>Adaptions and a love of M.R. James

>Is it possible to be faithful to an original text when writing a screen play?

It makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Because the films/tv series always seem to fall short. Is it an impossibility to faithfully adapt prose to screen? Or is it just because the human imagination can cover so much more complexity than is possible on screen?

I only ask because I managed to catch the adaption of “Oh whistle and I’ll come to you, my Lad” that was played over christmas. For those who’ve missed out, it was originally a ghost story by the late, great M.R. James; a ghost story writing expert in my humble opinion. The story follows a university professor on a short break to the seaside where he is haunted by a strange apparition he spots on the beach. The story, as with many of James’ works, made me poop in my pantaloons just a tad when I first read it, and still gives me shivers afterward.

The adaption to tv, while good, just didn’t hit the right kind of mark, for me. It stars the incredible John Hurt who manages to act his ass off while having so few lines of dialogue. And he’s brilliant, as are the few other actors/esses involved. Of course, they’ve had to update the story slightly, as the original was written somewhere in the early part of last century (feel free to correct me there), and the updates are done extremely well. In fact, the whole thing is very creepy. It just falls short at the final scare. Which is such a shame.

But I think I’m biased. I’m too close to the subject. Maybe someone else could let me know what they thought? Even if it’s just shy of the final impact of the original, I’d still suggest watching it. The beach scenes are genuinely haunting.


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