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June 19, 2011

1. Film Analysis

One of the main themes in the film is dependency.  Throughout the film Laroche displays his need or dependency on objects.  It is his passion to possess things that keeps him focused and driven.  His drive not only extends to possessing the orchids but he must also learn about them, grow them, and dissect them to truly understand what they’re about.  The film also shows the theme of dependency through Kaufmann’s and Orlean’s roles.  Kaufmann is constantly seeking the approval and acceptance of his peers.  He desires to create something so spectacular that he is accepted yet he has no acceptance of himself.  Throughout the film you see his deep seeded need for dependency when he interacts with his brother.  He then follows his brothers steps by attending the same seminar his brother did.  In the end he learns to depend on himself but through a series of events that help him evolve.  He finally learns to adapt to his life as it is.   Orlean however, is looking for a purpose and thinks she finds that in Laroche.  She begins her story and is dependent upon Laroche for information.  She later is dependent on his affection and becomes his lover.  Ultimately, Laroche is not enough for her and this drives her to use drugs which in itself is an example of dependency.

2. Book Analysis

The main theme in the novel,”The Orchid Thief”, is passion.  The novel focuses on how far one will go to pursue his or her passion, not just the passion itself.   As Susan follows Laroche and interviews him, we see her own passion of journalism come through in her writing.    She describes her journalistic style as her one unembarrassed passion.   In the novel, Orlean describes the passion for collecting things as a means for infusing meaning into life.  In the novel, Orlean finds she doesn’t really need to see the ghost orchid described in the book as much as she needs to possess the passion.  She wants to feel the passion Laroche feels through his obsession and dependence on orchids.  She hopes that by finding and understanding that passion, she can find purpose or meaning in life.

Internet Research

This is a youtube clip interviewing Orlean and her take on the film Adaptation.  She talks about how she thought her book was unfilmable but yet was approached to make it into a film.  She was sure when they decided to make it into a film, they would add sex and drugs-she was not mistaken.

This is an interview with Meryl Streep.  She talks about how much she really loved this scrip and was impressed with the director.  She mentions how one must watch the film more than once to truly get all you can out of this film.  Streep talks about the messages the film conveys and how each of us makes the choices thrown in this film.  We choose how we’ll live our lives, who we’ll sleep with and who we’ll become.

This final website is about Susan Orlean but also includes information about the film. It is a site that includes a blog about adaptation.  There are links from the blogs to any old blogs that have been posted.  There is also a tab to find out more information about The Orchid Thief or other books the author has written.  You can also find articles and appearances of Susan Orlean.  The best part about this site is that one can contact Orlean if they want to send her a question. I’m not sure if she’ll answer or how quickly she’ll answer but it would be fun to send a message and see what happens.

4. Critical Analysis Questions

In the film Adaptation, are the director Spike Jonze and the screenwriter Charlie Kaufman suggesting that a true film adaptation of a literary work is impossible? Or are they saying that some kinds of literary works are impossible to film? Or are they saying that it is precisely the impossible books that film-makers should try to adapt?

In the film “Adaptaion”,Kaufman and Jonze are trying to prove that when a book seems impossible to film, it is a book one should try to adapt.  In this film, the director was able to take Orlean’s book, that she described as being “non-linear nor suited for film” and create a film about it.  They took qualities of the book that were not explicitely written down and broadened those ideas in the film.  Orlean describes writing this book at a difficult time in her life, difficulties she had yet to voice such as a troubled marriage.  Kauffman was somehow able to take those problems and write them into the film.  They wrote the film using Orlean’s journalistic approach to finding a passion through the interviewing process.  In the film, we see Orlean and Kaufman both dealing with this quest in finding meaning in life.  We see how each of them takes a different approach and yet they somehow connect in their insecurities and the dependence of others.  Kaufman and Jonze took a book that was simply about an orchid and captured the deeper meaning behind Susan’s quest for passion.  Ironically, it was through their passion as screenwriters that this film was so brilliantly created.  While one might see a piece of literature impossible to capture on film, another might make an attempt to prove them wrong.  While brilliantly created, this film is another example of how books and film are two different mediums.  Aspects of one can be recreated using parts of the other.  However, a true interpretation of a book can never be put on film.  However, one final thought…If each person gets something different out of a brilliantly written book then how can one say the books meaning is unfilmable?  Isn’t that up to the viewer to decide if the true essence is captured?


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  1. No complaints at all. Everything is good. You even began your argument paragraph with a thesis statement, which you then developed! 10/10.

    Joseph Byrne

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