April 11, 2010

Are certain books "movie-proof"?

Cinematical had an article on this very subject, which got me thinking. First, here's the article:

For as long as Hollywood has been adapting books for the screen there have been works that have earned the title: unfilmable. Usually, the list of 'cursed' books includes Ulysses, The Confederacy of Dunces, Gravity's Rainbow, Neuromancer, and Catcher in The Rye. The medium of literature allows for a level of detail and time and space that most films can never match, and sometimes a book is just too sweeping, too complicated, or just too darn long to make into a movie. Granted, there have been some exceptions, but sometimes I think there are stories that are better when they're left on the bookshelf. As I was perusing the news, I noticed that Chuck Palahniuk's novel Invisible Monsters was back on the movie radar. Now if ever there was a book that I believed was not cut out for the big screen, it's Monsters.

Relative unknown Cameron MacLaren would not be the first person to try to adapt Palahniuk's novel, and the property has been kicking around in one form or another since Jesse Peyronel optioned it back in 2001. Monsters is one of Palahniuk's finest (and most hilariously disturbing) books, but I'm not sure any director could get audiences to look past **spoiler alert** the story of a woman with the lower half of her face missing. But maybe I'm just not thinking this through. These properties must hover on the radar for a reason, and there are always filmmakers who love a challenge and want to bring these stories to the screen.
After all, a story like Clockwork Orange must have seemed impossible to adapt into a film, but as soon as Stanley Kubrick was on the case -- presto! You have one of the greatest films of all time. So just imagine what the right director could do for Monsters. But what about those other movie-proof books? Well, how about Wes Anderson directing Catcher in The Rye (assuming Hollywood could ever wrangle away the rights) or Darren Aronofsky at the helm for Neuromancer? Tell me those don't sound like some pretty cool flicks.

This might be the optimist in me talking, but I'm not convinced there is such a thing as a book that is movie-proof. Even though the thought of screwing up a story that means so much to so many must be a little intimidating, when it comes to books that have earned the title of 'unfilmable', maybe it's just a matter of finding the right person for the job.

So what do you think: is there such a thing as a book that is 'movie-proof'?

-I'm inclined to say that the right filmmaker can turn anything into a good movie, but that's just me...thoughts?


  1. In terms of Invisible Monsters, I could definitely see it being made into a good film...it's just wouldn't be easy.

  2. Also, forgive me for not posting this earlier. I had planned to put it up before, but got caught up in a few different writing projects...but better late than never, right?

  3. Interesting article, and something that Hollywood has been struggling with for quite some time.

    I'm more of your opinion, Joey, especially since "No Country for Old Men" was at first considered an unfilmable novel -- until the Coens came along...

  4. Agreed. I believe in giving everything a chance. The right perspective, combined with today's technology and resources, makes just about anything potentially filmmable...

  5. wes anderson directing catcher makes me cringe like crazy

    1984 is near unfilmable- but if it was done right-holy shit would it be good

  6. Agreed about Wes Anderson and Catcher...

  7. That being said, I could certainly see someone making a great movie out of 1984.

  8. For 1984:

    Off the top of my head...Frank Darabont, Neill Blomkamp, David Cronenberg, Darren Aronofsky, David Fincher, or Terry Gilliam.

    For Catcher:

    Cameron Crowe, Jason Reitman, Todd Field, David Gordon Green, Noah Baumbach, or Ed Burns.

    Just ideas...

  9. i thought fincher for 1984 to, darabont would be a great choicemto

  10. christopher nolan could be an interesting choice for 1984 to

  11. @ Casey: Wait a minute, Nineteen Eighty-Four was already made into a film...twice! One was an okay adaptation released in 1956 and the other was a damn fine film released in, erm, 1984, which also featured Richard Burton's final performance.

  12. My only assumption is he isn't a fan and is looking for a strong final attempt.