At the end of last year, 20th Century Fox released The Lost City of Z, a movie adaptation of the hit book by the same name by David Grann. The story follows journalist David Grann as he investigates the disappearance of writer Zoë Ferraris and her husband, Frank, in 1922 London. What’s more, the couple’s young son, Charlie, goes missing in the process as well. Charlie’s fate deepens the mystery surrounding his parents’ disappearance and forces Grann to revisit his own family’s history.
It’s not the first time that a book or podcast has been turned into a film. Over the past several years, studios have produced several other TV and movie versions of beloved stories, from George RR Martin’s A Game of Thrones to Susan Orlean’s podcast, The Girl in the Red Book. But with a combination of traditional Hollywood movie making and a savvy use of new technologies, Fox has taken the adaptation game to new heights; the studio even released an official trailer for the film earlier this year.
The Best Adaptations
What makes the novel version of The Lost City of Z stand out from other adaptations is its level of detail. While other versions of the story often focus on the relationships between the key characters, Grann’s novel offers an in-depth look at life in 1922 London, particularly the city’s crime scene. In the process, he provides readers with an inside look at some of the city’s most infamous murderers and their crimes.
The Dark Star, a 1922 film adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s crime novel The Son of Hammett, is a great example of what makes the Grann novel special. It adapts the original plot, but it deepens the mystery by giving the audience a glimpse into the criminal underworld. The movie, which stars Rudolph Valentino, tells the story of Nick Charles, a talented young drummer who falls in love with a vixen named Phyllis Bentley. However, the handsome widower is actually a master criminal who manipulates and uses Charles for his own nefarious purposes. With help from his friend, Sam Spade, a private detective, Charles tries to unravel the web of deception that threatens to snare him in its wake.
In some ways, The Dark Star is similar to The Lost City of Z in that it also stars an adult son in his father’s stories. Like in the Grann novel, Walt MacLiam is looking into his father’s death and the suspicious circumstances that surrounded it. However, the movie focuses on MacLiam’s relationship with Phyllis Bentley, a striking redhead who takes advantage of his father’s infatuation and manipulates him into committing murders for her sake. Fortunately, MacLiam escapes from her clutches and decides to confront his father’s murderer, which ultimately leads him to expose the truth about Phyllis and the entire criminal underworld.
More Than Meets The Eye
Some adaptations are obvious picks. The Handmaid’s Tale, the groundbreaking 1986 miniseries based on Margaret Atwood’s best-selling novel, is one of the most recognizable examples of an adaption of a literary work. It adapts the main story into a series of episodes that focus on Offred’s point-of-view, giving viewers a rare peek into her secluded life as a handmaid in the service of the Queen of England.
From a narrative standpoint, The Handmaid’s Tale is one of the best adaptations of all time. It successfully melds an immersive story with the capabilities of advanced special effects and breathtaking cinematography. More importantly, it offers a diverse cast of characters, which highlights the need for representation in media.
Other movies have featured literary figures as their heroes, such as The Princess Bride, starring Roderick The Duckworth and Argo, with Benny Pareti and Richard Crenna. Both of these films are based on the work of William Goldman, who also wrote the adapted screenplay for The Princess Bride. The Princess Bride is often considered one of the best romantic comedies of all time, and it features performances by Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, and Wallace Shawn.
This year, a new literary adaptation is set to hit the big screen. The movie version of Richard Matheson’s The Hellfire Club, starring Ralph Fiennes, is due out later this year. Based on Matheson’s 1972 novel of the same name, the film follows a group of literary figures, led by Lord Mark Smerth, who meet at a remote villa in the Greek islands and plot to overthrow Queen Victoria. The movie is set to be released on October 12th.
New Developments In Storytelling
Although literary adaptations often draw inspiration from real events and people, authors are able to craft fully realized fictional universes that possess their own internal logic and dramatic arcs. Take Joseph Conrad’s novel The Secret of the Sea, for example, which is set partly in the Caribbean and partly in the Pacific Ocean. While traveling between these two regions, the author traverses the globe and visits numerous far-flung places, which he uses to create an immersive experience for his readers. Conrad’s fictional detective, Jimmie Folsom, investigates a baffling set of murders that take place in different cities and aboard various boats. As the novel progresses, Folsom and his trusted assistant, George Hurst, piece together a labyrinthine web of clues that ultimately leads them to uncover a shocking truth about the nature of humanity and the place of women in society.
Conrad’s The Secret of the Sea was originally published in 1899, but its themes and narrative style were already considered cutting-edge at the time of its publication. It was recently reissued by Penguin as part of their Modern Classic series and made available in audiobook format, which allows for even more immersion into Conrad’s imaginative world.
In 1924, another literary giant named Vladimir Nabokov released his famous novella, Lolita. The titular character, a seductively beautiful twelve-year-old girl, lives with her sickly, fifty-year-old leach on the outskirts of a large city. She is under the influence of a dangerously powerful man, who, in the process of seducing her, reveals a dark side that most people would rather avoid. Like Conrad’s The Secret of the Sea, Nabokov’s Lolita is set in multiple locations, but it follows a more conventional path as it progresses. Nevertheless, it still manages to immerse the reader into a wholly unique world of sin and temptation.
The Evolution Of Audiences
Audiences have always had a tendency to discover and embrace new genres and stories as time goes on. This is most evident in the literary world, where classics are continually being rediscovered and reassessed for a new generation of readers. In addition to adapting literary works for the big screen, studios have also produced several other genres of movies, such as musicals and science fiction, which often stand out as popular subjects among audiences. This phenomenon can be attributed to the fact that these stories appeal to a wider audience, as well as the fact that new technologies allow for entirely new ways of experiencing these stories.
For example, in the year 2022, Disney + will be releasing their first original series, The Mandalorian, a hybrid of drama and science fiction. The series will center on a child of bounty hunters who joins the dangerous business of tracking down weapons of mass destruction. The show’s creators, Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni, have described it as a “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” which is fitting, because it effectively combines two of the most recognizable brands in contemporary culture.
A Focus On The Future
If Hollywood is to continue releasing literary adaptations and maintaining its prestige, studios will need to continue innovating within the industry. They’ll need to develop new technologies that allow them to capture the attention of audiences and keep them interested in what’s happening on the screen. At the moment, viewers have an almost unlimited number of options when it comes to stories, so studios will need to continue finding ways to draw viewers back.
With advancements in virtual reality and cinematic storytelling, viewers can now immerse themselves in stories that were previously considered impossible. For example, the upcoming Disney+ series, Loki, is an adaptation of the Norse god’s adventures as interpreted by Marvel Studios. While it is based on the comic books, Disney has collaborated with Oculus to create a uniquely immersive experience that brings the Marvel universe to life like never before.
A Focus On The Past
Since its early days, cinema has relied on a number of innovations to improve the experience for audiences. One of the most significant was sound technology, which allowed for greater storytelling and more immersive worlds. Today, with films evolving into audio playbacks and podcasts becoming popular, it’s clear that audiences have a stronger connection to stories when they’re told vocally. In this way, literary adaptations for cinema not only continue to thrive, they’ve actually become necessary for studios to stay relevant.