Brought to book.
Ever heard of a book called Wiseguys by Nicholas Pileggi? How about Barry Hines’ A Kestrel for a Knave? Roderick Thorp’s Nothing Lasts Forever? Ever heard of Goodfellas, Kes or Die Hard? Three well known films that took their inspiration from books. It is astonishing how many movies are based on books, from long lasting series like James Bond, to modern favourites like Harry Potter, include graphic novels and comic strips and we add everyone from Batman to Garfield. Some work brilliantly, such as 2012’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, others fail to capture the magic of the source novel, this years’ The Dark Tower has received a critical mauling and bombed at the box office, despite being a favourite of many from Stephen King’s back catalogue. What makes a successful adaptation? Some remain faithful to the book, others just use it as a basic template and go from there, such as Pitch Perfect, which was actually based on a non-fiction book about a cappella college groups in the US. The Film Society start our new season with My Cousin Rachel, an adaptation of the Daphne Du Maurier classic. Set in Florence and Cornwall, the film follows Sam Claflin’s character, Philip, as he becomes infatuated with his older cousin’s widow, played by Rachel Weisz, her performance has been highly praised as capturing the essence of the book’s main character. Perhaps this is what defines a good adaptation, the film somehow possessing the central thread of the book, even if it diverges widly elsewhere. Joseph Conrad’s book A Heart of Darkness was set in the Congo in the 1880s, it was the inspiration for the film Apocalypse Now, set in the Vietnam War, two very different eras and locations, but the theme of Conrad’s book, a person sinking into madness, runs through both.
Our new season also ends with a film based on a novel , The Limehouse Golem, which looks faithful to the book. Come and see one, or both, and let us know what you think.
My Cousin Rachel screens on Jan 16th at Kinokulture Cinema. Pitch Perfect 3 is on general release.
By Michael Hudson
From our weekly column in the Oswestry Advertizer, published on 9th January 2018.