Month: January 2014

Watchmen Adaptation

Superheroes usually conjure the image of a morally incorruptible savior to the innocent, weak and helpless, but in Alan Moore’s Watchmen the group of superheroes experience inherently human problems in extreme ways making them more flawed then the people they are trying to save. The graphic novel began the franchise and created the world in which the six main superheroes live, starting with The Comedian, Rorschach, Doctor Manhattan, Ozymandias, Night Owl, and Silk Spectre. The setting of the story only breaks from being parallel to the history of the United States after 1938 where the presence of superheroes begins to effect and change the outcome of wars such as the Vietnam War and the presidency of Nixon. The extremely close relationship between the fictional world which the Watchmen inhabit along with their lack of superpowers, with the exception of Dr. Manhattan, allows the audience to identify with these six superheroes and becomes a cautionary tale that even the most powerful and well regarded people can lose themselves to extreme human emotions.

The plot originated in the graphic novel first published by DC Comics in a 12 issue mini series than ran from 1986 to 1987 and the creator, Moore, began with the premise that “if I wrote the substitute characters well enough, so that they seemed familiar in certain ways, certain aspects of them brought back a kind of generic super-hero resonance or familiarity to the reader, then it might work” as he said in an interview with Comic Book Artist in August 2000. This produced the six main superheroes who are all extreme versions of regular people who are motivated by their own flaws which normal people can have. Jamie A. Hughes addresses the implications of having an authentic real world setting for Watchmen in the essay “Who Watches the Watchmen?”: Ideology and “Real World” Superheroes,” published in the 2006 issue of The Journal of Popular Culture. Hughes speaks to the similarities between our world and the world of the Watchmen saying “In many ways, the world of Watchmen is terribly close to our own, and the superheroes who live in it ‘‘exist at the mercy of contingent factors, which limit their actions . . .. The superhero in Watchmen has become just another facet of society’’ which he cites form Reynolds and continues in his own words to say that “These superheroes, unlike those of fantastic worlds and abilities, are completely caught up in ideology…but the brood in Watchmen choose to do it for much more mundane reasons—money, power, fame, or to promote their own ideology” (548). Hughes then goes on to say each each character’s motivation, all which normal people in the audience can associate with, starting with Nite Owl who started from“his desire to correct the ‘‘ethical revulsion’’ that fills him when he is exposed to the underbelly of ‘‘pimps, pornographers, and protection artists’’ prompts him to take more drastic steps to maintain law and order in his city” (548). Hughes sums up this point in saying “Up until this point in the graphic novel, it is easy to see that Moore and Gibbons have created superheroes who are nothing more than individuals caught up in an ideology. (550).

In relation to the significance of the lack of super powers the six main characters have and their placement in a authentic world like the reader’s world Polley says “The human condition, our perpetual being-towards-death, would be less discomfiting if we knew the source of our historical materialism, if we knew exactly who was providing the official cultural narratives by which consciousness is determined” and this he says is the reason Watchmen is a significant graphic novel and literary work. Polley does criticize Watchmen and Moore saying “Watchmen, in other words, would ironically be a stronger, more loving, more human text if it incorporated the conventional closure that fictional representation tyrannically adopts – and that life, in spite of our insistent archetypal, apocalyptic self-positioning, never mirrors,” though other critics see the unfulfilling, lack of a full circle moment as a way to show that in life not everything will work out in the end completely. Polley also speaks about the narration of Rorschach as a way to include the audience in the story further, as many people keep a journal or diary of important moments of their lives. Polley says “The last two chapters feature Rorschach, The Nite Owl, The Silk Spectre, and Dr Manhattan’s combined efforts to quell the faux apocalyptic actions of their former superhero-associate Ozymandias, a retired Watchman renowned as “the world’s smartest man” which foreshadows the plot’s theme that the narrator of a story, which in the case of real life is each individual person who narrates their own life, can sometimes not be reliable.

FILM

Due to the acclaim and reception of the Watchmen graphic novel, a film version of the story was the next step in the growing franchise after several run of the comic were produced, an action figure line was released, and praise from Time Magazine and the Hugo award was received it was the obvious next step. A film version of Watchmen was attempted multiple times since 1986, but due to Moore declining to write the screenplay of his novel’s, it was delayed until Sam Hamm took the challenge up and wrote the screenplay. In the process he changed the original ending into one he believed the audience would find easier to understand involving an assassination and time paradox. The film was then moved from Fox studios to Warner Bros. and more changes were made involving the decision to restore clips from the novel to the film version and have Rorschach narrate the film with his diary. Again the film was dropped and declared un-filmable, and after even more controversy and the film being dropped or sold to other studios Terry Gilliam and Lloyd Levin pitched the film to Warner Bros. again and this time it was picked up in 2005 with the decision to use the comic as a storyboard for the making of the film. While the film was widely received there were many differences between the comic and the adaptation, including the most important exclusion was the subplot of Tales of The Black Freighter and as Moore publicly said in 2008 to Entertainment weekly “There are things that we did with Watchmen that could only work in a comic, and were indeed designed to show off things that other media can’t.” This comment can be seen in effect as the director took over many aspects of the story line and due to the time constrictions of a movie needed to cut out certain details such as The Black Freighter plot and much of the backstories for each character. At one point in prison, Rorschach is shown to change his answer which reveals a lot about the plot and Rorschach himself. In the novel version of this scene Rorschach answers the question “We got a jail full of guys out here who hate your guts. What in hell do you got?” with “Your hands, my pleasure” instead of “Your hands, my perspective.” This new answer makes Rorschach seem more blood thirsty than he actually is and alters his character in a way that makes him seem less in line with the overarching themes of the plot such as different people can fall into different traps and weaknesses are all based on perception. This new answer transforms him into a crazed killer instead of a self-conscious man who has let his past and personal pain overtake him and his life. Another major aspect of the changes in plot is the director leaving out The Black Freighter plot, though the old white man and young black kid are seen at the end of the movie holding each other while the city is lit up in blue. This plot within a plot, not only added depth to the story, but allowed clarity for Ozymandias’ motives and his past regrets. In a dream he shows the similarities between his experiences and those in The Black Freighter which shows that he does have regrets about his past and his actions which makes him human and relatable to the audience. This ties into the exclusion of a lot of the characters backstory which makes it harder for the audience to relate to them and makes them seem a lot less complete shown in Rorschach’s history as he only tells the audience about it when he is talking to a prison psychologist instead of the story going into a flashback when Rorschach is introduced. While the film did leave out a lot of importance traits of the characters leaving them somewhat flat and unrealistic, it still accomplished its goal of remaining true to the novel’s themes of showing the audience how simple human problems can develop into extreme cases of a fatal flaw.

