James Ellroy, author of the bestselling 1990 noir novel L.A. Confidential, has a few harsh words to say about the novel’s 1997 film adaptation, which starred Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe, Kim Basinger, and Kevin Spacey. This was surprising, considering the film won numerous Oscars, including Best Picture and currently has a 99% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But James Ellroy made it clear in his panel during the weekend of the Hay Festival, according to The Guardian, that he did not care for it.
He said the novel was as ‘deep as tortilla’, while also noting he did not care for the the majority of the performances and even considered that the plot itself made no sense. He thought the action lacked a soul, focused on action and spectacle as opposed to the deeper significance he gave the book. He did, however, like the money he was given to the rights to the book, noting it was a gift he never had to give back.
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James Ellroy hasn’t shied from controversy before, expressing the belief that Citizen Kaneis a sh*tty film and expressing disinterest in any events after 1972, preferring immensely to write about the period before that. He refused to answer questions at the end of the panel about ‘contemporary issues’. Either way, this showcases that no matter how good or popular your movie is, the author may not like it.
What are your thoughts on this? Tell us in the comments!
Deborah Moggach, author of Tulip Fever,opened up to The Guardian about the ‘nightmare’ experience she had regarding the adaptation of her novel, which starred Alicia Vikander and Christoph Waltz. Translating her beloved novel to the big screen was a horrible process and in many ways, was a cautionary tale of how NOT to adapt a book. Describing the experience as a ‘ghastly disaster’, Moggach, after flying to Hollywood to speak to producers about adapting the novel, jokingly offered her milkman, Ron, a role in the film. Though the comment was in jest, newspapers caught wind of this and spun it into “MILKMAN BEING OFFERED ROLE IN MOGGACH’S TULIP FEVER!” Soon, Moggach found herself dealing with both the press and a mountain of incoming screenwriters.
She recalled there was a continuous stream of screenwriters hoping to adapt her work, each one bumped off in favor of a new writer. In the process, she believes they lost track of what the book was supposed to be about. Moggach noted Harvey Weinstein interfered with the production constantly, which was shooting in 2014. It was first optioned in 2004 but was dropped after production delays. Weinstein kept fiddling with the cut of the film itself. Moggach comments that he was a ‘bully’ and was never satisfied with the cut.
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The film adaptation was finally released to negative reviews. It currently has a 10% on Rotten Tomatoes and an average rating of 4.4/10 on IMDB. It’s not hard to see why the author thought the film was particularly terrible and she admitted to watching the first screening with a glass of wine in hand, practically laughing at the decisions made by screenwriters while adapting the novel.
This film shows what happens when a good story gets into the wrong hands. What did you think of the film adaptation? Was it as terrible as everyone said? Is the book better? (In this author’s opinion, yes!)