Script Before the Book

Sarah points to this article on Philip K. Dick adaptations, which suggests that the best PKD movies are those made by directors dismissive of the source material. The Post article points out that Ridley Scott dismissed PKD’s work and hadn’t even bothered to read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? But what the article fails to acknowlege is that, unless the director is also writing the script, the director’s job is to visualize the story, not actually develop it. With Minority Report, Spielberg was more attracted to creating a future than adhering with the PKD hardline (although Spielberg notes in the Wired interview that he had read Dick). But the fact is that a lot of filmmakers don’t read the original books when the script falls into their hands.

Girl with a Pearl Earring — (Michael Weber): “I deliberately held off reading the book for a while as well. There was one thing I was scared of: I had the script, I had done about eight months working on the script with the writer. I was worried that if I read the book too soon, I would have a whole load of knowledge, just there in my subconscious…”

Nicholas Nickleby — (Charlie Hunman): “Yeah, I read it at school. It was probably mandatory to read at least one Dickens and it just so happened that I was asked to read Nickleby. But when this came around I couldn’t really remember what the book was about. I was just nine years old when I read it and, like most things at school, I didn’t really pay too much attention. I read director Doug McGrath’s adaptation for the film before I re-read the book and I thought he did an amazing job.”

The Hulk — (Ang Lee): “We had tried several drafts of the screenplay, but it didn’t quite work – I didn’t really know what I wanted to do yet. And then one day James [Schamus, co-writer] brought to my attention that in one issue of Hulk they brought the father back, and then an idea hit me. But at the same time I thought, Oh no, not the father/son thing again! But I wouldn’t have done it unless I felt that it was bringing something fresh.”