Books become films, films become books, cartoons become video games, and soundtracks become samples. Cinema begs, borrows and steals but also gives, shares and lends out. This relationship between authors and film makers is polyamorous, playfully adulterous and so open you could house a library in it. When a book becomes a film something is lost, but also gained. Changing one thing into another often fails (if it was up to me what goes on in a x-box should stay in an x-box) but can sometimes make something magical and different in ways the original author could not have imagined. Shakespeare could not have anticipated 1950’s sci-fi yet Forbidden Planet (1956) is The Tempest. Give the world something and see what it becomes. Storytellers cannot know if what they do will sink and disappear or live and grow and evolve. The spy, the vampire, the hard drinking detective began in books, then enchanted us on screen. Film makers do it best when they make the story their own-Kubrick with Stephen King’s The Shining or Anthony Burgess’s Clockwork Orange, Miloš Forman with Ken Kesey’s One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest, Jonathan Glazer with Michel Faber’s Under the Skin and Hitchcock with Daphne Du Maurier’s The Birds and Rebecca. Some writers write with the Dolby surround sound turned up and the Technicolor on-words that would do anything to move from page to screen. Though if, like me, you groan when a filmmaker gives us too much voiced interior monologue, perhaps it’s time to put down the camera and drag that unfinished novel from under the bed. Books and film are on our magic lantern minds as we get ready to lose ourselves for a couple of hours in Truffaut’s adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 this Sunday. A film of a book that is in itself a book about books. Reading, we’d have to agree, is a dangerous, mind altering thing to do, and stories, stories feed us- we’ll eat them up on film or on the page, we love you so!
To re-phrase the graffiti written across the River Don heading out of town, ‘Imagine waking up tomorrow and all the stories have disappeared.’