I couldn’t get more than a paragraph into this article on “what makes a good book adaptation,” but maybe you’ll have better luck:
As The Great Gatsby opens, what makes a good book adaptation, anyway?
Baz Luhrmann is the latest to try translating a celebrated book to the big screen, but there’s danger in being too faithful to the text.
Gatsby fever won’t break until Baz Luhrmann’s new adaptation opens this week, but this fifth film version of F Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel raises an interesting question: what makes a good adaptation, anyway? Why does Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining merit documentaries in its own right, and Stephen King’s The Shining end up forgotten among the made-for-TV mini-series? What should we hope for – or fear – from Luhrmann’s take?
Adapting a novel or short story into film is a lot translation – turning words on a page into the language of movies: angles, actors and images. Filmmakers, like translators, are stuck in the middle between the original and the audience, and have to balance three elements: story, style and ambition.