Undefended: Dream Adaptations

A good adaptation is hard to find. This month, FilmFisher’s writers had a different sort of prompt, which required some creativity: they were asked to pick the books they most wanted to see adapted to the screen, and to pair them with the ideal directors for the project. Take a look at the lists below, and chime in with your own pairings in the comments:

Timothy Lawrencetill-we-have-faces-4

  1. Vladimir Nabokov’s Ada, or Ardor, directed by David Cronenberg
  2. Kazuo Ishiguro’s An Artist of the Floating World, directed by Isao Takahata
  3. Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man is Hard to Find, directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
  4. Thomas Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
  5. C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces, directed by Terrence Malick

Hono[u]rable mention: John le Carré’s The Honourable Schoolboy, directed by Tomas Alfredson – but that’s just me hijacking this prompt to voice my ardent longing for his Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sequel. Currently reading the book for the first time, and can’t help trying to picture Alfredson’s version as I go.

Robert Brown

animal farmWhy haven’t the Coen’s adapted O’Connor yet? It just makes so much sense. Each of my picks have been adapted at least once before, but that would not make the following pairings any less exciting:

  1. George Orwell’s Animal Farm, directed by Chris Noonan
  2. The Gospel of John, directed by Terrence Malick*
  3. Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth, directed by Wes Anderson
  4. Mark Millar’s Superman: Red Son, directed by Joe Johnston
  5. Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, directed by David Yates

*Yes, I did just recommend a Gospel of John adaptation in a recent Undefended list, but when I revisited the film at Easter — sandwiched between viewings of The Tree of Life and The New World — I couldn’t help but think of how much better the film would have been if Malick had directed it.

Joshua Gibbs

  1. Joan Lindsey’s Picnic At Hanging Rock directed by Sofia Coppola
  2. Herman Hesse’s Demian directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
  3. Walker Percy’s Lost in the Cosmos directed by Chris Marker
  4. The Book of Tobit directed by Tilman Singer
  5. Ottesa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation directed by Jim Jarmusch

Travis Kyker

Seconding the love for a Coen and O’Connor pairing. It’s bound to happen eventually. My picks, ranked by wishful priority:
  1. Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising sequence, condensed from five books into four films, directed by Alfonso Cuarón
  2. John Milton’s Paradise Lost, directed by Scott Derrickson (This one is more than just a pipe dream—Derrickson has pitched this project multiple times and calls it his white whale. Here’s hoping he catches it.)
  3. Leif Enger’s Peace Like a River, directed by David Lowery
  4. John Steinbeck’s East of Eden, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
  5. Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, directed by Steven Spielberg

paradise lostJackson De Vight

I’ve mostly decided to stick to the summer hits I wish I was getting this year, since I have to admit my reading life has been limited in the extreme beyond academics (though my #5 has been a longtime desire).
  1. Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series, directed by Sam Mendes – I know it’s an old joke to wonder why they never made a fourth Indiana Jones or adapted The Hobbit, but whatever Disney put out as the Artemis Fowl film was so far from the book it’s genuinely difficult to call it an adaptation. Those books were good fun, with unique world-building and memorable characters
  2. Timothy Zahn’s (original) Thrawn Trilogy, directed by Gareth Edwards – This one I definitely will never get, but a man can wish.
  3. Glen David Gold’s Carter Beats the Devil, directed by Rian Johnson
  4. Netflix/HBO series of Plutarch’s Roman Lives, directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
  5. Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, directed by Martin Scorsese – The 1958 version was poor when it was released and is almost unbearable today, aside from some particular standout performances.

