There is a philosophical exercise that asks the student to contemplate the principle that if you lock three monkeys in a room, each with a typewriter and endless paper, and given an infinitesimal amount of time they would produce the complete works of Shakespeare. This is a concept more about epochs and infinity than monkeys or Shakespeare but it is often cited as an introduction to the endless opportunities of limitless time. A couple of decades ago there was a critique of Bridges of Madison County insinuating that if you put three monkeys in a room and gave them a fortnight they would come up with ‘Bridges’. Just a tongue-in-cheek put-on by some jealous critic perhaps – particularly as the book became an overnight worldwide best-seller.
Despite the almost unacceptable criticism – ‘trite;’ ‘sentimental slush;’ ‘contrived, unrealistic dialogue;’ Bridges was adapted for the big screen, starring Meryl Steep, and heralded as co-star and director Clint Eastwood’s best ever film. They’ve even turned Bridges into a successful Broadway musical. So – how does a book that was pilloried, scorned and ridiculed become such a successful movie? Well in the words of multi-Oscar winner William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; Marathon Man; The Princess Bride, etc.!!):
Nobody knows nothin’
Which might lead us onto the question though – which was better the book or the movie? Can you ever adapt a book into movie form? Should a movie screenplay just offer the flavour or essence of the original book or should it be an accurate rendering of every chapter?
Some films have been acclaimed for being ‘better’ than the original book – For example, A Tale of Two Cities, Bridge Over the River Kwai, the aforementioned Princess Bride.
Other famous movies have enhanced the sales and reputation of the original novel. Harry Potter, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Gone With the Wind.
We all have our opinions of course but what is increasingly true is the way that the literary/cinema photography structure is changing. We’re in a digital age now and it is easier to get our book published thanks to the emergence of self-publishing houses. It’s also easier to make a movie. Yes! ‘make’! – film and editing equipment is relatively cheap and there are lots of would-be Tarantinos out there able and willing to do a professional job. Change is afoot! – Ask Amazon or Netflix.
The alternatives to self-publishing/production, as an author, centre on eternally writing to publishing houses begging them to ask one of their fresh, fledgling Cambridge undergraduates to take a quick imperious glance at your manuscript. And anyone who has summited a film script knows that getting anyone of note to read it is asking for a minor miracle.
Perhaps the first step to making that movie is to have the script published – that is, a script that is perfectly polished, edited, formatted – and then published.
We could help with that. At least your work will be ‘out there!’ instead of collecting dust. And you may be able to send these decision-making units a hard copy – that will stand out amongst the thousands of manuscripts that are tossed carelessly across overflowing desks. We can’t promise anything – but we’ll help!