Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Novella Runs Through It


I just finished reading I Am Legend, the novella on which the Will Smith movie is loosely based. It's a brilliant (and influential) short story, especially considering it was written 55 years ago -- before the surfeit of vampire-ness in books and movies.

Not that I am Legend is a great movie, but it got me thinking about how the best adapted screenplays are often based on short stories rather than novels. I guess a full-length novel is simply too long and complex to squeeze into a two-hour movie, and it always leaves the viewer (and the reader, if he's read the book) feeling like something's missing.

Here are just a few noteworthy movies I can think of that were based on short stories or novellas: The Shawshank Redemption (Stephen King), Stand by Me (Stephen King), Brokeback Mountain (Annie Proulx), A River Runs Through It (Norman Maclean), Apocalypse Now (Joseph Conrad).

Occasionally, a full-length novel spawns a movie that is as good or better than the book. One such movie is The Silence of the Lambs. Can you think of any others?

5 comments:

  1. The Lord of the Rings!

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  2. I think these are technically novels (I wouldn't know because I only saw the movies I admit- I promise to read your book though Brian!) The Godfather, The Color Purple, and Schindler's List- All great movies. One of my favorites (guess why...) is technically a children's novel: The Wizard of Oz.
    That counts, right?!

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  3. Charlotte's Web and the Notebook. Two of my favorites...

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  4. Is Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil considered a novel? If so, this is one of the best examples I can think of. Is the size alone what constitutes a novel or is the content that's covered within the book?

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  5. Kris,

    Yep, Midnight in the Garden... is a novel. It's basically just word count that classifies a work as a novel or novella. Novella is usually 20-50K words; a novel is anything longer than 50K.

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