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The Day the World Could End in a Book


Submitted By jasaratali
Words 1604
Pages 7
“The day the world could end…in a book”
HUMA 1780
Jasarat Ali Bhat
The source text for this proposed adaptation is the recently released Hollywood action/adventure movie, 2012. This movie's plot is rather simple: As presumed by the Mayan Civilization in the past, a unique alignment of our solar system's planets on December 21st, 2012 will bear catastrophic effects within the earth's core causing massive earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, and etc that will eventually wipe out all life from the face of the earth. In the movie, the audience witnesses these events primarily from the perspective of small-time novelist Jackson Curtis (played by John Cusack) and politician Adrian Helmsley (Chiwetel Ejiofor). Although the two characters are in vastly different social classes, both become fatefully connected in a secret government conspiracy to enable the world's most 'genetically fit' (and/or financially fit) to survive through the calamity. Ultimately as the movie comes towards its end, it becomes apparent that rather than the world ending, the earth is simply going through a re-boot process and it is up to the human race to try and ensure its own survival. This story can effectively be adapted into a new medium because frankly put, only some of its merits are captured within the film. Having the potential and foundation for a much deeper storyline, the film simply capitalizes on its visual accomplishments. Despite the grave nature of the calamities it portrays, the movie does an excellent job in depicting just how disastrous and massive these events are. With its huge emphasis on visual appeal the film loses its significance on some of the more psychological, social, and political aspects/issues that it simply mentions. This movie describes and highlights many flaws in human nature including the selfishness of individuals, the endless capacity for greed, the relentless thirst for survival at the cost of someone else's, and much more. However, as interesting as those concepts are in the context of world-ending catastrophes, audiences overlook them in view of flashier, simpler, and more entrancing visual effects. The film is cannibalizing its own message with its illustrious visuals, whereas an adaptation of this film into something that focuses more on the message, such as a novel, can help bring its story to higher grounds. Primarily, the adaptation of the film into a new medium, such as a novel, will help the story realize a new potential. In film, what you see is essentially what you get, there is not much room for didactic reasoning or personal assumption. In a novel, the story knows no bounds as each individual reader can create their own understanding. . In the case of a novel, the story is at the mercy of not only an author but also the reader; a story is incomplete without the two. The reader can melt and mould the story into any genre depending on his/her understanding. For example, he/she can take it as a sci-fi or a thriller or reality or drama depending on his/her individual perceptions. Furthermore, the novel allows the perceiver to use his/her brains, own point of view, discretion, and imagination. Most of the time, novels are adapted into a movie and rarely the other way around. This is because of the fact that a movie is basically a jest of the novel; what a novel conveys however, cannot be conveyed by a movie. Although a movie has visual effect on the perceiver, which is appreciated better and faster by the same as compared to the literal effect of a novel, a novel’s message is much longer lived. Novels become more of a personal experience - firsthand experience (the reader tends to picture the plot and the scenes with him in the shoes of various characters) whereas a movie is somewhat of a borrowed experience (the viewer tries to imagine himself in place of the actor but with the strong persona of the actors, however difficult that may be). Moreover a novel would let a reader focus on other aspects too which get overshadowed by the graphics. Hence, the novel would be more useful to deliver a political or social message; it would not only warn the reader about his future but would also make him act and change his ways in the present so as to have a better tomorrow. It would completely address the social, political and the psychological aspects and even force the reader to act in retrospection. Hence the adaptation of the story into a novel would completely change the narrative. As mentioned, the reason for wanting to adapt this movie into a novel encompasses the problem on its own. This movie is meant to be an action/adventure film; by definition, it appeals to its audience with over-the-top visuals, intense action, and thrilling moments. In doing so, it loses its focus on the social, psychological, and political issues that it highlights. The major challenge in adapting a film like 2012 into a novel rests in downplaying the visual allure found in the film and expanding deeply into the sections of the movie where dialogue is most present. This in itself is a very difficult task because it involves taking a script, whose main intention is not to captivate its audience with impressive speech, and re-molding it into something more elegant and eloquent. The author thus, has to compensate for the visual treat with his words, which is quite a job. And as the saying goes, “The mind knows, what the eyes see”, the novel has to make the reader see the story, rather than read it. It has to be more like a literal optical illusion, almost creating the 3-D movie within the reader’s mind. The novel should have more meaning than the movie and should not be just a fancy display of vocabulary. A movie however, has a better reach, meaning that it can avail itself to more viewers than the novel. In order to read a novel a person has to be literate which isn’t true for a movie and is a major disadvantage for this medium of adaptation. A movie is usually easier to understand than a novel. As opposed to the film, the novel would definitely have to re-structure the way the story plays out. According to the film, most of the people on earth die within the catastrophes that befall the earth and the director is focused on showing how the two main characters and their families, through luck, power, and determination, ultimately survive by making it aboard the top-secret 'arks' built by world superpowers (for superpower leaders). Within this basic structure, the majority of the movie's time focuses on amazing the audience by the breath-taking scale and magnitude of major calamities. Granted, seeing an entire city being swallowed by 2 kilometer-high tsunamis and earthquakes bringing down entire countries is definitely eye-catching, but it also sways an audience member away from the deeper insights to be had within the story. Each time that a character is betrayed by another human being, or an important character/figure is killed by these 'natural' disasters, the visual aspects of these things is the only thing the audience notices. The thought processes of how a person feels or brings his/herself to do and face such horrible things are completely bypassed. The novel would have to spend a lot of time in introspection, showing what people are thinking at the time of their death, betrayal, or salvation. Without a doubt, with a shift from visual appeal to literal appeal, a novel based on the movie 2012 would almost certainly have a different genre. In this example however, the genre influences the adaptation process greatly, but in an inverse manner. The action/adventure elements found in the film greatly highlight the underlying social, psychological, and political elements noted in the story, but at the same time, they downplay their significance. In order to bring out those deeper elements of the story, one is not left with many other options other than the novel to help give a new perspective on what experiencing the end of the world really feels like. Ultimately, noting the differences in story, presentation, and execution of 2012 in a film and in a novel, the medium one selects to portray a story definitely plays a huge role in how that story will turn out. 2012, when portrayed as a movie, is dignified by top-notch animation, technology, and visual attraction. As a novel however, 2012 begins to leave the visuals up to the imagination of the reader, and focuses more on the experience of the end of days. Even the characters get influenced a lot by the medium of adaptation; one gets to know only a certain aspect of a character in a movie, which the director thinks is important to show to audiences. In a novel however, a reader gets to know a character better by experiencing the world through the character’s eyes. The time period and other details about the society would be better appreciated in a novel, which treats each subject equally, whereas in a movie, the over-the-top effects overshadow these details. Ultimately, the message is not lost in a film, it is simply not realized to its full potential in spite of its visual appeal. All in all, a film provides a picture to the masses of how the world would look in its final breaths but the novel allows the reader to experience it as if they were taking their own.

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