Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: Sherlock – The Hounds of Baskerville 

Sherlock is a BBC television series that ran from 2010 to 2017 and starred Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as John Watson. In the series, the screenwriters often referenced the original stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and sometimes they even adapted whole stories for a specific episode. This is the case for season two, episode two, “The Hounds of Baskerville” (2012), which is a modern retelling of the novel The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902). In the Sherlock episode, Holmes and Watson are contacted by a man named Henry Knight (Russell Tovey), who believes that he saw a “gigantic hound” kill his father when he was a young boy 20 years ago. The way Henry says “hound” instead of “dog” convinces Holmes to take the case and go to Dartmoor to uncover the truth. Once there, Sherlock and Watson find out about a top secret military research base, Baskerville, adjacent to the place where Henry’s father was killed, Dewer’s Hollow. Finding out that the hound is a local legend, the two detectives visit Baskerville using an I.D. card stolen from Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft, as it appears that the hound might have escaped from there. Eventually they are forced to leave because Mycroft finds out what they are doing and an alert is sent through the military base. Given the limited information acquitted from Baskerville, Sherlock decides there is only one real way of figuring out if the hound is real, and that is actually finding it. So that night, he has Henry take himself and Watson to the place where his father was killed. Watson gets separated from the two but soon hears growling, forcing him to run and find the others. When he does, they are frightened and in shock after believing they have seen the hound, and Sherlock is forced to consider a possibility his mind can not rationally believe. In this blog, I will be looking at how the tv series adapted the original story for a modern audience. 

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Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: True Grit

The novel True Grit (1968) by Charles Portis is a highly regarded western, which has been adapted to film twice. The more recent of the two adaptations was released in 2010 by the Coen brothers and starred Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross, Jeff Bridges as Deputy U.S. Marshal Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn, Matt Damon as the Texas Ranger LaBoeuf, and Josh Brolin as Tom Chaney. The film starts with narration from 14-year-old Mattie Ross, telling the viewer how her father was killed. It then cuts to her on the train, going to see her father’s body and have it sent home to her mother. When Mattie talks with the town sheriff about arresting the man, Tom Chaney, responsible, he informs her that there was nothing he could do because the killer fled into Native American territory. Not happy with this answer, she asks the sheriff if she could hire a U.S. Marshal to arrest Chaney, and he points her in the direction of Rooster Cogburn. After much convincing, Rooster eventually takes Mattie’s deal and agrees to track down Chaney for her. It turns out that Chaney is also a wanted man in Texas, and a Texas Ranger, LaBoeuf, is attempting to arrest him for his crimes in the other state. Mattie doesn’t like that if LaBoeuf catches Chaney, he will not be held accountable for her father’s murder. The two men decide that they don’t want a young girl to get in the way of their search for Chaney and attempt to leave her behind. Mattie is determined, though, to see justice for her father, so eventually, Cogburn and LaBoeuf give in and allow her to come with to catch Chaney. In this blog, I will be looking at how fidelity, the essence of the medium, and story elements contribute to the effectiveness of this adaptation. 

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Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: The Hunger Games        

The Hunger Games is a 2012 American dystopian science fiction action film directed by Gary Ross and stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, and Donald Sutherland. It is based on Suzanne Collins’s 2008 novel of the same name, with Collins also writing the screenplay with Ross and Billy Ray. The film starts with Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) interviewing the Gamemaker about the Hunger Games and how it is an important part of the dystopian society. The mostly quiet scene is then cut through with a little girl screaming, which is when the main character Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is introduced as she comforts her sister after a nightmare. Katniss then leaves home and goes into the woods outside District 12 to hunt with her best friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth) before the Reaping later that day. The Reaping is when one girl and one boy from each of the 12 districts is chosen to fight to the death in the country’s  annual event of the Hunger Games. At the Reaping, Katniss’s little sister is chosen to fight in the games, but fearing for her little sister’s life, the 16-year-old volunteers to go in her place. After this, another 16-year-old Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutchinson) is selected out of the boys, and the two tributes are soon taken away on a train to the Capital. Once there, they are given mentors and stylists, train for the games, and are interviewed by Caesar Flickerman along with the other 22 tributes. The children have only a few days to prepare before they are sent into the arena and have to kill each other, as there can only be one winner of the Hunger Games. In this blog post, I will be looking at how the relationships between Katniss and two other characters are affected by the change from book to film. 

