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leamirella's picture

"It's not my story. It's my responsibility to Susan". -- Charlie

When I picked Adaptation up from the library, I knew that it was going to provoke a lot of rich discussion. Why? Because in a class where we've talked about the originality and authenticity of a text, it seemed really exciting when I saw Spike Jonze AND Charlie Kaufman as the filmmaker and the scriptwriter respectively. Watching the film, I started to see very purposeful and really, REALLY self-aware moments that seemed contradictory to the quote that I started this post with. 

Charlie attempts to stay true to Orlean but comes across so many personal barriers to meeting with her and finding out the truth. And this parallels the barriers to staying true to the book when you have so many huge personalities working on the same production. Is the final product "true" to Orlean? I'd say no. I'd actually argue that it fits in more with Spike Jonze's work as a director and with Charlie Kaufman (the "physical" one that isn't portrayed by Nicolas Cage!) as a screenwriter. 

Inevitably, it seems that there is no way of completely translating the book to a movie that stays true to the "original" writer. As Donald aptly puts it "We have to realize that we write in a genre. We have to find creativity in our genre." 


EGrumer's picture


I find Adaptation to be a fascinating film, and one of the main reasons why is probably the questions of accuracy. It's a movie about someone earnestly trying to make The Orchid Thief into an accurate movie, and as such it is one of the least faithful literary adaptations I've ever known. I'd agree that it's true to the quirky style of Jonze and Kaufman. Personally, I don't think the film tries at all to be faithful to The Orchid Thief, for all that its protagonist struggles to make his screenplay so. I wonder how the screenplay for Adaptation itself came to be. Maybe adapting the book just seemed too hard? Not interesting enough? Or maybe that simply wasn't the film that Jonze and Kaufman wanted to make? Really, I feel as if Adaptation is less about Orlean and Laroche than it is about the difficulty of adapting books to film and about the relationship between the Kaufman brothers (one of whom is entirely fictitious).