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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

How To Turn Complicated Books Into Movies

James Franco uses split screen as a device in his new film, "As I Lay Dying." (Screenshot from Millenium Films)

James Franco (right) uses split screen as a device in his new film, “As I Lay Dying.” (Screenshot from Millenium Films)

Later this month, James Franco’s film adaptation of William Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying” will have a limited release in American cities.

The book is famously complicated, featuring 15 points of view, internal monologues and semi-literate narrators, so adapting the novel to the screen is an ambitious undertaking.

Screenwriter Cami DeLavigne. (Robin Lubbock/Here & Now)

Screenwriter Cami DeLavigne. (Robin Lubbock/Here & Now)

Screenwriters have long been adapting material that wouldn’t seem to play well on the screen with varying levels of success.

Cami DeLavigne is a screenwriter who co-wrote the critically acclaimed film “Blue Valentine” in 2010.

DeLavigne says the best screenwriters bring their own interpretation to the source material.

“The screenwriter’s job is making the invisible, visible,” DeLavigne told Here & Now. “A novel is not structured like a movie, so you have to give yourself liberty to make changes for stuff that really fits the cinema rather than fits the words on the page.”

DeLavigne admires screenwriters like Charlie Kaufman and Stanley Kubrick because they bring new and personal takes to the source material they adapt for film.

“These are two writers who are able to bring their personalities to the movies, and that is why I love them so much,” she said.

DeLavigne says that Kaufman’s “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” and Kubrick’s “Lolita,”  are particularly good adaptations.


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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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