Tom Upjohn

Love the idea of John by Terrence Malick and A Good Man is Hard to Find by the Coen brothers.
  1. C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce, directed by David Lynch
  2. Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, directed by David Fincher
  3. Mortimus Clay’s The Purloined Boy, directed by Hayao Miyazaki
  4. Brandon Mull’s Fablehaven, directed by Guillermo del Toro
  5. Honoré de Balzac’s Pere Goriot, directed by Francis Ford Coppola

Remy Wilkins

Fun idea and great lists, everybody. For no real reason, I’ve restricted myself to books and directors that haven’t been mentioned. Here’s my take:
  1. And Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris, directed by Asghar Farhadi
  2. The Sellout by Paul Beatty, directed by Spike Lee
  3. The Thing Itself by Adam Roberts, directed by J. C. Chandor
  4. Anathem by Neal Stephenson, directed by Denis Villeneuve
  5. Pirate Freedom by Gene Wolfe, directed by Gore Verbinski

That last one’s for you, Timothy.

Robert Heckert

  1. Glen Cook’s Chronicles of the Black Company, directed by Chad Stahelski
  2. Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl, directed by J.J. Abrams
  3. John Wooden biopic, directed by Matthew Weiner (I just looked up at my Mad Men collection and decided on it – the more I think about it, though, the more intrigued I am by the idea)
  4. G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown, directed by David Fincher
  5. William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by David Lowery

A.C. Gleason

Fiction selections:

  1. The Wendigo by Algernon Blackwood, adapted and directed by Taylor Sheridan
  2. The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen, adapted by Jordan Peele and directed by Alfred Hitchcock (or Christopher Nolan)
  3. Black as the Pit, from Pole to Pole by Howard Waldrop and Steven Utley, adapted by John Milius and directed by ’70s era Francis Ford Coppola with contemporary cinematic technology
  4. The Same Deep Waters as You by Brian Hodge, adapted and directed by Darren Aronosky
  5. Huck by Mark Millar and Rafael Albuquerque, adapted by Mark Millar and directed by late ’70s/early ’80s era Steven Spielberg with contemporary cinematic technology
  6. Midnight Sun by Ramsey Campbell, co-adapted by Campbell and Mike Flanagan and directed by Flanagan

Non-fiction selections:

  1. Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue by Ryan Holiday, adapted by Aaron Sorkin and directed by David Fincher (this one is so obvious I wouldn’t be surprised if it was already happening)
  2. The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival by John Valiant, adapted by David Mamet and directed by Sergio Leone (really, the obvious choice is Tarkovsky, but since I would like humans to watch this movie, he’s out)
  3. The Battle of Antioch (1098) as recounted by Rodney Stark in God’s Battalions, adapted by Lawrence Kasdan and directed by Akira Kurosawa
  4. Tree of Salvation: Yggdrasil and the Cross in the North by G. Ronald Murphy, coadapted by Murphy and Werner Herzog and directed by Herzog
  5. Body Snatchers in the Desert: The Horrible Truth at the Heart of the Roswell Story by Nick Redfern, coadapted by Redfern and Oliver Stone and directed by Oliver Stone

Joel Bourgeois

Moby Dick from Herman Melville 's 'Moby-Dick'. Novel about search for a whale. American author and poet, 1 August 1819 – 28 September 1891. (Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images)

  1. Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick adapted and directed by Stanley Kubrick*
  2. Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy – a trilogy adapted and directed by David Lynch (Inferno), Martin Scorsese (Purgatorio), and Terrence Malick (Paradiso)
  3. C.S. Lewis’ The Horse and His Boy adapted and directed by David Lowery
  4. G.K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday adapted and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen**
  5. George MacDonald’s At the Back of the North Wind adapted and directed by Hayao Miyazaki

*I haven’t seen the one with Gregory Peck, and I know Kubrick’s gone, but I really want to see Kubrick adapt this anyways.

**There is a movie with the same title, but it is not an adaptation of the book.

Timothy Lawrence

A graduate of the Torrey Honors Institute at BIOLA University, Timothy Lawrence teaches great books through Torrey Academy in Southern California. He writes essays and fiction and counts the Coen Brothers and George Lucas among his personal heroes.

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