Monday, March 19


2012 is a really big year for book-to-movie adaptations. The Hunger Games and The Hobbit are probably the most anticipated, but there's also Baz Luhrmann's take on The Great Gatsby (undoubtedly going to be awful, and yet I can't help but to be excited!), The Life of Pi, and Great Expectations.
As lame as it is that nobody in Hollywood has the time or patience to come up with anything new anymore, I'm all about a good book-to-film adaptation. After finishing a book, I often think about how it would work on film. Here are my ideas (feel free to steal them, suit-wearing movie producer guys!), but I know I'm not the only one who thinks about this stuff. What books are you dying to see made into movies?

Winner of the 1947 Newbery Medal, Miss Hickory is a story about a little doll made of an applewood twig and a hickory nut. She is spoiled by the little girl who owns her for many years until the little girl forgets her one fall and Miss Hickory is forced to spend her winter alone and without comfort in the wilderness. She quarrels with squirrels, hangs out with hen-pheasants and groundhogs and is generally kind of an uppity sass to everyone she meets. In the end she adapts to her new lifestyle and finds joy in the wilderness.
In my head the film is stop motion animated (think Coraline or The Corpse Bride). There are so many amazing little bits about clothes (she sews them out of leaves and things she finds! So cute.) and the scenery (hills, sunrises, sun sets, stars, barns, orchards, etc.) in the book that would translate perfectly into a finely detailed miniature set.
Once the script and storyboards are hammered out, they send copies to Neko Case and cross their fingers for a concept album/original soundtrack. Her songwriting skills, voice and musical style are perfect for the tale of a little nut-headed lady wearing a leaf suit trying to make it through winter.

(Spoilers ahead!) After finishing this George Orwell depress-a-thon, I had a lot of feelings, and I still do, so clearly it's a perfect book for someone like David Fincher to adapt to screen.
The book follows sad, ugly, (but intelligent, kind of progressive and sensitive, too) English Flory who's been living in Burma for 20 years. All he does is drink and have sex with Burman prostitutes until Elizabeth, a young English woman, arrives for a visit with her aunt and uncle. Flory is reinvigorated by his dreams of marrying Elizabeth and ending his loneliness. A bunch of stuff happens involving politics, race, Empire, and society, and then at the end of the book Flory shoots his dog and then himself. Elizabeth, who turns out to be a totally heinous, vapid bitch, marries a different Englishman and lives out her days in Burma, beating her servants and having a grand time.
Naturally Flory will be played by Edward Norton, and Elizabeth can be played by Amanda Seyfried or some other sweet-looking blond who can turn on the Bitch Switch. The movie will be gorgeous, but grossly so: oppressively hot, sticky jungles, Southeast Asian architecture desperately trying to be English, safari hats, cocktails, cocktails everywhere! The beginning of the film will be blindly bright, but by the end, when the monsoons hit, dark and wet and hideous. It will be ugly and beautiful at once, and everyone who sees it will feel bad about doing so. I mean, a dog dies. If that's not already an Oscar winner, I don't know what is.

Apparently James Franco is working on or talking about working on an adaptation of this William Faulkner novel. I guess he has a PhD and is handsome, but I'm not sure that's enough to make this novel into a movie. First of all, it's a Coen brothers film, it has to be, and secondly, who the hell would Franco play anyway? You know he can't write an adaptation of this book without starring in it, and neither Darl nor Jewel (he'd probably pick Jewel, duh. You're soooo perfect, James Franco. YOU'RE SO PERFECT.) are especially Franco-esque.
Anyway, As I Lay Dying is the story of the poor, Southern Bundren family's inner thoughts and secrets as they haul the corpse of their recently deceased matriarch to a neighboring town to be buried. Each chapter is narrated by a different member of the family and sometimes friends and neighbors and even their dead mother.
The whole book is inner-monologue and flashbacks, so lots of close ups of sweaty, dirty, pensive faces. I like to think of the movie filmed entirely in sepia tone, but I'd settle for color so long as they're able to capture the absolute ugliness of an overcast day in the rural south. Whichever little kid plays Vardaman Bundren will either be nominated for Best Supporting Actor and hailed as a break out star, or everyone will quickly grow to hate him and the best he'll ever do is star next to Willow Smith in a children's sports movie.

(Spoilers ahead!) I read this book for the second time a couple months ago and wrote briefly about what a wonderful movie it would make, and ever since then I've been going over the details in my mind of how it should look. First, it has to be animated, either a la Makoto Shinkai (who does really subtle, beautiful films. I highly recommend you watch the short She and Her Cat) or Studio Ghibli.
Picture Merrycat in her field of tall grass, staring toward the house while her cat, Jonas, jumps at, catches, then eats a butterfly. She walks through the field, counting each step, and stops to check her long-buried treasures. Lots of long shots of the little forests around the house, Constance's garden, uncle Julian in his wheelchair sleeping over a little plate of toast, the ugly, dirty village where Merricat shops once a week, and the immaculately scrubbed and shining rooms of the Blackwood home.
The music will be entirely soft, simple little piano pieces, but I can imagine really soothing ambient, too. Say, something like this while Merricat goes through her rituals and spells each day, or something like this during the scene where Merricat sleeps in the woods the night cousin Charles arrives, and then again just at the end when the sun goes down on the crumbling, charred Blackwood house and we see the little eyes of Constance and Merricat peering out between the vines.

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