrary to how story book the typical super hero comic book plays out. Whether or not it was completely intentional American Splendor gives an honest and thorough commentary on working class neglected Americans in the rust belt region — As seen through the eyes of an obsessive compulsive writer. The art style compliments the gritty detail and ugly realities that Pekar covers in the comic. There is charm to be found in a cynics struggle for small victories in life and that might be a major attraction to the work.

Analyze the Movie

2.This film intentionally avoids being placed in a genre. While on the one hand it is a drama starring Paul Giomatti, on the other its a documentary and then an artistic coupling of the two. The actual Pekar as seen in the interviews is just as charaicatureesque as you would imagine if not more. Giomatti almost fails to exaggerate the type of character Pekar is. When parts of the film seem exaggerated or dramatized, the directors cut to real life interviews to reinforce the nature of the man in the biopic. The film plays out like a biography film but the whole thing has an arc, artfully crafted by the directors. There is a narrative seated in the life of Pekar on its own about a cynical man who very slowly and awkwardly warms up to certain parts of the world — like embracing optimism to overcome cancer, adopting his daughter and retiring with a group of co-workers/friends/family.

Analyze the Adaptation

3. From an adaptational point of view does well to keep the spirit of the rust belt brand of depression alive(?) in the film. The employment of actual footage of cleavland keeps, for the most part, the film from feeling too much like a glamourized version of the story. The use of actual comic book framing and artwork was done sparringly limiting the chaos of genre jumping but keeping the film tied together with the comic but keeping the film version its own thing. With the film being part documentary, the arc of the story was a little more optimistic in theme then the actual American Splendor. The directors use snippets of interviews and cover sections of Pekars life that piece together the story.

Online Research on the film

4.

http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/american-splendor-2003

Roger Ebert seems just very attached to the story of Pekar’s life and the people in it. The movie does a great job telling his story in an original way so he loved the movie.

http://filmconnoisseur.blogspot.com/2012/06/american-splendor-2003.html

The writer really feels like the film was meant for him and points out that this is sort of the appeal of the comics American Splendor since it was about an every man who was an artist on the inside.

http://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2011/nov/07/my-favourite-film-american-splendor

‘Harvey Pekar didnt do happy but he did funny and truth and so does this movie — beautifully’ This last line really resonated with me on how I felt about this movie. The truth of the movie wasn’t muddied by hacky feel good scenes but it was still successful in being charming in its own right. The movie ends in Pekars actual retirement party, a sort of misreble looking setting but some genuine touching interactions between the feel like friends and family of Pekar. The post modern approach to telling the story allowed for this.

Critical Argument

5. The Film definitely paints a different picture than the comics themselves do.  In a way there is reason to cry sellout since the story ends up softening up the perception of Harvey to a family man, mildly successful and happy guy. As much as Pekar fights the smiles in his interviews and real life footage the documentary is edited in such a way that the joy shines through. This really couldn’t be said for the comic that was heavy handed with the cynical and bleak outlook. The comic has redeeming qualities but it wasn’t a feel good read, and I can’t help but to get the feeling the Harvey Pekar was doing alright by the end of this film.

Blog Response 6: Adaptation

1. The Orchid Thief, is a story that might have had a difficult time being expanded into a book. The wording is very lofty and the focus drifts all over. The main characters of the book are said to be John LaRouche and the state of Florida, in that the state of Florida is described sparing no detail. The book is a story but its identity is creative non-fiction, as such the book relies heavily on the the narrative voice being an integral element that creates intrigue in the story. Most of the meat of a book like this comes through the colorful analogies and inner monologue of the narrator. The narrator can supplement with her imagination where perhaps the factual reality lacks.

2. Adaptation the film is satirical in its tone and themes. The whole film pokes fun at the reality that faces the actual screenwriter. Doing a book like the Orchid thief justice in film seems like an impossibility and writers are always presented with easy cop outs. The character of Donald Kaufman is a personification of this cheap avenue of screenwriting, and the random acceleration of the story arc with Susan Orleans affair/drug-use/homicide is a self referential submission Hollywood norms of a typical thriller film. The confusion between reality and fantasy is blurred in many ways in the film and it gives suspicion to the fantastical things that happen at the end of the film. Since the perspective is from the screenwriter of the actual film the view feels he is subject to his whims and whether or not he succumbs to typical Hollywood story arc for the sake of it is up for interpretation.

3. The Film comments on the impossibility of adaptation although the film does not do much in the pursuit of actually breaking the meta when it comes to film adaptations. The hilarious difficulty of adapting a book like The Orchid Thief is not followed by an attempt to do an adaptation justice, in fact the whole latter third of the movie seems like a joke that average viewers might not be in on. The plot gets accelerated so fast after the realm of the Orchid Thief’s time line has ended. In the span of 15 minutes we find out that Orleans is cheating on her husband, has a drug problem, and is willing to murder. All this seems like a hilarious inside joke since Charlie Kaufman in and out of the films world is struggling with completing the stories arc. It seems he may have contrived the whole ending to make a joke of the cop out most screenwriters deploy to a difficult and subtle story that lacks arc. So what we get is a very funny and meta ending but one that doesn’t propose to solve any problems.