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Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: Misery

Misery is a 1990 American psychological thriller film directed by Rob Reiner, starring James Caan and Kathy Bates. The movie’s screenplay was written by William Goldman and based on Stephen King’s 1987 novel of the same name. The film starts with Paul Sheldon (James Caan), a famous novelist, finishing his manuscript for a new book. While traveling from Colorado to his home in New York, he is caught out in a bad blizzard and loses control of his car. Paul loses consciousness in the wreck and breaks both of his legs. He is soon saved by Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), who sees the car in a ditch. She gives Paul CPR before taking him back to her house, still unconscious. When he finally wakes up, Annie introduces herself as a nurse and tells him that she can take care of him until the storm passes because all the telephone lines are down. Annie also tells him that she is his biggest fan and has read all the books in his “Misery series” multiple times. Paul lets Annie read his untitled manuscript because she saved his life, the book angering her because of the profanity. She quickly calms down and apologizes for her outburst, but from this event Paul begins to realize that he might not be safe. Soon after though, she reads his latest Misery novel, in which the main character Misery dies, which sends Annie into a rage. She reveals to Paul that no one knows where he is, having never called a doctor or his daughter and lying to him. Annie locks him into the room he is staying in, and given how badly he is injured, he can not leave.  Paul realizes that he needs to figure out a way to escape from Annie before something worse happens. In this blog, I will look at how the events of the book were changed when being adapted to film. 

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Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: Jumanji

Jumanji is a 1995 fantasy adventure film directed by Joe Johnston and stars Robin Williams, Kirsten Dunst, Bonnie Hunt, and Bradley Pierce. It is loosely based on the 1981 children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg, who also co-wrote the film. The film is the first installment of the Jumanji franchise, which includes two sequels and a spin-off, Zathura, which was also adapted from a Van Allsburg book. The movie starts in 1969 and follows a boy named Alan Parrish (Adam Hann-Byrd) who finds a game, Jumanji, after hearing tribal drums in a construction site; the game was buried 100 years before by two brothers. After arguing with his father, he takes it home, and Alan takes out the game to play. Before he can start, his friend Sarah (Laura Bell Bundy) comes to visit him and the two start playing the game together, but on Alan’s turn, he is sucked into the game, and Sarah is chased away by bats. The story then fades to 26 years later, 1995, when siblings Judy (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter (Bradley Pierce) move into Alan’s abandoned house with their aunt. The two discover Jumanji in the attic after hearing the tribal drums and decide to play it, releasing giant mosquitoes and monkeys on their first two turns. Since Peter rolls a 5, the game releases a now-adult Alan (Robin Williams) as well as a tiger. Alan realizes that the siblings have been playing his original game instead of a new one, and the three find the now grown-up Sarah (Bonnie Hunt). Together the four of them attempt to finish the game, but with every roll, it becomes harder and more dangerous to win. In this blog post, I will look at how the two characters from the book translated into the adaptation and how the story was expanded to make a children’s book long enough for a feature film. 

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Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: Gone Girl

Gone Girl is a 2014 American psychological thriller film directed by David Fincher and stars Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. Gillian Flynn wrote the screenplay based on her 2012 novel of the same title. The movie starts with Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) coming home to find his wife missing, and he quickly becomes the main suspect in her disappearance. The first part of the film switches between current events and flashbacks, told from the perspective of Nick’s wife, Amy Elliot Dunne (Rosamund Pike), as she writes in her diary. Initially, viewers suspect that Nick has not killed his wife, but from Amy’s memories and the evidence given throughout the investigation, it becomes clear that he is responsible. When the diary entries, which span from their first meeting to their fifth wedding anniversary, reach present day, the viewer sees that Amy is alive. It is revealed that for the last year, she has been framing Nick for her murder as a result of his infidelity. This included making over five years’ worth of diary entries detailing the first two happy years of their marriage, all true, to Nick’s eventual abuse of his wife, which was a lie. While Nick attempts to prove his innocence against insurmountable odds, Amy eventually realizes that she wants to return home and make Nick the man she wants him to be. In this blog post, I will discuss Nick’s character and the differences between Amy’s diaries in the two mediums.

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Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is a 2013 urban fantasy film directed by Harald Zwart, starring Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Robert Sheehan, Kevin Zegers, and Jemima West. The film is based on the first book of The Mortal Instruments series, City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare. The story takes place in contemporary New York City and is centered around a 16 year old girl, Clary Fray (Lily Collins), who has believed for her whole life she and her mother were completely normal. Then one night when she goes to a club for her birthday with her best friend, Simon Lewis (Robert Sheehan), Clary believes she witnesses a boy get murdered by three people covered in tattoos. The next day two men come to her house looking for a special cup which her mother (Lena Headey) is hiding. To protect this secret Ms. Fray drinks a potion that puts her to sleep. Just before poisoning herself Clary’s mom calls her daughter and tells her to stay away, but she doesn’t listen and runs home. Once there, she finds what appears to be a dog which ends up attacking Clary. She is saved by one of the tattoos people from the night before, Jace Wayland (Jamie Campbell Bower). He kills the dog and explains to Clary that what just attacked her and the boy he stabbed in the club were actually demons. Jace explains to Clary that he is a Shadowhunter, and the two start the search for Clary’s mother and the secrets she has been hiding. This leads Clary down a path where she learns about the hidden world full of supernatural beings and a past she can not remember. In this blog post, I will be looking at how the adaption keeps, changes, and enhances certain aspects of the original story. 

