Think of it as a house of bricks in a sense. You take the novel and all the bricks, then break it apart only to put it all back together again on screen. However, as is often the case not only do all the bricks have to be replaced to properly resemble the contents and theme of the novel, but so many more bricks (details) must be added to fill-in all the gaps that the novel does not address. This is not to say that the novel does not contain details (as novels are highly descriptive), but in order for the film to properly bring the book ‘to life’ specific imagery and cinematic elements must be utilized to the fullest effect.
The question remains however, should there be a real distinction between the novel and the film as they are completely different works of art? Thus, some directors remain unconcerned with the original source material (the novel in this case) while others consider accuracy as the primary target of the film.
Therefore, this week Cinema: Counterpoint will be examining the films of Stephen King who has had so many of his novels adapted into successful films – and some that have basically flopped.
Perhaps part of the problem is that so many of his films are so unsettled in terms of genre. The main questions remains: Do his films (adaptations) make you want to read the book or vice-versa? Thus, let’s take a look at a few of the highlights of Stephen King on screen over the past 30+ years.
CUJO (1982): Frightening? In some ways. Disturbing? Yes. Still, the film is much too long and the suspense is limited. (D)
THE DEAD ZONE (1983): Perfect casting of Christopher Walken for the role – who can ever tell if he is in or out of a comatose state. Cronenberg directs this film, which may be one of best adaptations of the novel onto the screen. (B+)
FIRESTARTER (1984): Barrymore was a lousy actress then and even worse now. George C. Scott and Heather Locklear are the only bonuses when it comes to casting and only one of those is really nice to look at. The premise is fairly simple, but the score (Tangerine Dream) and the adaptation onto the big-screen were actually half-decent. (C+)
NEEDFUL THINGS (1993): Nice to see Ed Harris makes an appearance in this one as well as the outstanding performance by Max Von Sydow. As a journey into the “supernatural” per se, the film was a bit of a disappointment. The adaptation is really not top-notch and the quality of the film really is limited to the performance of the cast – and nothing else. (C)
HEARTS IN ATLANTIS (2001): A solid period piece with vibrant, yet honest and poignant performances. Scott Hicks directs and although it may not fall into the ‘horror’ realm, there is a great deal of suspense in the undertones of the film. Simply put, ‘Atlantis’ is nostalgic and magical in some sense. Perhaps the book was better though as is often the case. The film was not popular with audiences and I am not sure exactly why. Was it too slow? This will always riddle me… (B+)
DREAMCATCHER (2003): Morgan Freeman proves here that he is not always a key to success. Too little is revealed too early in the film, and too much is revealed too late – thus our interest is never held. The cast is also questionable. It almost seemed like an episode of the X-files gone terrible wrong. Losing brain cells is also a natural result of re-visiting this film from time to time. Cannot recommend ~ (D+)
THE MIST (2007): The day following a bad storm, small town folks are under attack by monsters and creatures from who knows where. The film is basically unfocused, a bit dull and (no pun intended) – lost in the fog. There are some thrilling and suspenseful moments in the picture, but from start to finish it simply did not hold my interest. Still, the story and the book are good, so I would recommend visiting that channel for entertainment. (C+)
IT (2011): Interested in seeing how this film’s re-make will look at the movie house late this year. Let's hope the adaptation is no worse than what we saw in 'Pet Sematary' or 'Dreamcatcher'...
JER: This will come across more as an editorial since my partner- in- crime, JOHNNY CHAZZ, had been missing in action since his last known whereabouts was probably in some seedy karaoke bar in the wrong side of Sin City… drinking his umpteenth Mia- Tai and selecting to sing his next Steely Dan tune.
(Informational assistance taken from stephenking.com) Born Stephen Edwin King in
|Christopher Walken in THE DEAD ZONE|
Actor Gary Senise and Jer circa 1994- 95