Adaptation in Writing & Film

I don’t know how many of you have seen the new film, “Drive,” by Nicolas Winding Refn or not (but you absolutely should if not! It’s amazing!) but it has gotten me meditating on the art of adaptation.



(movie poster source)

This film is an adaptation of a novella by James Sallis, “Drive.”

The film is a gorgeous fairy tale, a dreamlike depiction of Driver’s transformation into a “real human being.” Of course, I’ve only just begun reading the novella itself but what intrigues me most about this is not simply how a story may be adapted from one medium to another, but how it may be adapted from one story into an entirely new story.

After all, Refn’s “Drive” is inherently different and new from Sallis’ “Drive” (and vice versa). And we hear it said all the time that there is nothing new under the sun and that all stories are essentially built from a handful of foundational plots.

Do you at times find yourself frustrated by this — longing for something new as a viewer/receiver/reader or dreaming of the inspiration that might trigger something “new” as a creator? I know when I was younger, I found myself constantly frustrated by the fact that everything seemed borrowed — as if we were a room of potters all passing around the same clay to re-mold again and again. But now I find this incredibly exciting, a cool and constant challenge. I also find this is not something that is restricted to fiction works by any means — academia recycles plots and information as well (in fact, it might be even more blatant within academic writing). What do you think?

What do you think of adaptation between media? What do you think of it from story to story? Do you find yourself drawn toward a certain type of plot as an audience member? Do you find yourself drawn to a different plot type as a writer/creator?


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