Adaptation

While many major parts of the graphic novel are left out or altered to the point that their essence is changes, the film and the movie both contain the same major theme that even those in power or with talents beyond compare can still fall to simple human emotions, problems, or faults. The most important parts of the Watchmen graphic novel are retained in the film version of the plot which Hughes sums up to be “There is no grand scheme, no great plot where the Minutemen thumb their collective nose at the repressive state. None become superheroes to avenge their dead parents, eradicate tyranny, or bestow justice on the world. These superheroes are perceived by their public much like comic book fans themselves are perceived in our society—as outcasts—albeit a sort that takes some sort of delight in running around with their underwear outside their pants. It is not until the second generation of superheroes (known as the Watchmen) emerge that the connection begins to get hazy and the role of ideology begins to shift” (550). The characters in the film show the same ideals in terms of crime fighting as Hughes states “Although he is of a mindset similar to that of the Comedian, Walter Joseph Kovacs (AKA Rorschach) also shares Ozymandias’ view that society has problems that desperately need correction; however, his vigilante methods are undeniably more stringent than the rest of his compatriots’ (551).” One very symbolic part of a speech by Rorschach is when he is working at a factory and sees a special order dress that was never picked up, because consumers believed the dress to be ugly. He says ‘‘Wrong. Not ugly at all. Black and white. Moving. Changing shape . . . but not mixing. No gray’’ in a volume of the watchmen comic, though this belief is transferred over to the film as Rorschach is shown to be very vulnerable as he sees himself as the same kind of outcast that the dress was shown as. This self-confidence issue and self-conscious though process that Rorschach shows is a very human trait that the audience can easily relate to. For Michael J. Prince this kind of human experience is exactly what Moore’s work is attempting to get at and through the film the novel’s ideas were able to reach more people and were expressed in a way that echoed the novel, while still having made changes. Prince states that “Moore’s work performs this task in two ways, firstly, by presenting a group of diverse ideologically contingent American figures in the individual characters, and secondly, by highlighting a sacrosanct element of America’s image of itself, the primacy of the ‘‘liberal individual’’ not just as an American type but as the naturalized core of the national ethos” (815).

Though the themes are left intact for the most part, the exclusion of The Black Freighter subplot deals a huge blow to the reception of the movie, not only in terms of fans who missed this plot, but also to the ability of the audience to realize that the events seen in Watchmen are parallel to their world and possible in their lives. This can be seen in Ozymandias’ backstory when he has a dream sequence that parallels The Black Freighter storyline which allows the audience to clearly identify the similarities between the two stories and see that Ozymandias also has the human emotions of regret.

While many important details were left out in the film version and the fight sequences were elongated giving them focus instead of the human characteristics of the superheroes the film was able to capture the overall theme of the graphic novel series in a way that Moore would be proud of, though he would still stand by his claim that only the graphic novel is able to give enough attention to the human emotions, backstories, and character development to give the storyline and characters the impact and relevance they deserve. The film and comic series coincided on many important aspects of the story, but most importantly they delivered the message that power does not always equal happiness or peace within oneself and the world they live in. This is what made Watchmen so successful and allowed it to resonate within American popular culture as much as it does to the point that it was the only graphic novel to place on Time Magazines list of 100 best novels. The characters and the themes enacted through them and the realistic setting gave the Watchmen series its critical acclaim and its importance and relevance in modern day America and modern day Americans lives.

Citation

HUGHES, J. A. (2006), “Who Watches the Watchmen?”: Ideology and “Real World” Superheroes. The Journal of Popular Culture, 39: 546–557. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5931.2006.00278.x

POLLEY, J. S. (2013), Watching the Watchmen, Mediating the Mediators. Literature Compass, 10: 593–604. doi: 10.1111/lic3.12076

PRINCE, M. J. (2011), Alan Moore’s America: The Liberal Individual and American Identities in Watchmen. The Journal of Popular Culture, 44: 815–830. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5931.2011.00864.x

Watchmen

  1.  Analysis of the Book

The main premise of this graphic novel series is that even those who seem wonderful and without flaws are human too, which means they are not perfect. The super heroes featured in the graphic novel all have their own strengths which makes them seem flawless and better than regular humans, though this series delves in the super heroes lives and minds to show that they have fears and weaknesses too. Rorschach, for example, has the ability of anonymity through the ever-shifting patterns on his mask and inherently is uncompromising in his thoughts on right and wrong and while these may be good characteristics for a super hero in a perfect world where right and wrong are clear-cut than he would be a perfect hero. His strengths work against him, showing that in a realistic world being super doesn’t mean you’re perfect. This idea of a superhero as a real person in a realistic world shows that even the people who are supposed to be perfect have flaws which culminates in Rorschach’s death.

 

  1. Analysis of the Movie

The Watchmen film uses very graphic and high contrast images to show the vast differences and extremes between all the main characters as well as the high tension times when the plot was set to mimic the tension of a possible Nuclear war. 

The Comedian is both hated and loved by his fellow Watchmen for his complete disregard for all seriousness when coming to matters with high consequences like societal problems from a possible war and his satire and irony become coping mechanisms the same way that Rorschach uses his uncompromising morals to reason with his killing sprees. The movie focuses on giving a realistic experience for the audience to recognize how extreme emotions or being fueled by only one emotion can become an obsessive behavior that becomes dangerous. The realism of the movie, its setting, and its characters is used to show that these kind of extreme situations breed extreme people who are not suitable for everyday existence, social interactions, or living productive and happy lives due to overt amounts of stress.

