Whenever a book is adapted for the screen, there’s often the unfair comparison between the two works. And it is unfair since these are two separate mediums. The screenwriter cannot tell the whole story encompassed in the book, instead has to gleam the most compelling points and at times condense some into an added scene. Even in adaptations of non-fiction work, often there are fictitious elements created to move the story along and nail down a particular theme or plot development. With that in mind, I strive to never hold a film adaptation to the same standard as the printed inspiration and allow each to their stories in their own way.
With that being said, I do have three books I’d like to see dramatized, one way or the other. The classic notion of a ‘movie adaptation’ is impractical for many stories, they’re either too long or too involved with dense character arcs and subplots. But, with today’s expanding realm of visual storytelling, many books can be brought to the screen in a satisfying film or series. Case in point, Harry Potter Series. Between the SFX and an audience fascinated with written images brought to life, this is now possible unlike years ago. Anyway, here’s my three books I’d like to see turned into movies/series. I’m not a director, screenwriter, nor casting agent so I won’t pretend to think my notions on those are worth mentioning.
My first book is Christopher Moore’s Lamb. This is a story told my from the perspective of Biff, the ‘forgotten’ disciple of Christ. He is Jesus’ best friend since childhood, and the story explains those missing eighteen years of Christ’s life in the New Testament. This movie would surely spark some controversy, and for that I’m a big fan of the concept. Plus, it’s just a cool tale. These two kids, one already burdened with the knowledge that he’s the Messiah and the other his loyal (and self-proclaimed more ‘street savvy’) best friend, set out to find the three Wise Men who visited him in the manger. Their journey takes them away from Jerusalem into Central Asia and India, among other places. It’s an interesting idea on the origins of Jesus’ message and how he came to form his own Ministry. Plus, they learn kung-fu. It’s got action, romance, and at times the story is irreverently told, which I found absolutely delightful. Being a sucker for epics, it follows the young Messiah from twelve years old to his crucifixion (hope I didn’t ruin the ending for anyone). Essentially, this is a buddy story, but it possibly uncovers the truth of Christ’s message and how it can be embraced by everyone.
The next one is Stephen King’s (originally published as Richard Bachman) The Running Man. I know this was made into that atrocity starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. I know I just got though explaining how the mediums are unfairly compared, but this is one of those exceptions. This is one movie that couldn’t have been further from the book (except The Color of Money, but that’s something else). But I think it’s an interesting reflection of our world, and where it might be going, therefore worth the retelling. In the novel, Ben Richards is not a framed cop arrested and sentenced to competing against professional killer/athletes on an elaborate urban set within a monstrous studio. Nope. He’s a disillusioned father in a dystopian future where entertainment is much like our reality T.V. shows today except with more…permanent consequences. His wife and child are sick with the current epidemic of the times, they’re hopelessly poor, and his only chance is to sign up for the mother of all gameshows, The Running Man, where surviving would set him up for life. Here, they have to pass a rigorous physical and psychological evaluation to even compete. The goal is to last one month, on the run, with ‘The Hunters’ chasing them down. The Hunters are a team of mercenaries charged with finding and killing the fugitive through the help of the viewing audience as they phone in tips of the contestant’s location for a reward. As Richards proves time and time again he’s one smart and resourceful fugitive, we follow him throughout the country, dodging the Hunters as his equally oppressed fellow citizens call in to claim this reward money. Then it all culminates in one explosive, fantastic act of revenge and finality.
Then there’s Ron Chernow’s incredibly enlightening biography, Alexander Hamilton. HBO adapted David McCullough’s John Adams into a mini-series, and as good as that was, I was disappointed in the chosen subject. Hamilton is one of the most controversial figures of the Founding Fathers, often vilified and rarely acknowledged as one of the most accomplished figures of that era. In fact, he’s second only to Benjamin Franklin in terms of revolutionary contributions despite never living to see his 50th birthday. He’s one of the only figures to serve in the Revolutionary War, with distinction, and serve the subsequent government at the federal level. His origins are remarkable in their humility, a poor child on the island of St. Croix in the Caribbean with a mother arrested for adultery and a father who abandoned him and his brother. Throughout his political career, he sparked huge debates as to the role of Federal government in States affairs, was a nemesis to Jefferson, and was involved in the nation’s first sex scandal. He was an extraordinary man with human limits, yet he is one of the least covered subjects in today’s history classes, except as a point of interest in his duel with Aaron Burr. He is the Founding Father with the most far-reaching influence in global affairs, still felt today. As a nation forgetting its history at an alarming rate, I think this screen adaptation not only deserves to be made, but is vital.