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Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: The BFG

                     

The BFG is a 2016 American fantasy adventure film directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg, and stars Mark Rylance and Ruby Barnhill. It is based on the 1982 children’s novel of the same name by Roald Dahl. The film takes place in the mid 1900s where a young girl named Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) is living in an orphanage in London. One night when awake during the “witch hour,” when things like the boogeyman come out, she sees a giant (Mark Rylance). Realizing he has been seen, the giant grabs Sophie from her bed and takes the 10 year old girl with him to Giant Country. When they get to the giant’s house Sophie tries to escape, but to keep her with him the giant mixes a nightmare and gives it to Sophie so she will see what happens if she leaves. After Sophie wakes up she agrees not to leave the giant, and the gaint tells her about himself, how he can’t always say what he means, he is the smallest of all the giants, and that he catches dreams to give children. Sophie convinces the giant to show her Dream Country and while catching dreams the giant says he was once called The Big Friendly Giant. Hearing this Sophie decides to call him the BFG. After Sophie accidentally catches a horrible nightmare called a “Trogglehumper,” the BFG takes her back to Giant Country. Fearing that Sophie isn’t safe with him, because the other giants eat humans, he takes her back to the orphanage. He soon takes her back to Giant Country though and the two come up with a plan to stop the man-eating giants. In this blog post I will look at the changes made to the story and Sophie’s character when the novel was adapted into a film.

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Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: Rebecca

Rebecca is a 2020 British romantic thriller film directed by Ben Wheatley and stars Lily James, Armie Hammer, Kristin Scott Thomas. The film is based on the 1938 novel of the same name by Daphne du Maurier, author of many other popular adaptations like My Cousin Rachel, Jamaica Inn, and the short story The Birds. Rebecca starts with the main character, Mrs. de Winter (Lily James), talking about a dream she had the night before about going back to her home, Manderley, which the audience is left to assume is no longer standing. The events of the film take place in the past and are examined through the memories of Mrs. de Winter, starting from her time in Monte Carlo as a lady’s companion to the rich and old Mrs. Van Hopper (Ann Dowd). Eventually the 20 something year-old meets the older Mr. Maxim de Winter (Armie Hammer), and widower, and the two start a friendship that eventually turns romantic. When the future Mrs. de Winter’s employer tells her they are leaving the hotel, she goes to see Maxim to say goodbye. Not wanting to lose her, Maxim asks the young woman to marry him. They honeymoon in Europe and then Mr. de Winter takes his new bride home to Manderley, where she quickly begins to feel uncomfortable. This is mostly due to the head housekeeper Mrs. Danvers (Kristin Scott Thomas), who was incredibly loyal to the first Mrs. de Winter, Rebecca, having known the dead woman as a child. Though she tries to make an effort to adapt to her new home, it soon becomes clear to the second Mrs. de Winter that she is unwelcome in Manderley and that her husband is keeping secrets from her. In this blog post I will examine the main character, the second Mrs. de Winter, and look at changes made to scenes between the Netflix original film and du Maurier’s novel. 

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Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: Interview With the Vampire

Interview with the Vampire is a 1994 American gothic horror film directed by Neil Jordan and stars Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and, Kirsten Dunst. The movie is based on the 1976 novel of the same name by Anne Rice. The movie starts in present-day San Francisco California where the main character, Louis de Pointe du Luc (Pitt), is being interviewed by a reporter Daniel Molloy (Christian Slater) at nighttime. Louis claims to be a vampire but Daniel does not believe him, until Louis starts telling his story. The vampire’s story starts in 1791 Louisiana after the death of his wife in childbirth, which has thrown him into a deep depression , making him want to die. One night while drunk he is attacked by the vampire Lestat de Lioncourt (Cruise), who sees Louis’s dissatisfaction with life and gives him the choice to become a vampire. Louis accepts but soon comes to regret his decision when he finds out that he must kill humans to survive. Instead, Louis chooses to drink on animal blood. Lestat persistently attempts to make Louis feed on humans, which causes them to get into a fight. After their altercation, Louis starts to aimlessly walking the streets of New Orleans intending to leave Lestat. During this he discovers a young girl named Claudia (Dunst) whose mother has died of the plague, and being unable to resist anymore he feeds on  her almost to the point of death. Lestat finds Louis doing this which causes the younger vampire to run away in shame, but seeing the effect on Louis, Lestat takes Claudia back to their home and turns her into a vampire. He tells Louis she is their daughter now and therefore can not leave them, so the three live together for many years until Claudia begins to realize that she will never age. This makes her curious of vampirism and resentful of Lestat for changing her, which sets in motion a number of events including multiple attempts to kill Lestat, as well as Claudia and Louis’s travels in Europe. The whole time the story is being told the audience is also seeing bits of the present with Louis and Daniel, who is slowly starting to believe that the man is truly a vampire. In this blog post I will be looking at how the filmmakers changed the character of Louis and certain parts of the story.

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