 

 

  1. Analysis of the Adaptation

The biggest difference between the comic and the film versions of Watchmen was the exclusion of the “Black Freighter” storyline in the film which added immense depth and perspective to the novel as it became a comic within a comic. The gravity of losing this storyline is that it parallels a lot of the events and characters within the Watchmen plot. Specifically for Ozymandias’ backstory and personality since it becomes obvious during one of his dream sequences that the main character and him share their regrets. With this information Ozymandias becomes much more human, relatable, and allows the audience to be empathetic with him instead of lumping him into a purely evil category. The entire lot of the original storyline in the novel and the focus of the film even, is to show that the most powerful people in society can have downfalls and weaknesses and have very human qualities about them which make them weak, and without the clear connection to this subplot in Watchmen Ozymandias loses the ability to be empathized with like the rest of the characters allow the audience to do. While the film shows how powerful people can have weaknesses and flaws and both show the humanity within these superhuman, the “Black Freighter” subplot shows the person behind the villain of the storyline which is necessary to make the world of the Watchmen believable.

 

  1. Research

 

http://filmvsbook.blogspot.com/2011/09/comic-book-vs-film-watchmen.html

This source argues that the symmetry within the layout and drawing of the graphic novel and most importantly the symmetry in the plot hows a pattern that is easy to pick up on for the audience and the repetition is provides unifies the plot and makes its meaning easier to access.

 

http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/watchmen-2009

This source is a review which analyzes the sociopolitical effects of America during the time the novel and film were set in Watchmen and how the real life events effect the the way the plot is received and perceived.

 

http://filmvsbook.blogspot.com/2011/09/comic-book-vs-film-watchmen.html

This source speaks about the realistic setting for which the novel and film take place and how the nihilism and real world events such as the threat of Nuclear war add to the audiences experience. This blog post argues that the real world setting for these characters along with the real world events effect the way the audience relates with the characters and because the readers/watchers can put themselves in the characters positions and imagine living in a world where these threats are present, like a Nuclear war between Russia and the U.S. the audience is more involved with the story and characters. The engagement with the story shows the audience that even these superheroes have problems like regular people.

 

 

  1. Critical Argument

For most, having the Watchmen actually be the superheroes society would rely on for protection does not sound particularly appealing because all of the members of this group are extreme examples of very human problems. The realism expressed with the characters living in an era that people today can still relate to with real world problems such as nuclear war creates the effect that these superheroes could exist in society today, which makes there extreme personalities and flaws even more concerning. The theme of both the novel and the film is that people with immense power can still fall into the same fears and weaknesses that regular people can which is why its is no important that the characters are just extreme examples of very human emotions like The Comedian being a nihilistic approach to problems showing that he has lost hope, Rorschach represents people who are uncompromising in their beliefs to the point that they are always agitated and hazardous, Dr. Manhattan is the loss of self-worth which results in his being a puppet for the government for most of the film, Ozymandias is uncompromising like Rorschach, but due to a superiority complex making him think he knows what is best for everyone and Silk Spector is the feminist woman who wants to stand up for herself, but stays in a relationship where she is devalued showing a lack of self confidence. All these emotions and feelings are ingrained in the human experience though each character is fueled by one emotion in the extreme, making them all very dangerous people to have power and ultimately not super suitable superheroes.

Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban

  1. Analysis of the book

Through the story many of the main characters begin to surprise the audience with choices that seem ill-fitting to their character and present a new side of each person to not simply be the good girl as in Hermione’s case, or the noble teacher as in Lupin’s case. The main characters in this novel show a duality to themselves that makes their personalities more relatable as each person reading the novel can find times in their lives that correspond to making a different decision than they normally would have or to shock a friend or family member with an action that seems to be against the narrow minded label they were presented with before as in Hermione’s case. Hermione through the first two books had been seen simply as the good girl who studied hard, never got into trouble unless she was trying to save her more impulsive friends and the one who was able to get others out of situations they couldn’t handle through her smarts. In this book that begins to change though as Hermione starts to beak the rules, disappear for periods of time without telling her friends and skips class, all of which are completely unlike her. This shows a duality to her because she can both be the good girl and the rule breaker while being true to herself, as is shown in many other characters like Lupin who is a good hearted teacher by day and a monstrous werewolf at night.

 

  1. Analysis of the film

Through the changing relationships between characters the director of The Prisoner of Azkaban was able to show how each character is growing up while showing the severity of the danger the three main characters are and will be in. The three main characters, Harry, Ron and Hermione broke wizarding rules before in the first two films, but now Hermione is the worst of the three of them in not following the rules as she jumps through time to take extra classes. Accompanied with this she is asserting herself more instead of allowing Harry and Ron to be the ones who stand up for themselves more. She shows this most prevalently in the scene where she yells at Draco Malfoy then punches him. Ron also shows his growth, though he does this through his emotions as he is more susceptible to being hurt, such as when Hermione seems to have no time to hang out with him or Harry anymore and as a result he doesn’t defend her from Snape’s rude comments about Hermione. Professor Snape says “That is the second time you have spoken out of turn, Miss Granger. Tell me, are you incapable of restraining yourself, or do you take pride in being an insufferable know-it-all?” to which Ron replies “He’s got a point, you know.” He agrees because he is hurt that Hermione seems to never have time for them anymore which shows his growing feelings for them. Harry also shows his growth in this film as his temper gets worse and he threatens to kill Lupis on the assumption that he betrayed Harry’s parents in the past, which he never would have done before, but due to the stress of his situation Harry is becoming a more extreme person. Harry is realizing the severity of the situation he is in and is now dealing with the trauma of losing his parents in a way he never could before, as he had to focus on surviving whereas now he has a solid foundation built on friends and school. This entire film is about time and dealing with the past and present and helping your future to be brights all while dealing with the pains of growing up.

