I remember when Miramax originally had the rights to “The Lord of the Rings” and had wanted to squash the three books into one film. Considering each book was so dense, this was a preposterous idea. Granted there is a lot of time spent in the books focusing on landscape and building descriptions, but even two films would have felt rushed and shallow.
This is something I think about a lot when thinking about book to screen adaptations. Some work amazingly well (Pride and Prejudice, Children of Men, The Constant Gardener, Brokeback Mountain, while others suffer considerably. This is usually due to the length of the book, or the amount of information.
For a good example look at “Memoirs of a Geisha”.
The book was filled with so much information and detail, and even though the film ran for about three hours, it was still kind of like ‘PRESTO!! You’re a Geisha!!!’. There was none of the suspense, or build up or sense of being educated that you got from the book. It was a sugar coated candy coloured version of the book.
Had HBO or Showtime gotten the rights to it and made it into a three or four part miniseries, who knows to what dizzying heights you could have been taken. Every episode a mini cliff hanger, and ever character gets fully drawn.
I have been thinking about this as I have been reading “The Time Travellers Wife” knowing that they are making it into a film.
Regardless of my thoughts on the director and writer, the cast is spectacular, but not for a two hour plus film. If anything called out for a multi part adaptation this book did.
The time spent on character and the evolving relationship between Henry and Clare deserves a two hour film. But into that mix you have to throw in multi layered narratives of Henry and his time travelling to the past and future. Meeting Clare at various stages, plus all of his back story with his mother, father and Kimy takes time in setting up and should not be rushed. Call me a pessimist, but I really cannot see this working out well. I could be proved wrong, but I still think they should do something in the vein of “Elizabeth I” and “Angels in America” and keep it to TV, allowing you take the time in telling the story.
While reading the book I was trying to think which parts should be left out, and there was nothing. Every word is important. Every character adds something to the story, and is as important to the love story between Clare and Henry as they are themselves.
Who knows, maybe they will do a two part movie ala Kill Bill. But since this is probably not going to happen, all I can do is hope that everyone involved puts their best foot forward to make a film worthy of Audrey Niffenegger’s brilliant novel.