Wednesday, April 3, 2013

2013 OSCARS: Life of Pi (2012) - Adapting the Intangible

[Quick Summary: A 16 yr. old Indian boy is shipwrecked in the Atlantic with a wild tiger.]

First, a tip of the hat to screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (1927-2013), who passed today.

For 40 years, she collaborated with the Merchant-Ivory team, including the Oscar winning adaptions of Howards End, and Room With a View

I wonder how she approached adapting books.

Is there a method to crafting a narrative for film?

I pondered that question as I read today's script, Life of Pi.

It is a sprawling 356 page discussion of faith. How do you show intangible concepts?

Here, the writer did a smart thing.

He avoided talking heads about beliefs and kept the narrative on Pi.

ex. Pi weathers a storm in the Atlantic.
ex. Pi tries to catch fish to eat.

Pi's conflicts with the antagonist and setting naturally bring up the intangible questions.

ex. Do you care for an inherently dangerous beast? (antagonist)
ex. How do you react when the ocean takes your supplies? (setting)

Suddenly, what is unseen in the book is seen on the screen.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: "If you can’t see it or hear it, don’t write it"

Life of Pi (2012)
by David Magee
Based on the original novel by Yann Martel

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