 

 

  1. Analysis of the adaptation

Between the book and the film many smaller plot details were left out, though the biggest differences lie in character development such as the romance between Ron and Hermione and the exclusion of important information about Lupin’s past as well as some smaller details about Harry’s parents which are important later on. The theme of time is the where the most important similarities lie though as both the book and the film focus on the importance of time with Hermione’s time traveling to be in multiple places at once and through al the information learned about Harry’s parents and their friends. The focus on time adds to the peril the main trio faces during this movie as many of their near death experiences end with them being saved in the nick of time. The overarching theme of time also gives the novel and film an added sense of danger as

the characters and the audience learn more about the sinister nature of Harry’s parents past, the people who betrayed them, and how dangerous the situations are for Harry, Ron and Hermione. Both the movie and the film were able to convey the severity of the situations that the trio are in all through time whether it be through past experiences and memories, reconfiguring present time, or trying to prevent future atrocities.

 

  1. Online research

http://www.the-leaky-cauldron.org/films/3/differences-5

This source lists and analyzes the differences between The Prisoner of Azkaban book and film.

 

http://filmvsbook.blogspot.com/2011/06/harry-potter-prisoner-of-azkaban-book.html

This source goes in to depth on the differences between the characters from the novel to the film.

 

http://www.beyondhogwarts.com/harry-potter/articles/foreshadowings-in-prisoner-of-azkaban.html

This source focuses mainly on the foreshadowing in The Prisoner of Azkaban and the darker events that will occur in the next films. It specifically discusses Draco Malfoy’s growing contempt for Harry, Hermione and Ron as well as expands the plot beyond just the main trio. The expansion of the world creates a better picture for the audience to understand that the fight against Voldemort is not just Harry’s and is a real threat which makes the fight against evil have much more weight. The growth in characters and the expansion of the wizarding world allows the story to become darker in a way that pulls the audience in and believe that the trio is growing up and facing much more trouble than they were before.

 

 

  1. Critical Argument

Going along with the major theme of time in the third installment of the novel and film franchise Harry, Ron, and Hermione begin to grow up before the audiences eyes t lead the plot in a darker direction through Harry’s temper and leap to more extreme actions, Ron’s growing feelings for Hermione, and Hermione’s willingness to grow past the label of good girl to break the rules for what she knows is right. Harry is predicted to die very early on in the film and novel which creates a sense of urgency to learn new more powerful spells for defense and also for offense in case of an attack while more importantly giving Harry an tangible sense of mortality, Now Harry is not only being hunted by Voldemort, he is foreseen to die. This hardens Harry in a noticeable way as his actions and reactions become much more extreme and hostile, like his The death of Buckbeak is also a foreshadowing to Harry’s own death and watching the execution makes the plot darker by the second, though when it is reversed through time travel it shows hope for Harry. He is also shown to become more extreme when he believes Lupin was responsible for the murder of his parents and declares that he will kill Lupin for what he did, though he shows a more mature and logical side when he tells Lupin and Black to hand Pettigrew over to the Ministry of Magic instead of killing him. In the first two novels and films, especially the first, Hermione was much more willing to sacrifice what she knew to be the right course of action, if she knew it was dangerous or could be construed as breaking the rules and would lead to her getting in trouble. In the third film and novel Hermione is shown to be the one breaking most of the rules through her frenetic skipping class and sudden disappearances from her friends. The two most important things to her, her studies and her friends, are being put on the back-burner for something else, which is her new discovery of time travel. While she is using time travel for good, it can be construed as a way to cheat the system and give oneself extra time to do the things they need to do, while everyone else must prioritize and make time. The younger Hermione would never want to even be considered to be cheating the rules and would steer clear of anything that could even possibly incriminate her. Ron is also shown to be growing up and leading the plot into a more mature direction as he develops feelings for Hermione and becomes increasingly awkward around members of the opposite sex and competitive with Harry for female attention.

A Scanner Darkly

  1. Analysis of the book

For Arctor the main character in A Scanner Darkly his existence is always in questions, mostly by himself. After taking large amounts of drugs he cannot remember who he is and is left schizophrenic which shows his attempt to escape himself. Because Arctor is himself a drug addict and then plays the drug enforcement officer set to monitor Arctor he starts to lose himself to the drug culture and leads him to paranoia. The loss of self is  the major theme of this novel as most of the drug addicts suffer from paranoia and lack the skills to be self-sufficient without drugs.

 

  1. Analysis of the film

The film version of A Scanner Darkly presents the celebrity populated world of Arctor who all have problems of their own through the actors they chose to play each character. Each character has had issues within the functional society of Hollywood which makes them all fitting for these off the chart roles as drug addicts. The choice to make this movie animated also adds tremendously to the films ability to animate the reactions of each character to the drugs and the altered state of mind the experience because of it. It is able to use the interpolated rotoscope to create an feeling of unease for the audience as the novel was able to create through its words, and this kind of off feeling would not have been so effectively done if it were real life people since dim lighting and special effects would only lead to confusion for the audience and a break from the realistic setting of the novel while an animated version can draw in whatever they please and because everything is made of the same material it creates a cohesive world.

 

  1. Analysis of the adaptation

The use of celebrities in the world of A Scanner Darkly not only presents the everyday drug addicts of the novel world, but updates the timeframe to include celebrities of today like Robert Downey Jr., Winona Ryder, and Keanu Reeves and capitalizes on their parts in the film playing the characters, while also commenting on some of the issues they have had in real life, like Robert Downey Jr.’s behavior problems and outlandish ways. The mentioning of New-Path and Substance D is also accelerated which takes away some of the mystery of the novel, while creating a lingering feeling of unsureness throughout the film. They are both able to show the split between ones self in the functional world and ones drug-self.

 

  1. Online research

http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2012/dec/17/philip-k-dick-a-scanner-darkly

This source talks about the differences between California lifestyles and that of the characters the novel portrays. It also says how Arctor grows insane due to his suburban existence. 

 

http://guysalvidge.wordpress.com/2010/03/26/book-review-a-scanner-darkly-by-philip-k-dick/

This source focuses on A Scanner Darkly in comparison to Philip K. Dick’s other novels and how this fits into the style he created. It also says that this novel is almost all biographical.

