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Archive for May 28th, 2011

It isn’t uncommon for a previously existing work, like a novel, to find itself adapted many times for any given medium, and for one of its eventual incarnations to stand tall above all the others, supplanting at times even the original source-material itself. There’s been countless screen versions of the works of William Shakespeare, Jane Austen and other such antique hand-me-downs of classic literature, and we’re likely to keep seeing fresh versions of their work presented for film and television for as long as such media exists– no matter how much people claim to hate things like reboots, remakes and the like, an exception always seems to be made for anything sourced from a book that’s printed with gold tinting on its pages. Probably the most famous example of a book that took several adaptations for it to hold firm on the public consciousness would be John Huston’s seminal take on Dashiel Hammet’s The Maltese Falcon, the third time the book had been brought to the screen, and all within the space of a single decade. Science-fiction novels tend not to be repeated quite as often thanks to the high-cost it takes to present a lot of the high-concept stuff for motion-pictures, and when a work finds itself adapted a second time, it tends to be after a sufficient amount of time has passed, and technology has advanced enough to offer a fresh take (John Carpenter and David Cronenberg’s takes on The Thing From Another World and The Fly, respectively) or in a country other than the original adaptation (Steven Soderbergh offering another take on Stanislav Lem’s Solaris, for whatever reason). But for my money, there’s no stranger case of a novel adapted multiple times and in wildly differing takes than the case of Robert A. Heinlen’s classic Starship Troopers, which most audiences know from Paul Verhoven’s infamously satirical 1997 film, which treated the author’s endorsement for a kinder, gentler form of interstellar fascism with the tongue-in-cheek spirit it deserved.

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