Hello & Welcome
The Film Version is home to a collection of long reads and quick picture posts about film adaptation and cinematic storytelling. It’s brought to you by Natalie Stendall, a freelance writer investigating the different ways authors and filmmakers tell their stories.
What do digital technologies and global audiences mean for film adaptation? And what devices can filmmakers use to translate literary stories into cinematic ones? This series explores the most pressing questions in adaptation today, from A-Z.
Often storytellers make deliberate connections. Sometimes we make our own. We’re reminded of themes, messages and ideas explored elsewhere, in other stories, in other art forms. Taken together these stories can communicate something bigger.
If you’re short on time, start with these quick reads. Through images and quotations, each of these posts explores a different film adaptation and the devices it uses to transform its literary source material for the big screen.
What does adaptation mean in the 21st Century? Does fidelity matter? And why are filmmakers so eager to transform existing stories for the big screen?
The adaptation process is packed with irresistible questions.
I’m a freelancer based in the Midlands, UK, and I’ve been writing about cinema and film adaptations for almost ten years. My work has recently appeared in Little White Lies, Hyperallergic and Bright Wall/Dark Room.
An interest in how story works underpins much of my writing. I enjoy exploring the mechanics of story – the devices used to convey characters, themes and ideas – and how (and why) these differ across artistic mediums. Read on to discover some of the guiding ideas behind The Film Version and links to my recent features.
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Innovation is an adaptation’s biggest asset
“An adaptation is not vampiric: it does not draw the life-blood from its source and leave it dying or dead, nor paler than the adapted work.”LINDA HUTCHEON
Film adaptations often get a bad rap. We’re protective of the art works that matter most to us and we defend them fiercely. But I believe the most crucial ingredient in film adaptation is not fidelity to the source. Instead, it’s the filmmakers’ willingness to take risks. Often the artistic commitment and creative vision of the adapters can reveal something in the original that we didn’t see before.
On Franchise Adaptations
What is transmedia storytelling? And how do mainstream studios use it to build epic franchise worlds?
The Sisters Brothers & The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs
Home comforts and guilty consciences tie these films (and their source material) together in perfect partnership.
On Richard Stanley’s Color Out of Space
How does Richard Stanley capture the strange sensuality of H.P. Lovecraft’s novella?
Change keeps audiences coming back for more
“The experience of visualising something as a result of reading a description of it is altogether different from seeing it in the form of an actual picture”JONATHAN MILLER
It’s the awkward position that adaptions occupy in our artistic landscape – being both dependent and independent from their sources – that makes them so fascinating to us. Time and again, it’s the differences that we’re drawn to. It’s the differences that we debate and quarrel about. And it’s the differences that keep us curious.
On the lure of lighthouses
From Edgar Allen poe’s unfinished final story, to Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island and Robert Egger’s The Lighthouse, these remote structures are soaked in mystery and symbolic meaning. I explore our fascination with theses strange buildings for Little White Lies.
surrendering the past
Home comforts and guilty Cynical “hot takes” about historical accuracy often miss something vital about cinematic storytelling: that it works by creating patterns and rhythm, and by adhering to familiar story shapes. I explore the value of artistic licence in historical adaptations for Bright Wall/Dark Room.
An Interview with Natalie
I’ve been interviewed by the wonderful screenwriter and storyteller Sarah Thomas. Find out more about my writing journey, why adaptation is a more significant landscape than most people realise and what’s my favourite film adaptation of the year so far.
Adaptations are intricate and ever more prolific
“The history of the relationship between film and literature is a history of ambivalence, confrontation and mutual dependence. From the late 19th century to the present, these two ways of seeing and describing the world have at different times despised each other, redeemed each other, learned from each other, and distorted each other’s self-proclaimed integrity.”TIMOTHY CORRIGAN
The relationship between film and the novel is more diverse than we expect. Every day filmmakers take their inspiration from literature and vice versa. Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel is inspired by the collected writings of Stefan Zweig; and the Coens’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is seeped in intertextual references from the poetry of Shelley to their own True Grit. In our global, digital age the concept of adaptation is becoming increasingly relevant as it fuels and underpins the franchise industry.
Ready to join me on a journey through film adaptation?
I hope that you enjoy your time here at The Film Version. I’m excited to share this journey with you and I look forward to meeting you in the comments!
Find out more about Natalie’s writing journey and the origins of The Film Version.
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