Thursday, April 15, 2021

Adapting to Survive


Cursed - the legend of King Arthur is reenvisioned on Netflix.

Adapting a book to the screen has many names - remake, reboot, revision... But they all have one thing in common: the story is, in part or whole, rewritten to survive.

From the point of view of the book, this isn't always good, where 'good' equals accurate or in the spirit of.... As I mentioned once in The Down Side of Adaptation, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jeffrey Eugenides reminds us that the book's story radically changes once it becomes visual. 

"It's no longer a book, and to try to insist on it being a book will usually make it a poorer film." - Jeffrey Eugenides

In the world of storytelling, adaptation is about the book withstanding a translation to 'motion pictures' and in the wild kingdom, adaptation means exactly the same thing

The okapi
The okapi has survived 16 million years through adaptations.

For today's post, I thought it would be fun to compare three evolutionary adaptations -- structural, physiological and behavioral -- in nature with those found in storytelling. For example, the okapi demonstrates structural and physiological adaptations that have allowed it to survive. 

    1) they have scent glands on their feet to mark their territory
    2) they use infrasonic calls to communicate with their calves so predators can't hear
    3) their tongues are 14-18 inch-long tongues used for browsing and washing their ears and eyes

Shadow and Bone | Six of Crows Macmillian 

A book adaptation with just as surprising structural and physiological changes as the Okapi is the new Netflix series adaptation of Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. In this revision, characters and environments are combined to survive as something new.

Instead of solely adapting its namesake book, the show combines it with characters and geography from Bardugo’s duology Six of Crows. - Nerdist

Another interesting form of adaptation in nature is based on behavoral changes. 

When it comes to this kind of adaptations in nature, squirrels take the cake. Did you know they can hibernate for up to 12 months? 

Photography: Alamy - Grey Squirrel Study at UE

A new series, also to Netflix, took the behavioral route when it adapted the time-honoured story of King Arthur. You might notice right away that Merlin doesn't quite behave the way we expect given a Disney upbringing. If you haven't seen it, you'll want to prepare yourself!

(the old) Merlin is a figure of great power and wisdom. His magical abilities are substantial and he’s generally depicted as a sort of all-seeing sage, who engineers the birth of Arthur and the rise of Camelot before falling victim to an ill-timed romance.

 Gustav Skarsgard’s performance brings this very different kind of Merlin to life.

In Cursed, Merlin is, to be blunt, a world-weary mess. Stripped of his magic and overly fond of alcohol, this character seems the furthest thing possible from an all-knowing, all-powerful wizard. And that’s not just an intentional choice on the part of Wheeler – it’s one that places this Merlin closer to his Welsh beginnings than many versions of the character that came afterward. - Den of Geeks

Love them or not, the revisions films tell of our beloved books are different, including sometimes shocking and unexpected takes. But, just like in nature, they have been adapted to survive new challenges in the environment, for better or worse.

How about you? What are your favorite adaptations? Most appalling? We'd love to hear your thoughts.

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Crown of Bones audio sample
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Kim Falconer, currently writing as A K Wilder, has just released Crown of Bones, a YA Epic Fantasy.

Kim can be found on  AKWilder TwitterFacebook and Instagram

Throw the bones, read your horoscopes or Raise Your Phantom on the site or have a listen to the audio version on the right.

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