Monday, June 16, 2014

TODAY'S NUGGET: The Adjustment Bureau (2011) - Adapting a Short Story into a Feature

[Quick Summary: The Adjustment Bureau continues to keep apart a couple in love.] 

Today I decided to reverse engineer this script.
 
How did the screenwriter expand the short story into a film?

In the short story:
- David Norris works at an insurance company.
- He's married.
- It happens in a day and within 18 pages.

In the screenplay:
- David Norris is a congressman.
- He's single and falls in love.
- It happens over 6+ years, and 129 pages.

After reading William Goldman's book, I know audiences should be ok with these superficial changes as long as:

1) The emotional core was the same.
2) That the emotional core was protected at all costs.

In the short story, the emotional core is: "Should I tell my wife the truth?"

In the script, the writer structured the story around this question.

The script asks this question three times - all at major turning points, all with higher stakes.

Check them both out for yourself.  They're worth the read.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: To do justice to a short story, stick close to its emotional core.

The Adjustment Bureau (2011)
by George Nolfi
Based on the short story, "The Adjustment Team", by Philip K. Dick

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