Fixed Adaptation YKTTW Discussion

Fixed Adaptation
An adaptation is altered to put it up to date with either social convention or current science.
(permanent link) added: 2012-01-11 15:28:38 sponsor: Generality (last reply: 2014-12-05 18:04:21)

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Sometimes an adaptation has to make alterations, either to the plot or some characterisation, due to something which is unpalatable or would ring falsely to the target audience. Problems in the original work which need to be fixed might include critical research failure by the author, advances in science since it came out, different social mores across time or region, or just inconsistencies in the work that need to be ironed out.

In the case of science, it's common to have changes due to Phlebotinum du Jour, where the original work has something fantastic happen due to, say, a lightning strike or radiation, the adaptation might blame genetic engineering because that sounds more like a plausible explanation to the current audience.

The change in question could be a tiny detail in the middle of the film, which might easily go unremarked, or something so significant the ending is vastly different.

In fanworks, the same issue might be addressed in a Fix Fic. Compare Pragmatic Adaptation, in which changes are made because of differences in the medium itself, Adaptation Distillation, in which the plot is changed because of time constraints, and Race Lift. Contrast Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole.


Comic Books to Film
  • The original Spider-Man comic book stated that his powers come from a "radioactive" spider and that it doesn't give him webbing - just elevated strength and agility. (The webbing and wall-crawling were made of gadgets.) In the Spider-Man Trilogy, the spider is changed to be "genetically-enhanced" and that the webbing also comes from it.

Film to Literature (Novelization)
  • The movie Fantastic Voyage contained a plot hole: the shrunken submarine was destroyed, and therefore didn't return to normal size inside the patient (which would kill him)—but destroying isn't disintegration; enlarging debris would be as bad a problem as an enlarging submarine. When Isaac Asimov novelized it, he had a blood cell engulf the debris so that it could be taken out of the patient safely.
  • The Trope Namer for Voodoo Shark is, at least, an attempted example. The novelization for Jaws: The Revenge tried to justify the shark's unrealistic actions in the movie by adding a voodoo curse into the story.