 

http://www.writewords.org.uk/archive/15561.asp

This source focuses on how philosophical questions of life, death, and will come into play for the characters of the film and novel. It cites personal identity and consciousness and the loss of these two to madness as the main fear people develop. Therefore the characters in the novel who are drug addicts are attempting to flee the loss of their identity via insanity through the use of drugs since it is there choice to do drugs, but would not be if they were insane, and also provides them an excuse for their erratic behavior instead of just have a mental issue.

 

5.Critical argument 

The fear of oneself is most evident in both the film and book and through the flower which is used to create Substance D, Mors Ontologica, the characters who abuse this drug and how they attempt to escape the reality of who they are by destroying who they are with Substance D. The most prevalent case of this destroyer of self is Arctor who is a drug addict and begins to lose himself to Substance D, especially when he is assigned to monitor himself under the guise of his police officer name Fred. The split between himself comes from the fact that the drug user is paranoid of the officer who can enforce the law and force the user to stop drugs while reprimanding them, while the officer is also afraid of the user who threatens society, social norms, and innocent people all of which officers are charged with protecting. This split within ones self create the paranoia seen through Arctor and his inability to reconcile himself between these two completely different personalities and lifestyles so he is left with the fear of himself, which he can never escape. This kind of fragmentation is supposed to mirror the split between the government and the people during this time as the 60s and 70s drug era began to create the idea that the people were criminals to the government for breaking the law and citizens believed the government was merely searching for people to punish because they were harsh. Both entities, the citizens and the government, are symbiotic and need each other to survive, much like Arctor.

No Country For Old Men

  1. Analysis of the book

Through the three main characters of this novel, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, Anton Chigurh, and Llewelyn Moss, Cormac McCarthy produces a novel about morality and pride. Each character represents a different peg on the ladder of morality starting with  Bell at the top and Chigurh at the bottom. Bell is an officer fueled by a moral compass and an ability to see when he is in over his head, while Moss is an ordinary man whose desire for wealth and power leads him to his death as a ring of drug dealers try to steal the money back that he found, with Chigurh being the least moral as he is a ruthless killer who decides to murder on impulse or a coin flip. With the morality of the characters always in question this becomes the center of the novel, and as such pride is right behind it as some characters can’t see their role in a larger immoral scheme.

 

  1. Analysis of the film

Through the focus on the morally indecisive Moss, the film reals in the audience to go through Moss’ decisions. The first decision Moss is shown to make is that of taking the money from a drug deal gone bad which is the catalyst for the rest of the plot. With Moss’ morality in question, the rest of his decisions can either complicate or help solve this predicament he got himself into. With Moss in the middle of the moral sheriff Bell and the immoral killer Chigurh, Moss stands in for the audience who struggles with moral decisions in their everyday life. The film also focuses around the theme of elders becoming outdated and their ways of thinking dying along with them as new beliefs and waves of trends flooding the modern day shown when the sheriff in El Paso says “kids with green hair and bones in their noses.” This kind of attitude that is seen as separate from modern day thinking can be construed as a prideful way of thought since some elders, like Moss, believe themselves to be smarter, faster and better than others due to their previous experience which is part of the reason Moss makes sure poor decisions and hubris. 

 

  1. Analysis of the adaptation

The focus of the film shifts the one from the book unto Moss instead of having all three characters be protagonists that are focused on equally. The move from Bell to Moss becomes a move for the audience to decide what is and is not moral. Bell shows himself to be inherently more moral than Moss as he follows the clear compass of an officer during his role in the novel and is able to recognize his role in the larger scheme of the crime and that he and Moss are in over their heads because he is not as prideful as Moss. The move to focus on Moss is one that allows the audience to see a moral struggle that they can relate to through personal experience, as it is hard to find someone whose motivations are so clear-cut in the right direction. As Moss struggles with the decision and repercussions of taking the money after he found the scene of a drug deal gone bad. Bell tries to warn Moss of his hubris and that in this case, he is in over his head, but it is too late and because of this the audience is able to struggle through the moral decisions of Moss in the movie than if the entire film was narrated my Bell as the book was. 

 

 

  1. Online research

http://tommygirard.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/no-country-for-old-men-book-and-film-reviewcomparison/

This source speaks to the shift of the focus of characters from the book to the movie. The wordpress blog’s author says that the change from Bell to Moss hugely influences the plot. 

 

http://www.rogerebert.com/scanners/no-country-for-old-men-out-in-all-that-dark

This source describes the message of the movie as having each person decide their own fate through a series of choices that is like a coin toss of the outcome.

 

http://arbitrarynonsense.com/2012/08/08/no-country-for-old-men-ending-explanation/

According to this source the main message of the movie and novel is a sort of coming of age tale in which the audience is cautioned to make a move from outdated beliefs to the more eternal spiritual and religious beliefs that many people grab hold of in their elder years. It also suggests that Chigurh, Moss, and Bell are all representative of the different sides of the same person, only in extremes.

 

  1. Critical Argument

A landscape can be more than just a physical arena in which events take place and just like this word has a dual meaning so can the word “country” in reference to the novel and film No Country for Old Men. When this phrase is said in reference to the characters of the film and novel it is saying that these older men no longer have a physical use for them in the society where they live just as much as their outdated ideas are being pushed out and turned irrelevant. This is why they are outsmarted and outmatched by the drug dealers, the ‘bad guys’ who in typical action movies succumb to the power of good in one way or another, while in this plot they overtake the older men. One of the most powerful lines in this film comes from Chigurh in the form of a question as he asks “If the rule you followed brought you to this, of what use was the rule?” which shows that the physically and morally dangerous place the drug crime scene landed Bell, Chigurh, and Moss in is the result of following the rules of their outdated pride and beliefs than are they are not good social and moral rules to follow. The three main characters Bell, Chigurh, and Moss come to symbolize three components of the same person who are conceived through different decisions resulting in the three characters portrayed. Through their individual actions and different moral laws they follow Bell is the moral sheriff on the side of the law and justice who tries to protect Moss, while Chigurh is his complete opposite and Moss is caught in the middle.

