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.

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3 comments

  1. I agree that the adaptation changed the plot which caused more characters to come about and such, but I find that their ability to progress is a bit irrelevant. Charlie’s character wasn’t included in the novel, so when it comes to the adaptation I would say that his character’s progression doesn’t really matter.

  2. Would you say that Susan stopped falling in love with Laroche after he changes projects? The viewer does see that once he changes projects, she does get thrown off a bit, but they still continue to manage their relationship (even though she is cheating on her husband with Laroche). Instead of saying that Susan fell in love with Laroche’s passion of orchids, is it more so that she fell in love with just his ability to be so passionate about one thing?

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