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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Adaptation Analysis: Graham Greene’s and Neil Jordan’s The End of the Affair

My film adaptation series continues on my Cinematic Syntax with an examination of Graham Greene’s The End of The Affair and Neil Jordan’s adaptation. Surprisingly, this is the first novel I have written an adaptation analysis on and I am not disappointed with the novel chosen. For useful information, I use John Desmond’s chapter on “The Novel” in his book (Adaptation: Studying Film and Literature) throughout the piece, and make it clear that it is necessary to cut when adapting a novel because of the sheer amount of content. A film sticks to an average run-time of two hours, give or take, so it cannot fully contain the immensity of a novel. Without further delay, here is The End of the Affair.

The adaptation of Graham Greene’s The End of The Affair successfully portrays the story’s general themes. Some themes in both versions are the struggles with religious belief and unbelief, the effect of the miraculous, the power of love, and marriage as safety. In an interesting move, director Neil Jordan omits Greene’s references to love and hate inextricably tied as two sides of the same coin. Although the film opens: “this is a diary of hate,” which is truncated compared to Bendrix, who is the main character, and his constant rumination: “So this is a record of hate far more of love…” (1) it does not seem to connect love and hate as much as Greene’s original.  In contrast to the original, the film’s ending is reordered with scenes that occur earlier in the novel. Although Jordan keeps Bendrix as a writer in the film, Greene’s novel solidifies the writer’s process, lifestyle, and routine. Greene’s reference to many aspects of writing seems to be his personal meditation on the profession. However, for Jordan’s he chose to visually emphasize the style and sounds associated with his character’s trade (typewriter, zooming into a sheet of paper, and clicking). One of the most notable choices for the novel is its use of the temporal. Greene cleverly switches between different stages of WW2— all shown through various stages of an affair. To comment on this, Jordan uses cinematic techniques to interrupt the present with flashbacks of the past. 

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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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Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: Practical Magic

Practical Magic is a 1998 American romcom fantasy film, based on the 1995 novel of the same name by Alice Hoffman. The film was directed by Griffin Dunne and stars Sandra Bullock, and Nicole Kidman as Sally and Gillian Owens, respectively. The movie starts with Sally and Gillan’s Aunts Francis (Stockard Channing) and Jet (Dianne Wiest), telling their young nieces about the first witch in their family, Maria, and how she cast a curse that caused any man who loves an Owens woman to die. This is what happened to the girl’s father, because of this their mother died of heart break, leaving Sally and Gillian to the care of their aunts. In their aunts’ home they learn the craft, but also have to deal with their peers making fun of them for their strange family legacy. As Sally and Gillian grow up their paths diverge from each other. Sally ends up falling in love, getting married, and having two daughters (Evan Rachel Wood & Alexandra Artrip), but Sally’s husband ends up dying because of the curse. Gillian on the other hand runs away, and has a series of bad relationships. Eventually the sisters come together again when Gillian’s boyfriend Jimmy (Goran Višnjić) becomes abusive, setting off a chain of events that lead to many changes in their lives. In this blog post, I will be looking at changes made to the characters and plot when Practical Magic was adapted to film. 

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Adaptation Analysis: It Happened One Night (1934) and “Night Bus”

In addition to writing film reviews, I will use my Cinematic Syntax to engage in Adaptation Analysis. This semester, my film adaptation course, Stories Into Film with Dr. Christopher Wielgos, gives me a space to closely examine the process of adapting a text by comparing it to its film adaptation. Ultimately, my job is to determine what is kept, dropped, and added in order to bring attention and interpret the filmmaker’s choices. For example, practical decisions can often be made when the director does not have the technology to adapt a scene accurately. So, I will speculate on the reason for each choice based on my knowledge of both mediums. Our main text, Adaptation: Studying Literature and Film by John Desmond, outlines the film techniques that convey meaning as opposed to literature— performance, words (spoken or written), music, sound effects, and photographic images.

Film is a multi-track medium that brings meaning through those techniques. While writing can be interpreted innumerably, the written word is considered a single-track medium creating meaning through its words. An issue Desmond brings to the forefront is the problem with fidelity. He explains that when it comes to adaptation analysis, fidelity terminology such as “original material” and “faithful adaptation” often engages in glorifying the writing over the film. As a rule of thumb, I will try my best not to elevate the written material over film by avoiding and/or recognizing such loaded terminology. The end goal of each adaptation analysis is to determine whether I consider the film a close, loose, or intermediate adaptation. Although subjective, I will try my best to determine the category through countless examples between both mediums reasonably. I will engage with both microcosmic and macrocosmic applications.

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Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain is a 2005 romantic drama directed by Ang Lee and stars Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway. The movie starts off in the year 1963, when the main characters Ennis Del Mar (Ledger) and Jack Twist (Gyllenhaal) are hired as sheep herds that summer. Throughout the season they have an amicable relationship, but it isn’t until one night of drinking that their relationship starts. Jack makes a pass at Ennis while they are sharing a tent and initially Ennis is hesitant about the situation, but eventually gives in and the two men have sex. Afterwards, Ennis tells Jack that he isn’t gay, believing that he does not want to have sex with the other man again. Despite this the two end up having a passionate sexual relationship for the remainder of the time they are employed together. It isn’t until after the two men part ways that they realize they had also formed a strong emotional relationship. During their four years apart, Ennis and Jack both end up with wives (Williams & Hathaway) and children, but later the lovers reconnect and start an affair lasting almost 20 years. The film is based on Annie Proulx’s short story of the same name, originally published in The New Yorker on October 13, 1997. In this blog post I will be analyzing the characters of Ennis and Jack between the two mediums; as well as how the beginning and ending of the film is different compared to the original story. 

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