4. http://nymag.com/nymetro/movies/reviews/n_8075/

Weighs the courage of the movie to be original rather than conform to business industry genericism.

http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-adaptation-2002

Roger Ebert appreciates the accurate portrayal of the adaptation process for a screenwriter.

http://blogs.uoregon.edu/eng110spring2014/2014/05/23/adaptation-a-film-review/

This blog post is interesting and it comments on the fact that the viewer seems to walk away from this movie wondering what he just watched. There is no explicit messaging or theme to the movie, the main ideas are subverted in the meta-fictional elements in the film. There is a bit of a bizarre sense that the movie is writing itself right in front of you. It is not told to the viewer that Charlie Kaufman is actively changing the movie you are watching but it seems that way upon reflection.

5. Adaptation as a film is an educated insight to the difficulties of adapting an enigmatic book into film. Some aspects of the film poke fun at itself for failing to break the meta of book to film adaptation. The majority of the first part of the film has Charlie Kaufman stressing himself over making a film true to the Orchid Theif book, and nothing is more important to him than avoiding cliche dues ex machinas or gimick storylines. By the end of the  film we are actually watching the writer seems to employ all these things. The acceleration of the storyline through Orleans affair,drug use, and murder plot is a satirical white flag from Charlie Kuafman. There was no other percievable way to please the audience of a Hollywood film than to submit to these types of norms. An insight to the difficulties a screenwriter has in these situations and the devices they use to avoid disappointing everyone.

Blog Response 5: The Hours

Analyze the Book

1. The Hours is a book comprised of three main story lines: 1920’s Virginia Woolf, a 1950s housewife Laura Brown, and 1980s Clarissa Vaughn. The three storylines weave in and out of each other but create a similar arc of main characters growing alienated and lonely over time, desperately quietly suffering. Stream on consciousness is used to capture the wandering minds of the increasingly introspective characters in the novel, giving you insight to their thoughts and pains. While the stories mingle and ultimately converge in way, the abstraction is kept to a minimum since a common theme is spun in each one of the characters lives.

Analyze the Movie

2. As the three leading ladies: Juliane Moore, Meryl Streep, and Nicole Kidman volley screen time between each other throughout the film. There is no lack of talent in portraying the roles of three depressed main characters. The film really tackles human condition and the quiet submission some people accept in their life path. According to this film there isn’t much to live for if life is not exhilarating or passionate, and the truth is  some humans continue to persist just for a friends sake. Most of the characters delay their suicide for the sake of their loved ones around them, they lose the will to eat or sleep or socialize, but their loved ones motivate and insist them to mush on.

Analyze the Adaptation

3. The Film actually seems to adapt very well from the book. According to Cunningham his style of writing is very cinematic; in that he writes story with scenes in mind. While this part seems to be true and came across faithfully in the film, the levels of inner monologue must have been very difficult to adapt. Save the occasional voice over, there is no way to do justice to the deep inner thoughts of a main character in a novel when adapting to film. What is done in effort to supplement this fact is very subtle acting and intention based filming. Close ups on jerky stressed hand motions to simulate suppressed frustration, long dry spells of silence with little to no break from facial expression to bring across the feeling of melancholy. So where the film is forced to omit 90% of the inner monologues it does in its own way show the emotion rather than tell.

Online Research on the film

4.

http://feelthefilms.wordpress.com/2013/12/11/motifs-of-feminism-analytical-essay-of-the-hours/

Makes arguments for the feminist themes in the film and the use of motif to interconnect the three leading ladies lives.

http://blog.timesunion.com/movies/nicole-kidman-in-the-hours/13399/

This guy really likes Nicole Kidmans big nose in this movie.

http://www.entertainyourbrain.com/hoursrev.htm

This critic definitely did not enjoy the very thick layer of sadness on this film. Claims the suicidal acts were irrational, I think this just highlights that Woolf’s style to which Cunningham is paying homage is just one that may not resonate with everyone. There needs to be a level of empathy here since some people’s brain chemistry will just not allow them to take small victories out of every day. A melancholy life throws them into deep depression. Maybe the message does not come across to the mainstream so easily.

Critical Argument

5. Based purely on the merits of acting and direction alone, The Hours does a justice to the source text it was based on that could only be realized in film. subtleties in facial expression body language and tone speak a whole paragraphs worth of emotion. The breakdown scene by scene of a character can tell you there condition and story. The introduction of the character Richard needed no elaboration, an introverted man living on the top floor of some armpit apartment with little to no regard of his appearance, gaunt and withered. He has not the capability of being trusted to eat on his own, he rejects award on the account of his sickness. This is a man with not much keeping him attached to the living realm. All the detail in the character can be availed by the scene of his introduction, and through scene construction like this Daldry tells stories on film that might not have been conceivably possible.