We’ve already taken a look at some of the challenges a director faces when translating a biography to the big screen, but in an insightful piece for IndieWire, Mark Greenbaum examines the intricacies involved in a slightly different adaptive process — producing a film from a work of literature. It’s something the Coen brothers did to scintillating effect with the Oscar-winning No Country for Old Men, based on Cormac McCarthy’s 2005 novel of the same name. McCarthy’s book, much like the Coens’ film, centers around three main characters — Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, Llewellyn Moss, and Anton Chigurh — with each man’s story weaving together to form a compelling central narrative.
Faithful as they were to the core of McCarthy’s text, the Coens did take some liberties with their 2007 masterpiece, carefully pruning some elements for the sake of cinematic continuity, as Greenbaum describes below:
Cuts or no cuts, the Coens showed intense loyalty to McCarthy’s work in many ways. With the exception of about ten scenes, they retained every bit of the book in one form or another, with one broad exception: the larger story of Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (played by Tommy Lee Jones). The way they altered Sheriff Bell’s dialogue and development is a sterling example of their skillful adaptation of the book, their tightening of McCarthy’s story for the screen.
Read Mark Greenbaum’s full article here.