These three different kinds of men all end up in the same situation because they are all following outdated laws and moral codes which leads them to this situation. They need to adopt some aspects of each other to be balanced and able to live successfully in the world in which they live.

Treatment

TROPIC OF ORANGE BY KAREN TEI YAMASHITA

 

1. Concept

In an apocalyptic take on immigration Karen Tei Yamashita’ s Tropic of Orange focuses on a single week from the perspective of six different people living in Los Angeles. The plot begins with Rafaela supervising the construction of the Chicano journalist Gabriel’s house in Mexico. From here Rafaela and the rest of the world sees poisonous oranges from Mexico flood into America and kill many citizens, even causing a riot that shut down the Harbor Freeway in Los Angeles. The shut down leads to a shoot out in which the National Guard is called in to restore order, while Emi, a TV producer and Gabriel’s girlfriend, films the violence. At the same time that Emi is covering this violence, Gabriel is tracking a group of people who are selling body parts to rich Angelenos, and Bobby Rafaela’s Chinese husband tries to help and illegal immigrant, and an honorable social reformist who lives in the ghettos, Buzzworm becomes a TV sensation. Another character is the homeless Manzanar who pretends to conduct traffic as a maestro would lead an orchestra. One of the most symbolic characters is Archangel who is immortal and though he has seen many events over his long life, during the time all this is taking place is fighting SUPERNAFTA in a wrestling match.

The entire plot is spaced into a week and divided by the days of the week going in sequential order from Monday to Sunday. The chapters have the day of week as its title, but each character also splits the novel into their own title and subtitle which corresponds with their personality and focus for that day. Emi’s life, for example, revolves around TV so all the headings for her chapters deal with different times of the day and the subheading deal with different programs that come on at different time of the day.

In a world where people are most concerned with their own everyday lives and the past experiences which fuel their concerns it becomes apparent that the theme of the novel is creating a multicultural civilization where each person can feel at home in their own skin. The theme of time is also explored as a social construct since each character measures their day and lives in different methods such as Bobby’s financial success compared to Emi’s personal success with television.

 

  1. Characters

With no one main character, each of the seven main characters bring their own understanding of the world around them to the novel, with Archangel symbolizing the past, present, and future eons of time. All the novel’s characters seek to bridge the gap between their personal past and cultural past. 

 

Emi- A news reporter. Dating Gabriel. Her parents are Japanese immigrants. As a TV producer she is always watching TV and her life revolves around its scheduling, which is reflected in her sections.

Bobby- As chinese immigrant sent by his father at a young age to make something of himself, Bobby began a life with his wife Rafaela and had a child named Sol together. All his life he has had to support others, by paying for his little brother’s college, sending money back to his father in China and now through the care taking of his wife and son. Due to all his responsibility he realizes that his ability to provide comes down to how much money he has and now he is concerned primarily with money and how he will pay his various bills. All his chapters are divided into different bills he has to pay and are labeled as such.

Rafaela Cortez- A woman who is entrusted with overseeing Gabriel’s farm in Mexico with her son Sol. She is married to Bobby who is the father of her son, and while his chapters are concerned money, hers are all focused around the time of day and the place of the sun in the sky since she is the most attuned to nature.

Gabriel Balboa – A newspaper editor who tries to fight social injustice through his reporting, and is consumed with work. He titles his chapters in relation to his work such as Friday being titled Overtime.

Buzzworm- A black social reformist who lives in the ghettos and tries to uplift the people there. He arranges his sections by what he is listening to at the time.

Archangel- An immortal being whose time is spaced differently then the rest of the characters. Some of his sections of chapters are unrecognizable as an entire day or mere moments passing. The thoughts he expresses in his sections are much more broad than the rest of the characters who are concerned with their day to day lives. At one point he is shown to use superhuman strength to physically close the gap between the Tropic of Cancer and Los Angeles by picking up the Tropic of Cancer and pulling it to Los Angeles. His sections are titled by actions performed in a day such as Monday: To Wake, Tuesday: To Wash, Wednesday: To Eat, Thursday: To Labor, Friday: To Dream, Saturday: To Perform, and Sunday: To Die.

Manzanar- A homeless man who pretends to conduct traffic, especially in the case of the backup and riot on the Harbor Freeway in Los Angeles, as if it was a symphony. Every section he is in expresses concern with the time of day and what that means for the current traffic patterns.

 

  1. Themes

Through all these different characters and their backstories the theme of culture and race is ever present in the plot of The Tropic of Orange. The idea of transnationalism is one of the main themes in this novel and through the advancement of technology each one of the characters escape through some form of it. It serves as a uniting principle for all the characters of different backgrounds, though it is not necessarily a good way for them to connect since technology is breaking the emotional bonds of people for each other and turning them to feel for the economy and the capitalistic system. This can be seen in the way the characters organize their days and overall week as in Emi’s obsession with television, Buzzworm’s categorizing his day through songs that come on his walkman, and Manzanar’s organizing his day due to traffic patterns made up by cars.

The theme of time as a social construct is also at the heart of this novel as each character measures their day using a different unit of measurement, all of which are different from the conventional use of minutes and hours from a clock. This is a more fitting way for the characters to unite and is spoken about by Archangel who is impervious to time as he is immortal. In the fight with SUPERNAFTA who says that technology is what unites people because this kind of advancement bridges time, Archangel responds with saying that there is no aging in the passing of time, just changing and that through this change people can change together without relying on outside forces such as technology or consumerism.

 

  1. Locations

The film will be shot primarily in Los Angeles, with some scenes being produced in Mexico to foil the business of the California city. The city of Los Angeles will be broken down depending on the character and where they inhabit. Many places in L.A. are mentioned such as Manzanar while he is stuck in a traffic jam such as U.S.C., Forum, The Greek, and Hollywood Bowl. Buzzworm will show the more undesirable places of L.A., Rafaela will serve as the bridge between the Tropic of Cancer, Mexico, and the United States, Gabriel will show the rich areas exclusive to high society part of L.A., Bobby will show the financially struggling working class who focuses on bills for his home and family more then going out for fun, Manzanar will show the on-the-go business man who travels various roads to work, Emi will show the behind the scenes television influences which seep into the homes of every citizen on L.A., and most importantly Archangel will show not necessarily a place, but the location of people within the span of time through his thoughts of hundreds of years before the story takes place to in the moment thoughts.

