Date: 21 Aug 2003


Re you question on artistic ethics below:

> "Hamlet" ain't Kyd's "Spanish Tragedy" and
> "Dreigroschenoper" ain't Gay's "Beggar's Opera,"
> either. Shouldn't artists be free to adapt?

Depends on what they're purporting to be doing. If they are taking a story and adapting it to a new medium, and that's ALL they're purporting to be doing, then they have an obligation to be true to the spirit, if not the letter, of the original work. MURDER, MY SWEET is a film adaptation of the novel FAREWELL, MY LOVELY. As such, the filmmakers had an obligation
(which, by and large, they fulfilled) to make the film as close to the book as they could within the confines of the medium to which it was being adapted.

THE LONG GOODBYE puported to be a film adaptation of Chandler's novel. What it was in actuality was Altman's canvas through which he could display his sneering, oh-so-superior contempt for Chandler's work specifically, for the character of Marlowe in particular, and for the hard-boiled genre and ethos in general. If he wanted to do that, he should have commissioned an original screenplay instead of pretending that he was doing a faithful adaptation of Chandler's novel.

So no he WASN'T free to adapt (and before somebody points out that the film rights had been bought and paid for, I'm talking ethics here, not legality) as you use the term. He was obligated to be faithful, within the limits of his talent and the medium in which he was working, to the work he was adapting.


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