- Analysis of the Book
The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean is a non-fiction story about John Laroche and his poaching of wild orchids in Florida. The assigned reading introduced how Orlean and Laroche met as well as some background information on Laroche. The two major themes of the book are obsession and beauty.
- Analysis of the Film
Adaptation was directed by Spike Jonze and written by Charlie Kaufman. Inspired by Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief, the film shows how (the fictional) Charlie Kaufman, played by Nicholas Cage, struggles to adapt The Orchid Thief into a screenplay. Although Charlie attempts to give the novel a faithful adaptation, he finds it impossible because of the unusable narrative. Similar to Tristram Shandy, the character is trying to find a way to adapt a book into a film. One of the themes that appear in both the book and film is the aspect of obsession.
- Analysis of the Adaptation
The film, Adaptation, shows the process of writing a screenplay about a book that is considered “unfilmable.” In many ways, the film confirms that Orlean’s book is too complicated to adapt into a film. That is likely the reason why Kaufman decided to insert himself into the film. Even though in the film, Charlie attempts to remain as faithful to the book as he can, the unusable narrative forces him to question his abilities. Several times throughout the film, Charlie refers to Darwin’s beliefs in evolution, and how species adapt to their environment. In the film, the viewer sees how Charlie evolves because he gets forced into adapting to an unknown environment (the unfilmable book).
- Online Research on the Film
In this online blog, the writer compares the book and the film, noting how the film shows the experience of writing a script while the book shows the experience of writing the book.
This article explains the writing process that Charlie Kaufman used as he was adapted The Orchid Thief into a screenplay.
The article addresses how Charlie Kaufman gave his characters multiple identities throughout the film. Kaufman creates a metanarrative to present the adaptation of Orlean’s book, but also the complicated process of writing a screenplay for it. He twists Orlean’s story to adapt it into a screenplay, but also creates his own world in it. The use of multiple identities show the viewer the Hollywood aspect of the film and the emotional and psychical changes characters develop through the writing process.
- Critical Argument Paragraph
While Adaptation has two stories that only interlock by the end of the film, removing one story would change the relationship of the film and book. In the beginning of the film, there is a clear separation between the two stories. The Laroche story is told as though Charlie is writing it. It shows Charlie’s process of developing a screenplay. Removing the Laroche story would change the film because it would show a writer attempting to adapt a complicated book into film. The film loses some of its faithfulness to the book if it left out Laroche’s story. Although the theme of obsession would still connect the film and book, the film would lose most of the book’s aspect. Removing one story changes the way the story is adapted into film.