I Read It at the Movies by Mark Axelrod. The Follies and Foibles of
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I Read It at the Movies
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I Read It at the Movies

The Follies and Foibles of Screen Adaptation

It’s heard so often that it seems clichéd: "the book was better than the movie." That’s because adapting fiction to the silver screen is hard to do well. Why do some adapted screenplays work while others wilt? What do successful adaptations have in common? And what can the screenwriter learn from unsuccessful attempts to go from page to celluloid? If you’re a writer who needs answers to these questions, this is the book you’re looking for.

In I Read It at the Movies, Mark Axelrod, a veteran screenwriter, fiction writer, and literature...

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It’s heard so often that it seems clichéd: "the book was better than the movie." That’s because adapting fiction to the silver screen is hard to do well. Why do some adapted screenplays work while others wilt? What do successful adaptations have in common? And what can the screenwriter learn from unsuccessful attempts to go from page to celluloid? If you’re a writer who needs answers to these questions, this is the book you’re looking for.

In I Read It at the Movies, Mark Axelrod, a veteran screenwriter, fiction writer, and literature professor, alerts you to the pitfalls that sink poorly written adaptations, describes which writing tools to hone for this kind of work, and tells you exactly how to use them. Axelrod leads you through a close reading of four films made from adapted screenplays—Bladerunner, Death in Venice, Lolita, and The Postman—examining in detail what choices the writer made and whether those choices succeeded. He ultimately leads you to understand why a script devoted to the letter of its source work is less desirable and less likely to be well received than one embodying the originating story’s spirit.

With so many adaptations in today’s theatres, if you’re a working or aspiring screenwriter, you need to know how to get inside a book, find its narrative essence, and extract a well-considered, artful, and entertaining screenplay. With I Read It at the Movies everyone who sees a film you write will say, "It was better than the book!"

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