Books vs Movies are the eternal debate. Many can’t help but compare them. Personally, I don’t see why one has to be better than the other. They can be treated as two different things. Adaptations of books are very common in Hollywood. Some are very loose (like There Will Be Blood, lifted vaguely from Oil! by Upton Sinclair) and some are almost word for word (like No Country For Old Men, from the book by Cormac McCarthy). Here are three I’d love to see made in to movies.
3. The Catcher In The Rye – J.D. Salinger
Salinger long resisted offers to make his famous novel in to a feature film. Now with his recent passing, it looks like that will never happen. It’s probably for the best, as any film is likely to fall well short of people’s high expectations. The novel, about an embittered young man who seems to hate the world around him, has such a cult following that any translation would be difficult. However, I’d be curious to see how it would be interpreted. I would like to see it done as sort of a low budget independent film. A stylish director like Paul Thomas Anderson would be great for this film. I thik the role of Holden should go to an unknown actor, as that way no one will expect a formulaic performance. Perhaps you could litter a few known faces as the supporting characters, like Brian Cox as Mr. Anolini, Holden’s English teacher. This book is so open to interpretation, that it would be interesting to see how they choose to do it, and how to handle the ambiguous ending.
2. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
This film was made in to an extremely poor adaptation by Francois Truffaut in 1966. I remember seeing it in school and being extremely unimpressed. Since then many rumors and failed starts have stalled a better version of the film. Bradbury’s book, set in a future where most books are illegal and firemen serve the purpose of burning them rather than putting out fires. One firemen, Guy Montag, is becoming frustrated with the way of the world. He begins to read, and becomes embroiled in drama and challenges that that entails. It’s a great story, and an excellent allegory for today’s world. I think a director who can handle a budget but also tell a great story would be perfect for this. I like Martin Scorcese, and along with him one of his regular stars in Leonardo DiCaprio. DiCaprio has become a stellar actor, and can convey the internal struggle that Montag has. Supporting cast could include Max Von Sydow as Faber, Montags mentor in favor of books. Kate Winslet would serve well as Clarisse, the liberal minded woman who inspires Montag. Christain Bale would be great as Chief Beatty, who despites books. This could be an excellent film.
1. Next – Michael Crighton
There is a movie named Next, but its not based off this stellar Michael Crighton book about genetic engineering that’s grounded in much more reality than his famous Jurassic Park. The story is a complex one, centering on a a company called BioGen that is at the center of a legal scandal, a hostile takeover, and many human interest stories, including a cancer survivor who is in a legal battle over the rights to his cells and those of his family, the creation of a ‘maturity’ gene that makes people more responsible, and a half human-half ape child that was born from a research putting human genes in an ape. It’s a great story in today’s world of genetic research, legal battles, and government involvement. I’m sort of stunned it’s not a movie yet.
Such a project would have to be undertaken by a director who can work with ensemble casts and multiple story arcs. Someone like Oliver Stone would be too one sided. I’d be more interested in a fresh take from someone like Peter Jackson. Casting this movie would be interesting. I like Clive Owen as troubled BioGen founder Rick Diehl, who is battling a bitter divorce using genetic testing. Jack Watson, the powerful and corrupt investor, should be played by Terrance Stamp. Someone tame like Mark Ruffalo as cancer survivor Frank Burnet. I like funny man Jim Carrey in a surprise choice as ‘Maturity’ gene inventor Josh, and Jeff Goldblum as Ape researcher Henry Kendell.