Discussion: Unadaptable Books

As Hollywood seems to run out of ideas what with all of the reboots and such, they’re turning more and more to books for new material.  Some books are easy to imagine as movies, you know.  The Return Man by V. M. Zito, for example.  Zito’s writing is already quite cinematic and zombies have done pretty well on the big screen in recent years.

However, some books are just not meant to be movies or TV shows whether because the technology to do them justice is not there yet or because it’s too complicated for that medium.  One book that comes to mind that would be utterly unadaptable is The Color of Rain by Cori McCarthy.  It’s a book that explores some pretty heavy things like sex slavery so you just know that the prudish North American ratings boards would give it an R rating and pretty much doom it at the box office.  It also relies heavily on the main character’s inner monologue because without that monologue, she would be an utterly horrible character with almost no redeeming qualities in some spots.  Basically, it would just not do well either as a television show or especially a movie.

What books do you think are unadaptable?  Are there some that you could easily see turned into movies?  Why or why not?


  1. Mark Lee (@MasqCrew)

    I’m not so sure. I think it would depend on the medium. The sex slave book you mentioned might work on a premium cable channel like Showtime or HBO where such subjects and graphics are accepted and even expected.

    As far as the internal monologue, there’s two ways to handle it. First and simple, voice over narration. Each episode could include a snippet either from the book or based upon a passage in the book. The second method would be to devise new scenes to explain what is learned in the monologues, such as flashbacks and such.

    I agree, though, that book wouldn’t work with network TV or even basic cable channels. But I think any book could have a place in the visual realm—somewhere.

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