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Raymond Chandler is known for his penchant towards cannibalizing some of his short stories into novels. "The Big Sleep" written published in 1939 is no different from his previous works. It takes on the hardboiled crime scenes, a common feature in Chandler's works.
However, in this case, he deviates slightly by introducing a detective, Phillip Marlowe who pairs with a seductive yet deadly female, Vivian. In keeping up with the hardboiled scenes, Chandler's book is interwoven with complex twists and turns where characters double-cross one another. Secrets are exposed throughout the plot.
"The Big Sleep" produced in 1946, is a film adapted from Raymond Chandler's novel of the same title, and co-written by William Faulkner, Jules Furthman and Leigh Bracket (Hawks et al. 1946). The film stars Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, playing as private detective Phillip and Vivian Rutledge respectively. It garnered over $3 million at the box office.
The screenplay is available online. And, much changes have been made on the early draft with instances of inclusion and omission of some events and scenes in the film thus making it less misogynistic. More details found here: http://www.aellea.com/script/bigsleep.txtFor instance, the character of Vivian, Sternwood's elder daughter is altered in the film. She is made to appear more sympathetic, yet a crucial character in the film than in the novel.
Reviewers such as one posted in the New York Times website describes the film as one that is different and affords viewers a fresh and interesting perspective on a murder mystery (T.M.P, 1947). It goes ahead to point that one gets the chance to become part of the story and see things from the perspective of the protagonist, Phillip albeit with the chance to suffer his bruises as it happens in the film and novel from which the film is adapted from.
In the case of the film "The Big Sleep," there are various elements of adaptation that makes the film slightly different from the novel which it is adapted from. For instance, the character of Vivian, Sternwood's elder daughter is altered in the film.
The changes are necessitated by the director's inclination towards depicting a sympathetic aspect of female characters than that depicted in the Raymond Chandler's novel.
The film deals with an expansion kind of adaptation because of the scriptwriters and director's idea of trying to make the film less misogynistic compared to the novel. There are many instances where various scenes have been introduced that were not part of the novel. For instance, the double-entendre dialogue between Bacall and Bogart about the horseracing is non-existent in the book but included in the film. In another instance, the confrontation with Eddie is an element of expansion during the adaptation.
Besides expansion as an element of adaptation, there is omission of some parts of the novel during the film adaptation. For instance, the contact between Marlowe and the police is slightly reduced in the film despite taking a larger share of the book.
Based on a careful analysis of the film and reading of the text, it is evident that the adaptation process has altered it and its thematic concerns. By omitting some scenes and including others during the adaptation process, there is a change in some thematic concerns such as making the film less misogynistic compared to the novel "The Big Sleep."
What are the elements of adaptations in "The Big Sleep" film?
How have the omissions and changes affected the thematic concerns of the film "The Big Sleep?
Some of the elements of adaptations in "The Big Sleep" film are expansion and omission. In this case, different ideas are included in the film, which were not part of the novel by Chandler. And, this helps in advancing the ideas of the script writer and the director through the cinema. In addition, there is the element of omission of some scenes in the film, which helped the director overcome the challenges of going through the process of producing a lengthy film, which is an expensive venture.
Omitting and creating changes in the script to fit into the film may emphasize or overlook at some of the issues that were in the original novel or book. This is evident in the film "The Big Sleep," where the changes and omissions result in a less misogynistic and less despairing film compared to the novel.
The whole aspect of adaptation results in a change in the thematic concerns and the variation in prominence of such themes in the film as compared to the novel. And, all this alludes to Leitch's point that there is a big difference between adaptation and allusion of a novel into a film, and each has its effect on the themes presented in the work (Griffin, 2010).
Desmond, J. M., & Hawkes, P. J. (2006). Adaptation: Studying Film and Literature. McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages.
Griffin, S. M. (2010). Thomas Leitch, Film Adaptation and Its Discontents: From Gone with the Wind to The Passion of Christ.
Hawks, H., Chandler, R., Bogart, H., Bacall, L., & Malone, D. (1946). The big sleep. Warner Brothers.
T.M.P. (1947, January 24). www.nytimes.com. Retrieved from www.nytimes.com: http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9C04E3DE123EEE3BBC4C51DFB766838C659EDE
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