Monkeying with Literature

     If I were going to take a book or play and make a movie, there would be many things I would have consider. I cannot just "monkey around" with the work already written. The chosen piece I would adapt would be just that, "adapt." I would try to see the whole "picture," but in the long run it is my interpretation of the story. The story would have to be entertaining and as close as possible to the way others may have interpret the story line too.

     If one does not choose the right actor, or actress, for the part to be played it can throw off a story line. An example would be if a blond, 300-pound ugly man would play the part of Heathcliff, instead of Laurence Olivier, who portrayed him in William Wyler's 1939 film version of Wuthering Heights, written in 1847 by Emily Brontė. This would be a curve from the written story description. As dark and attractive, Heathcliff is a man that draws the reader into his romance with Catherine. The fat, blond actor would change the whole look of the story line as would a change to scenery and clothes. A good director may get the same love/hate story line, but it would not be the Emily Brontė story of Wuthering Heights.

     One can look to plays and books that are already adapted into film. The 1954 film Los Abismos de Pasion, directed by Luis Buńuel, can show how the story is totally changed by the directors. He chose a different environment, Mexican, and different clothes from a Mexican culture. He tried to stay to the basics of Emily Brontė's Wuthering Heights but failed. The 1951 film A Streetcar Named Desire came closest to becoming an effective adaptation into film of a play. The director Elia Kazan stays with the place, and descriptions the playwright Tennessee Williams wrote in 1947. Kazan only made one major change in the end of the story; Stella (Kim Hunter) leaves Stanley (Marlon Brando), which is his prerogative.

     However, Kazan made the change of Stella leaving due more to pressure of others than his own choice. Stella's staying with a man who had raped her sister (Vivien Leigh) was not something they wanted people to see. At the time this play was written, and filmed, films were to help show society what was wrong, or how to change what was wrong. In a more updated version the people would not be so worried about the negative look of her staying.

     Books and plays help show history and thoughts of people who write them. When a book is adapted to a film, people should be careful with the way they "monkey" with their adapting for they may lose the author who has became a part of that book.

Tammy Wheeler

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