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Beyond Pandora

Beyond simple curiosity, this is Thinking Too Much. If you're interested in philosophy and/or wild theories, you've come to the right place.

Location: Australia

Paddling somewhere between a mad scientist and an organisational artist. Indecisive, inconsistent and often incoherent.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Puzzling over Adaption

As a test run for my now-working DVD drive (yay!), I found myself watching 'Adaption', having no idea what it was about. But even as the ending credits were rolling past, I was still trying to do just that.

Having a look at Charlie Kaufman (the writer)'s other movies, though, I'm not surprised. The two other movies of his that I've seen are 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind', and 'Being John Malkovich'. With that in mind, I've come to the conclusion that his screenplays are successful because he artistically confuses the hell out of his audience.

'Eternal Sunshine' deals with a portion of a guy's memory being erased while he is re-living it in reverse. If you're confused by that sentence then I've proved my point.

In 'Being John Malkovich' and 'Adaption', the confusion is supplied by seamlessly blending fantasy with reality. There are places and situations shown that are real, there are those that are realistic representations of actual situations, there are situations that pretend to be realistic representations of actual situations, and pushing further along that line we end up in a world of fantasy - and we can't quite point out where the crossover took place.

How much of John Malkovich, the character, was pulled directly from John Malkovich, the person, and how much was made up? (And what is it like to perform as yourself, or as a realistic version of yourself?)

How much of Adaption actually happened? The screenplay is based upon a book which is based upon an actual person, and the writer of the screenplay, the author of the book, and the actual person are all characters in the movie. How can you tell if the story actually happened, if it is based on reality, or completely made up? At least we can be sure the actors aren't playing themselves (imagine the mess if all three people had been hired to act as themselves!).

All in all, it's a very sneaky way of getting an audience interested in a subject - by making it a challenge to pick apart fact from fiction.

I know I'll be hunting down that book, even if I don't read it!

Meanwhile, I'll also be keeping an eye out for Charlie's other movies.


Blogger Violet said...

I think he's the guy responsible for 'Human Nature' which is weird but also utterly ludicrous.

8:51 am  
Blogger Draic said...

That's the one! (scribbling a mental note) And he'd only written one other (as yet unmentioned) movie at the time of 'Eternal Sunshine...'

It had struck me, watching his movies (especially Being John Malkovich), that it was absolutely, utterly ridiculous, but it was played so seriously! It was disorientating getting mixed messages like that!

8:57 pm  
Blogger onanymous said...

Charlie Kaufman is one of my all time favourite screenwriters. It is so refreshing to watch a movie and not be able to compare the experience with spoonfeeding.
Adaptation is also so wonderfully postmodern , that he even managed to get his fictional 'brother' nominated for an Oscar.

You might also want to try 'Confessions of a Dangerous Mind'.

4:52 pm  
Blogger Draic said...

Confessions, eh? (Making notes)

I KNEW IT! I wasn't buying the whole 'brother' thing, but I couldn't prove it! I mean, he's listed as a co-writer, his movies are in the special features, and he's part of the movie... that's pretty cool though - the way the illusion extends beyond the movie itself.

9:27 pm  

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