The scenes in Mexico and The Tropic of Cancer will be sparse, but both are necessary for the film. The scenes in Mexico will show an expansive field with a well kept house that is Gabriel’s and the scenes filmed here must show the time of day through natural progressions of the sun, with the sun being high in the sky during Rafaela’s first chapter titled Midday and peaking through the sky in the section for Friday titled Dawn. 

The city of Los Angeles will be explored through the different characters and their different social standings. Since there are so many different locations some will be cut and replaced with the character telling another major character or friend what happened, such as when Bobby had to go to Tijuana, Mexico.

 

  1. Action Scene

Cars stopped one behind the other like dominoes which were falling against one another. Red tail lights lit up the highway and told each and every car on the Harbor Freeway to stop, that there was no more road to travel, and no farther anyone could go.

A sudden explosion had every driver, back-seat driver and passenger running down the road that looped itself through the city. There were panicked people everywhere. Then there was Buzzworm. He took control over the situation as best he could. After yelling at a camera man filming the madness then shoving a boom into his face for a scream that Buzzworm would not allow to escape, Buzzworm pushed the camera man into a van with Emi. Buzzworm wanted to get out of the craziness. He gunned it. Screeching through the swarm of uncontrolled and unmitigated madness, he mad the mistake of looking in the rear view mirror and saw how out of control the situation had become. Helicopters were flying over the parked cars. It seemed as if the blades chopping through the air, could not cut the sound of panic and Buzzworm was surprised the helicopter could stay in the air since it seemed so dense with panic.

Buzzworm made a second mistake and looked at the passengers seat where Emi sat bleeding and astounded at all the action around her. Buzzworm just shook his head a bit at her unrelenting and abhorring dedication to her job and floored it. She must have seen his expression, because not long after Buzzworm’s sideward glance Emi’s eyes began to water and the pain hit her. All of a sudden it became clear to Emi that this was not something that she was producing and in control of, that it was not something so removed as one of her daily shows that she could turn off, but that the flashing lights and screams were all around her and continuously were penetrating her mind and her wound. It was not something she could turn off, or that anyone could turn off.

The rear tire blew and Emi was suddenly in Buzzworm’s arms as he dashed through explosions and a hailstorm of bullets. Through a fizzled explosions smoke, Buzzworm looked behind him to see the military marching through. He grabbed Emi’s bloody hand, pulled her into his arms and ran.

 

  1. Dialogue Scene

47: To Die – Pacific Rim Auditorium

 

Archangel: Ladies and Gentlemen! Welcome to the Pacific Rim Auditorium here at the very Borders. It’s the Ultimate Wrestling Chammmpppionnnnshhhippp! El Contrato Con America. Sponsored by a generous grant from the Ministry of Multicultures. Brought to you by the CIA, the PRI, the DEA, and the INS…”

(A murmur ran through the audience)

“Of Course the fight’s not fixed Why would anyone want to do a thing like that?”

(sighs of relief and snickers)

“Today ladies and Gentlemen, witness the battle of two of the world’s greatest fighters: SUUUPERRRRRNAFFFFFTAAAAA.”

(A great boo flooded the auditorium)

“and ELLLLLLL GGRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAANNNN MOOOJAAAADOOOO!”

(Cheers)

“But first, let’s meet and talk to the challenger and the champion before the battle begins”

(The audience turns to look the screen where both the challenger and champion will be displayed)

Supernafta: Today, my fight represents a challenge, not only to that Big Wetback,” he spit, “in the other corner, but to all the children of the world. TO that multicultural rainbow of kids out there. Kids, this is your challenge too. And the challenge is this: It’s the future. And what’s the future? Well, isn’t it what everyone really wants? It’s a piece of action. How about twelve percent?…Some people don’t want progress. Ny opponent doesn’t want progress. He doesn’t care about the future of all you wonderful kids. He thinks you ought to fun across the border and pick grapes. Think about it before any of you can be truly free, you need enough money to do what you want.”

(Half the crowed changed its boos to cheers for Supernafta)

El Gran Mojado: Noble people, I speak to you from the heart. There is no future of past. You all know that I am a witness to this. There is no aging. There is only changing. What can this progress my challenger speaks of really be? You who live in the declining and abandoned places of great cities, called barrios, ghettos, and favelas: What is archaic? What is modern? We are both. The myth of the first world is that development is wealth and technology progress. It is all rubbish. It means that you are no longer human beings but only labor. It means that the land you live on it not earth, but only property. It means that what you produce with your own hands is not yours to eat or wear or shelter you if you cannot buy it.”

 

  1. Pitch

In a country often called the melting pot, America is home to a spectrum of different cultures and people from all around the world. Though it is called a melting pot, America is more of a salad bowl with different types of people all living in the same country, the same bowl, but who are still distinguishable from other people and are able to be picked out due to ethnicity or cultural practices like a tomato could be picked out from the cucumbers and lettuce. With this new image in mind a film like this which uses magical realism to show the way different cultures interact within the same country in different ways. The characters in this movie are of all different nationalities, generation, and ethnicities making them a working example of how our country works, with the added benefit of magical events to keep the audience entertained and focused, while turning the magnifying lens onto a situation without it being so far fetched from reality that no one believes the problem could even exist let alone the situation. Through the magical events such as Archangels’ immortality, his pulling the Tropic of Cancer literally to Los Angeles and the poisonousness oranges causing the riots in Los Angeles the audience already understands that this world allows magic so the fight between El Gran Mojado and SUPERNAFTA makes sense and can point out in an exaggerated way, how consumer and capitalist economies marginalize minorities. The plot is interesting and divided in a way that will capture economically minded audiences, politically minded audiences, socially minded audiences, and those who like action. Tropic of Orange is a highly visual novel that focuses on knowing various locations in Los Angeles and the relation between this city and the Tropic of Cancer to understand their relationship. Also the riot scenes on the Harbor Freeway in Los Angeles is a scene that relies hugely on action and the ability of the reader to put themselves in Buzzworm’s situation and visualize the panic and chaos that is brought to Los Angeles through the lack of transnationalism and the complete drive of consumerism, making this a scene with huge big screen visual impact.