Literature to Film
  • The original James Bond novel Goldfinger is about an attempt to rob Fort Knox. The makers of the film realised this was utterly unfeasible, due to the sheer amounts of gold within, and had Bond smugly inform Goldfinger of this flaw, to which he responded that, in this version, his plan was not to take the gold, but to nuke it, thus making his own gold much more valuable.
  • The Da Vinci Code had Robert Langdon as a Grail believer, categorically agreeing with Sir Leigh Teabing's rather historically dubious account of the bloodline of Jesus Christ. A number of critics and historians expressed considerable doubt about the probability of the novel's claims, and Langdon in the film is a far more moderate character, skeptical about many of Teabing's beliefs, pointing at holes in the theory, and ultimately serving as a neutral point between Teabing's fanaticism and Sophie's skepticism. Ultimately, however, the wild tale proves completely true.
  • For The Lord of the Rings films, among many changes of varying types, the filmmakers modernised many aspects of the characters' speech (mainly to avoid Have a Gay Old Time) and de-emphasised the class difference between Frodo and the other hobbits, feeling that the dynamic of him as a minor noble with Sam as his servant would be distasteful to a modern audience. Given that the book is a major Door Stopper, it's not surprising there were a lot of changes.
    • The physical aspect of Frodo and Sam's relationship is seriously toned-down in places. While the characters in the movie hug, they do not kiss, cuddle, or hold hands nearly as much as they do in the book. This probably reflects the restrictive contemporary attitude towards platonic affection between male friends.
    • The scene where the ring is destroyed is changed to give Frodo a more active role, in keeping with the modern secular view of heroes as free agents of their own destiny. The religious connotations of the scene (Gollum's intervention and fortuitous death can be seen as the act of Diving Grace that allows Frodo to accomplish his mission in spite of his own weakness) are thus downplayed.
    • In order to forground Frodo as the hero, the movie tends to play up his weaknesses and downplay Sam's. This can be most cleraly seen in the relaitonship between the hobbits and Gollum. In the book, it is clear that Frodo's decision to trust Gollum is the right one, and there are suggestions that Sam's hostility towards Gollum actually contributes to his eventual betrayal. The movie recasts these events so that Sam's objections to Gollum all come off as wisdom and Frodo's trust of him as foolishness. Most of Sam's scenes of doubt and self-questioning have also been removed, with all the focus placed on Frodo's inner struggle. Frodo thus emerges as the more rounded and morally-complex character, while Sam is relegated to the role of flatly virtuous sidekick.
    • After the Twin Towers terrorism attack, scenes were removed which would have portrayed the films' villains (especially the human ones such as the Haradrim) more sympathetically, and pointed out the flaws in the good guys (such as the Rohirrim's hunting of the hill men). The film had been geared to portray matters in a somewhat morally ambiguous light, as in the book, but after the incident it was decided that people would rather have a more black and white morality contrast. As a response, the films were accused of glorifying war.
    • Although the filmmakers have not specifically addressed the subject, the removal of Saruman's change of attire from white to rainbow clothing was probably done to avoid Unfortunate Implications due to current associations of rainbows.
  • The film adaptations of The Hobbit have had numerous plot changes, many for the sake of padding, others to seal plot holes within the book. Most notably, in the book the dwarves' plan to have one burglar sneak into Erebor and steal Smaug's entire horde of gold was implausible, so in the film they were specifically after the Arkenstone, which would have given Thorin the authority to rally the Dwarves to take back the kingdom.
  • The film version of Gone with the Wind tones down the racism of the original book, which was thought to be uncommercial even in that time period. And by modern standards, the movie is still overflowing with Unfortunate Implications.
  • The book The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas contains numerous factual errors about The Holocaust which are rectified in the film adaptation. In the book Bruno has basically no knowledge of who Jews or Adolf Hitler are, highly unlikely considering the amount of propaganda German children were fed during then and made all the more egregious by the fact that Hitler himself actually visits his family for dinner. In the film the dinner with Hitler is omitted, and Bruno is shown hearing anti-Jew propaganda but not being very interested in it. Other fixed errors include the fence not being electrified, and Shmuel's not being spotted by guards while sitting near the fence as being because he's not easily visible behind a small debris pile.
  • The revolution in the film Fight Club is rather more sympathetic than the one in the book. In the book, the target of the big bomb at the end is a history museum: Tyler basically wants to destroy all art and culture. In the film, they're blowing up credit card companies in order to erase debt records.
  • Twoflower in the first Discworld book, The Colour of Magic, is a Japanese Tourist-analogue, coming to Ankh-Morpork from Agatea, the Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Imperial Japan, bringing an annoying camera and more money than sense. That trope having declined in popularity and relevance since The '80s when the book was written, the 2008 TV adaptation gave Twoflower a Race Lift and made him an American-accented, Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist played by Sean Astin.

Literature to Animated Film
  • In the Tarzan novels, written in the early 1900's, Tarzan is raised by a fictional ape species called "Mangani", while gorillas are portrayed as simple-minded, vicious monsters and enemies of the Mangani. The leader of the Mangani, Kerchak, is however almost as violent, but more intelligent, than the gorillas, and he kills Tarzan's biological father. The Disney Animated Adaptation turns Tarzan's family into gorillas, and the writers took advantage of 100 years of biology studies to portray gorillas more accurately: Kala is a gentle and loving female, while Kerchak is a stern silverback violently protective of his family, but ultimately a good guy. Tarzan's parents are, instead, killed by a leopard. The original books also portrayed the African natives as primitive savages, which would be considered racist nowadays, so the Disney film completely removes them from the story.
  • In Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (the book), Captain Nemo's submarine runs on electricity, a nearly unheard-of power source at the time. The Disney film made it nuclear-powered instead.

Literature to Animated Series
  • In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the Scarecrow becomes King of the Emerald City after the Wizard departs. The sequel, The Marvelous Land of Oz, introduces the idea that there was a royal family who ruled the Emerald City before the Wizard took over, and when the Scarecrow is deposed by General Jinjur's army, Glinda refuses to help restore him to the throne because he has no more right to it than Jinjur has — even though she approved of him taking the throne at the end of the previous book. In the animated series The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which adapts both books, Glinda explains that when she approved of the Scarecrow becoming King she thought the royal family had died out, and only since then had learned that the rightful heir had been hidden away but was still alive.
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