Editor’s Notes: The Double opens in limited release today, May 9th.
There were a few ways I could have gone about this. First would have been to document odd choices in books to be adapted. Were I to have done that, Catch 22, The Slaughterhouse Five and The Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy would certainly been on my list. Fortunately, my number one would have remained the same.
What my criteria ended up being was film that took a unique and unconventional approach to their source material, either by substantially transporting it to another time or completely altering the meaning of the text while keeping the central plot mostly intact or working within the spirit of the novel more than actually adapting it. Some of these films bear almost no resemblance to their sources but elements are clear and influential to the films. All of these films fall inside what I deem as ‘modern’ filmmaking, that is 1960 and after. It wasn’t a conscience effort to exclude older films, it’s just that adaptations before the fall of the studio system in Hollywood hewed as closely to their source material as possible so as not to irritate the audience. As time went on, writers and directors started seeing greater story potential in new takes and perspectives on these novels and began experimenting with form and narrative and structure.