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The Most Unfilmable Novels


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#1 (unregistered)

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Posted 17 March 2007 - 11:14 PM

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#2 Plot Device

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Posted 18 March 2007 - 06:27 AM

I clicked into that link with two books in mind. Both proved already on the list:

Metamorphosis

Confederacy of Dunces



And after reading through. Catcher in the Rye jumped out at me. All three of these books entail deeply complex internal monologues which make up the heart of the tale. Makes me think of the Charlie Kaufman film Adaptation. So maybe Charlie could write the scrip for the funnier of these selections (such as CoD).

And then there's the film Memento, also heavilly dependent upon internal monologues. Christopher Nolan did that one, so maybe he could do CitR.

#3 yank_eh

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 01:50 AM

QUOTE(Plot Device @ Mar 18 2007, 03:27 AM) View Post
Confederacy of Dunces[/i]


They actually started on this. Check it out here for a nice little article or here for a fairly extensive cast list, which includes Will Ferrell as Ignatius and some other notables. As the first article indicates, there is hope that it may be revived.

And I'm curious why you think it would be a difficult film adaptation. Will you elaborate? I think it would get some pretty big laughs as a film.


#4 Plot Device

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Posted 23 March 2007 - 02:23 PM

QUOTE(yank_eh @ Mar 19 2007, 01:50 AM) View Post
QUOTE(Plot Device @ Mar 18 2007, 03:27 AM) View Post
Confederacy of Dunces[/i]


They actually started on this. Check it out here for a nice little article or here for a fairly extensive cast list, which includes Will Ferrell as Ignatius and some other notables. As the first article indicates, there is hope that it may be revived.

And I'm curious why you think it would be a difficult film adaptation. Will you elaborate? I think it would get some pretty big laughs as a film.



This is good news. And I love Will Ferrell.

The book is about Ignatious' self-delusions. I'm hard-pressed to imagine the true gist of the story making it to the screen without being somehow watered down or contaminated.

#5 BethR

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Posted 24 March 2007 - 06:16 PM

Dorothy Dunnett's LYMOND CHRONICLES.

Several full-bore, BBC/Masterpiece Theater-style mini-series might begin to do them justice, but none of the fans would be completely satisfied with any actor who ended up being cast as Francis Crawford of Lymond, so there's just no point. Plus, there are all those exotic 16th c. locations--Scotland, England, France, Turkey, Russia, North Africa, Malta, Italy--the costumes and sets would be quite expensive.

Regarding A Confederacy of Dunces, I don't care if it's never filmed. IMO, it's the most overrated book ever published, but I've already made my opinion known in another thread.

Edited by BethR, 24 March 2007 - 06:23 PM.


#6 Darryl A. Armstrong

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Posted 24 March 2007 - 08:49 PM

Let's see... Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, Naked Lunch -- oh wait! Nevermind.

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#7 Andy Whitman

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Posted 24 March 2007 - 08:58 PM

Nausea -- Jean Paul Sartre
Infinite Jest -- David Foster Wallace
The Dead Father -- Donald Barthelme
The Sound and the Fury -- William Faulkner
Look Homeward, Angel -- Thomas Wolfe

#8 Jeff Kolb

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Posted 25 March 2007 - 12:23 AM

Ruthie suggests: Bulgokov's The Master and Margarita, if for no other reason than Margarita's constant nudity. And the inevitably cheesy special effects.

Along the lines of Faulkner, the plot of As I Lay Dying would be trivial to film, but it would be terribly difficult to capture the story on film. Too much of the effect of the book comes directly from the choice and arrangement of the words.

Edited by Jeff Kolb, 25 March 2007 - 12:27 AM.


#9 BethR

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Posted 25 March 2007 - 04:42 PM

QUOTE(Jeff Kolb @ Mar 25 2007, 01:23 AM) View Post
Along the lines of Faulkner, the plot of As I Lay Dying would be trivial to film, but it would be terribly difficult to capture the story on film. Too much of the effect of the book comes directly from the choice and arrangement of the words.

Similarly, Andy mentioned Wolfe's Look Homeward, Angel--there is a stage version by Ketti Frings (link to a recent production), which I've seen performed twice, but it really just reduces the novel to it's main plot points and loses the grand (or grandiose--YMMV) sweep of Wolfe's prose and the the protagonist's bittersweet POV.

Edited by BethR, 26 March 2007 - 02:11 PM.


#10 Jason Panella

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Posted 26 March 2007 - 08:20 AM

Marilynne Robinson's Gilead strikes me as a similiar book, if only because so much of what happens doesn't seem to translate well to the page. Having a voice-over the entire film would be tacky, at the least.

I'd also say the Screwtape Letters is one, but...too late for that.

#11 Tyler

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 12:25 PM

Let's see... Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, Naked Lunch -- oh wait! Nevermind.

Posted Image


Both of which made the AV Club's list on this topic.

#12 John Drew

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 10:41 PM


Let's see... Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, Naked Lunch -- oh wait! Nevermind.

Posted Image


Both of which made the AV Club's list on this topic.


In a way, I'm surprised that Adaptation didn't get a mention here. Not to say that something else couldn't be made out of Susan Orleans' The Orchid Thief, but I'm sure it wouldn't be as fun.

#13 Jason Panella

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 10:38 AM

And here is the AV Club's follow-up list on "unfilmable" movie adaptations that didn't work.

#14 Greg P

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 04:29 PM

And here is the AV Club's follow-up list on "unfilmable" movie adaptations that didn't work.

I'm in full agreement about "From Hell" and it was funny to see it on their list, because I was discussing the butchery involved in that adaptation, with a coworker yesterday.

Also involved in that same discussion was the prospect of the upcoming World War Z, which I believe is an unfilmable novel if ever there was one.

#15 Jason Panella

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 09:50 PM

Also involved in that same discussion was the prospect of the upcoming World War Z, which I believe is an unfilmable novel if ever there was one.


Last time I checked, they were planning on moving in a completely different direction of the book. I'm not surprised.

#16 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 08:02 PM

I'm just hoping Neil Gaiman’s American Gods isn't unfilmable what with Gaiman as one of the screenwriters and all.

#17 NBooth

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 03:45 PM

Flavorwire: 10 "Unfilmable" Books that made it to the Big Screen

#18 du Garbandier

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 06:25 PM

What about B. S. Johnson's The Unfortunates, a novel published as loose sheets in a box, with the middle 25 chapters readable in any order the reader pleased? (Reprinted not long ago, incidentally.) I suppose some clever filmmaker could do something vaguely analogous on the web, or with DVDs. But not in theaters, surely...surely?

Edited by du Garbandier, 27 October 2012 - 06:44 PM.