RARA-AVIS: Hanson's "L.A. Confidential" Versus Ellroy's (Spoilers)

From: chrisaschneider@earthlink.net
Date: 26 Aug 2003

-------Original Message------- From: JIM DOHERTY < jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com> Sent: 08/26/03 07:11 AM To: rara-avis@icomm.ca Subject: Re: RARA-AVIS: Books different than movies
>> LA CONFIDENTIAL, for example, is not totally faithful to Ellroy's book, but it's a very good movie.

"Not totally faithful"? Pardon me while I guffaw ...

> [...] As for L.A.CONFIDENTIAL, given that the massive novel had to be compressed into a feature-length running time, it was
faithful to the spirit, if not the letter of the novel.

My attention has been elsewhere, of late, so forgive me if I cover points which others have already articulated.

One of the pleasures of the "L.A. Confidential" movie is the way Curtis Hanson & Co. recreated a plot which resembled Ellroy's and yet managed to avoid both libel and confusion. A very adroit piece of footwork, I'd say. But I mean ...

After all, a crucial aspect of the Ellroy novel was the 1950s creation of Disneyland (renamed, with new names for both its creator and its star rodent). This was connected to the creation of Los Angeles' freeways, which Ellroy gave something of the same importance as the Robert Towne did the water-rights in "Chinatown." (Both crucial Los Angeles issues, I might, as a native-born Angelean, add. Cf. the commentary of Joan Didion.)

Then, of course, Ellroy gives renamed Disney a son who's a serial-killer. All of this is crucial to the book. And one could also, of course, mention that the "Kim Basinger" role isn't nearly as large and that the father whose respect "Guy Pearce" wishes, oh-so-sappily, to live up to, is shown by Ellroy to have been a sell-out himself.


I like the book, in all its craziness, and I like the movie, too. But you gotta admit there are major, major differences.


What would you say to a differentiation between "adaptation" ad
"translation"? A "translation" can be a direct, blow-by-blow, reproduction in film terms of what occurs in the book. "Adaptation," by contrast," can involve changes to make the material work in its new circumstances. Sorta like the difference between "Messiah" involving Handel's own orchestrations and the version put together by Mozart.

My basic feeling: They're two differing approaches. One is not *better* than the other, they're just contrasting methods of dealing with material-to-be-filmed.

Direct translations are very nice -- WHEN THEY WORK. But, then, imaginative play with the material is fine, too. I love both "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" and the Ridley Scott/David Peoples "Blade Runner", f'rinstance ... and they have virtually nothing to do with each other.


# Plain ASCII text only, please.  Anything else won't show up.
# To unsubscribe from the regular list, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
# majordomo@icomm.ca.  This will not work for the digest version.
# The web pages for the list are at http://www.miskatonic.org/rara-avis/ .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 26 Aug 2003 EDT