Some of the greatest films of all time, in a wide variety of genres, have been adapted from short stories and novels.
Despite the fact that the literary and cinematic storytelling mediums are often vastly different, some talented writers have managed to bridge the gap between the two — to varying degrees of success. But crossing that bridge is no easy venture.
Screenwriting is a visual medium, so those writing screenplays do not have the benefit of being able to write detailed back stories and inner thoughts of characters. Every single line of scene description and dialogue translates to the screen, which is why screenwriters can’t go into such detail. They have 90-120 pages — give or take — to convey a visual story. One page equals one minute of screen time.
When he published The Sun Also Rises in 1926, Ernest Hemingway was well-known among the expatriate literati of Paris and to cosmopolitan literary circles in New York and Chicago. But it was A Farewell to Arms, published in October 1929, that made him a celebrity.
With this newfound fame, Hemingway learned, came fan mail. Lots of it. And he wasn’t really sure how to deal with the attention.
Kazuo Ishiguro has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature and, as a long-term scholar and fan of Ishiguro, I feel compelled to join the celebration. The Swedish academy aptly described Ishiguro’s works as possessing “great emotional force” which “uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world”. But in an interview posted on the Nobel Prize website, Ishiguro offered a narrower statement of his interest in wordly connections, saying:
One of the things that’s interested me always is how we live in small worlds and big worlds at the same time: that we have a personal arena in which we have to try and find fulfilment and love, but that inevitably intersects with a larger world, where politics, or even dystopian universes, can prevail. So I think I’ve always been interested in that. We live in small worlds and big worlds at the same time and we can’t … forget one or the other.