Thursday, August 16, 2007

Adapting from books: "The Pianist"

A great story is a great story, and will almost inevitably make its way to the screen. British scriptwriter Ronald Harwood made a magnificent job of writing the script for "The Pianist". As he explained in The Guardian, this was no accident. He had already covered war issues and totalitarian regimes (including his native South Africa), before being called by Roman Polanski to adapt the book. He maintains his closeness to the subject was important.

Harwood has now contributed to a book about adapting novels to the screen, "Ronald Harwood's Adaptations: From Other Works into Films: From Other Media into Films". He goes into "mouth-watering detail" (as one reviewer said) about what adaptations actually involve.

His article in The Guardian is already a treat, if a little unflattering for scriptwriters: "What conclusions, if any, are to be drawn from my experience in the movies? Certainly, I have learned that the screenwriter's relationship with the director is at the very heart of film-making, but the cult of the film director is now so pervasive that the screenwriter is mostly consigned to oblivion. If a critic admires the film the screenplay is ignored; if he finds fault, the screenplay comes in for a mauling. Thus, the screenwriter must learn that he is not an equal partner; indeed he is somewhat subservient."

For the full article, visit The Guardian.

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