 

*Apendix

Harbor Freeway

 ImageImage

Adaption

  1. Analysis of the Book

The novel The Orchid Thief focuses on people passions and obsessions for things or a person. The main focus of the novel is Laroche who completely delves into whatever last captured his attention, tuning out everything else. The latest indulgence is on Orchids and now he has attracted the attention of the police and Orlean who is experimenting with the new journalism technique where the writer lives the life of their subjects and so Orlean becomes passionate about her writing and about Laroche as her subject. Both of these passions fizzle out abruptly after Laroche was caught stealing orchids then abandoned his old passion for a new online porn business and since her subject gave up abruptly on the topic that made her interested in him, Orlean lost her passion abruptly as well. Both these fizzled passions point to the indulgence of a passion to the point of obsession creating a void in a person’s life when it is no longer fulfilling or accessible.

 

  1. Analysis of the Film

The focus of the film is on Charlie Kauffman who is writing the film version of the novel The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean, but is not having any success. Charlie struggles with his twin brother’s success in all the areas that Charlie is failing at and through the movie it becomes clear that Donald is the foil to Charlie through Donald’s ability to speak with women without any difficulty while Charlie cannot ask a woman out due to his fear of rejection, as well as Donald’s success in the movie industry with the recycled plot of his horror story while Charlie struggles to write Adaptation. The addition of Donald and his having all the attributes which Charlie lacks, combined with their physical similarities of being twins creates the perception that they are one person split into two bodies. The movie ends with Donald’s death and symbolizes Charlie becoming a full person again, since he is now able to ask out a woman he has liked for a while and now has no problem asking her for a date and finishes his screenplay.

 

  1. Analysis of the Adaptation

Between the change from the novel The Orchid Thief to the movie Adaptation the passion of the characters was kept alive, however the main difference between the two works is that the novel is about Orlean’s experiences writing the novel, while the movie is about Kauffman’s experiences writing the script. With these two major differences come plot changes, additional characters, and fictitious events all separate from the novel. In this way the film becomes a meta film about a man writing a film about a woman writing about writing a book, and with all the characters who created the story within the film, the plot becomes even more intricate. While the film attempts to organize a novel with little forward momentum into a fluid and progressive film, the different plot lines between the Kauffman brothers and Orlean and Larchoe’s relationship allow for the film to allow the characters to progress and grow beyond what the novel allows, best seen in Charlie who gain the characteristics of his brother after he dies and is able to do things he couldn’t before like ask women out. As for the other characters like Orlean ending in which she dies and Laroche’s in which he gives up his passion for orchids show that the focus was always supposed to be on Charlie’s journey while he wrestled with the film.

 

 

  1. Research

http://www.susanorlean.com/articles/orchid_fever.html

This source is a review on the novel combined with historical information on the Victorian hobby of horticulture and how it relates to the practice of orchard farming. The source also comments on John Laroche’s obsession for collecting all different types of orchids and how this unrequited love for the flower will be something he chases until death.

 

http://threegeek.blogspot.com/2008/05/orchid-thief-vs-adaptation-jeremiah.html

This blog focuses on the differences between the original source, The Orchid Thief and the movie Adaptation. While passion is evident in both works, the passion of the Kauffman brothers and of Orlean and Laroche in each of their respective relationships distracts the audience from seeing that the plot is becoming exactly what Charlie was cautioning against a formulaic film.

 

http://textblock.blogspot.com/2009/10/book-vs-film-orchid-thief-adaptation.html

This blog focuses on the movie Adaptation and how the relationships between Susan and Laroche show how passion can be overwhelming. The source also talks about how Donald and Charlie are foils to each other and through Charlie’s insufficiency compared to Donald, Charlie is forced to go on this adventure with Orlean and Laroche leading to Donald’s death. The insufficiency in terms of social skills and writing skills compared to Donald, leads Charlie to look to an outside source for help in writing his screen play and when he runs into Susan he looks to her, though this almost leads to his death and his brother does die. It also shows how since Charlie allowed his passion to get ahold of him it cause him a lot of trouble, but since he was able to put himself back together again he was able to succeed, while Susan was left disappointed. 

 

  1. Critical Argument

The ability for a person to indulge in one particular passion has the ability to make their life fulfilling, or in the case of the characters of Adaptation and The Orchid Thief leave them deflated and disappointed especially in the cases of Susan and Charlie within their writing. For both Susan her subject, Laroche, starts out as a kind of case study with whom she would spend time with to advance her journalistic work, but then fell in love with him, breaking the cardinal rule of journalism to not get personally involved with subjects. Her passion for people with a passion leads her to admire Laroche’s dedication to his passion of stealing orchids and so Susan is caught up in Laroche’s single-mindedness and desire to be the best, instead of falling in love with him as a person. At the end of the movie she is left subjectless as Laroche gives up on his passion of orchids due to being caught stealing them and puts himself completely into an online porn business. While Charlie is invested in his screenplay he recognizes the bigger picture and that while his brother was successful, he was not creative in anyway with his work and merely catered to the market instead of following his passion as Charlie does. While Susan also follows her passion she gets caught up in her subject, Laroche and is too wrapped up in him to recognize that her work and life are suffering because of her attachment, while Charlie is able to detach himself from the subjects of his movie, Susan and Laroche, recognize that they are poor influences after he sees them doing drugs and they try to kill him and make the best of his brother’s death by adopting the traits which made him successful while staying true to himself. The differences between Susan and Charlie are cast, but most importantly Charlie recognized when his passion for his work went too far and for the sake of himself and his work was able to better himself in order to further his project, not become overly attached to its subject in order to further his work.