Read the Book, See the Movie: Part 5
–– Lt. Col. Kilgore (Robert Duvall) in "Apocalypse Now" (Screenplay by John Milius and Francis Ford Coppola)
Photos: "Apocalypse Now" and more
Not all novels remain in the same time period in which they were set during their journey to the big screen. In fact, a change in time period or location can reinforce the universal aspects of the story and characters in unexpected ways. For example, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (serialized in 1899 and published as a novel in 1902), about a harrowing journey down the Congo River, became the source for Francis Ford Coppola’s Academy Award-winning 1979 film, “Apocalypse Now,” set during the Vietnam War. Jane Austen’s Emma became the inspiration for the 1995 comedy “Clueless,” which transplanted the storyline and characters into modern-day Beverly Hills. In perhaps the most unorthodox example, the plotline of the 1929 crime novel Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett has been cited by some scholars and critics as the template for films ranging from Akira Kurosawa’s “Yojimbo” (1961) to Sergio Leone’s “A Fistful of Dollars” (1964) and Walter Hill’s “Last Man Standing” (1996).
The process of adapting a novel can result in other kinds of changes as well, such as turning the story into a musical. James Hilton’s Goodbye, Mr. Chips was a popular 1934 novel translated into an Academy Award-winning film in 1939, and was later adapted into a 1969 film musical starring Peter O’Toole. Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol has been filmed faithfully on many occasions, including a 1938 version with Reginald Owen and a 1951 version with Alastair Sim, but it also inspired a 1970 screen musical, “Scrooge,” as well as a 2009 computer-animated version by Robert Zemeckis. Similarly, Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871), have inspired a wide variety of filmic interpretations ranging from the classic 1951 Disney animated film to a CGI-enhanced film by Tim Burton in 2010.