A book filled with inner monologue, a Bengal tiger and a shipwrecked boy somehow managed to be turned into a film; an Academy Award-winning one at that. Ang Lee has himself called LIFE OF PI the most difficult film he’s ever made. LIFE OF PI was once considered unfilmable due to the importance of the tiger and its human qualities. However, thanks to the required technology being enabled a few years ago, the tiger and story could finally be brought to the big screen. Check out THN’s list of seemingly unfilmable films which were made into movies.
A key to bringing those supposedly unfilmable movies to life is modern CGI. Where would the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy be without it? Children would have played hobbits, Nazgûl-birds made to fly by hanging them on strings, and a doll would have portrayed Gollum, with a less than an impressive voice. The world and words of Tolkien are intricate and were deemed unfilmable until Peter Jackson came along and mastered the depiction of THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING.
Depicting high society mixed with debauchery wasn’t the challenging aspect of adapting ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’. Neither was it difficult to have a handsome man remain handsome, while those surround him age. It was the portrait of Dorian Gray – a single painting shown only in one scene which complicates the film. Funnily enough, the 1945 offering seems to be the only one that can do the portrait and the work of Oscar Wilde justice. How does one show the sin, the downfall, and corruption which ages the painting and not the protagonist? Check out THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY to find out.
Trashy you say? Yes, the novel was, and as shown in HITCHCOCK (2012), which focuses completely on the making of PSYCHO, it wasn’t easy to adapt. Robert Bloch’s novel was slightly altered for the big screen. The biggest changes were the focus on Marion in the first part of the film and Hitchcock turning Norman Bates into a handsome man; quite different from his overweight and drunken demeanour in the book, but brilliant and even more terrifying for viewers. Not only does the difficulty of filming PSYCHO lie in it being based on a trashy novel, but also due to the fact the inner dialogues between Mother Bates and her psychotic son had to be omitted from the film.
Based on Roald Dahl’s ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ from 1964, the screenplay was originally supposed to be written by Dahl himself. However, he never got around to doing so and was immensely disappointed with the novel-turned-musical starring Gene Wilder. A world made of wonderful treats have the children excited at first, but after Willy Wonka goes on a homicidal mission, it’s understood he is just as bonkers as his crazy world. Oompa Loompas and edible walls are only part of the wackiness transferred to the screen from the book.
Similar to the problems facing LIFE OF PI, PLANET OF THE APES had to deal with humanizing animals. The apes from Pierre Boulle’s french novel spoke, walked, acted like humans and were the intellectually superior beings. The prosthetic make-up in the film is considered groundbreaking for its time and despite the difficulty of bringing the educated apes and humans-turned-slaves to the big screen, they must have done something right, because the film spawned many sequels, a tv-series adaptation and has now been rebooted for the second time, with James Franco in the lead role.
THE LIFE OF PI is released on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK today.