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Thread: Why do wuxia novels adaptations makers *have* to change things?

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    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    Default Why do wuxia novels adaptations makers *have* to change things?

    The great wuxia novelists' works are considered classics of their genre, and are loved by millions of fans the world over. In the view of most of these readers, these works are perfect as is...or, if they need improvement, they should be improved upon by the original writers, not by a secondary party. You almost never hear of anyone who's read a wuxia novel and then seen the adaptation (or even seen the adaptation first, then went back to read the novel) argue that the adaptation was better. It's safe to say nearly all fans believe that good adaptations should stick to the novels as closely as possible.

    So why do the TV/movie producers feel compelled to make sometimes drastic changes to the material when making adaptations? These guys are wuxia fans too, right? They probably loved reading the original novels too, and are probably well-versed in the details. Why, then, does it seem impossible for a TV/movie adaptation to adapt a novel "straight"...with no changes from the novel?

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    Senior Member Dagger Lee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Cheng
    The great wuxia novelists' works are considered classics of their genre, and are loved by millions of fans the world over. In the view of most of these readers, these works are perfect as is...or, if they need improvement, they should be improved upon by the original writers, not by a secondary party. You almost never hear of anyone who's read a wuxia novel and then seen the adaptation (or even seen the adaptation first, then went back to read the novel) argue that the adaptation was better. It's safe to say nearly all fans believe that good adaptations should stick to the novels as closely as possible.

    So why do the TV/movie producers feel compelled to make sometimes drastic changes to the material when making adaptations? These guys are wuxia fans too, right? They probably loved reading the original novels too, and are probably well-versed in the details. Why, then, does it seem impossible for a TV/movie adaptation to adapt a novel "straight"...with no changes from the novel?
    Well sukting, a reviewer here, likes the series of Da Ren Wu more than the novel and so did I. Sometimes they change things for the movie because you can't squeze a thousand pages into one movie. Not sure about series though.

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    Senior Member PJ's Avatar
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    My take is that the filmmakers are artists too. Some would say the most important trait that makes a good artist is creativity. Therefore, one who simply adapts from a novel word for word, scene for scene cannot be considered an artist.

    I don't know if that really applies to the Chinese world though, since artist values are mostly non existent in crude wuxia adaptions. I guess if I were doing an adaptions, I would definitely not make it exactly identical to the novel.

    First of all, I as a viewer wouldn't want to see a motion picture if I had already read the book. Some details in the book can never be translated with justice on the screen.
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    In DGSD '97, TVB changed that WYZ retreated into the cave with LQS's sister instead. He only left to take care of DCQ. I thought that was a good change.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Cheng
    The great wuxia novelists' works are considered classics of their genre, and are loved by millions of fans the world over. In the view of most of these readers, these works are perfect as is...or, if they need improvement, they should be improved upon by the original writers, not by a secondary party. You almost never hear of anyone who's read a wuxia novel and then seen the adaptation (or even seen the adaptation first, then went back to read the novel) argue that the adaptation was better. It's safe to say nearly all fans believe that good adaptations should stick to the novels as closely as possible.

    So why do the TV/movie producers feel compelled to make sometimes drastic changes to the material when making adaptations? These guys are wuxia fans too, right? They probably loved reading the original novels too, and are probably well-versed in the details. Why, then, does it seem impossible for a TV/movie adaptation to adapt a novel "straight"...with no changes from the novel?
    Because when you're re-making the same story every 10 years or so, you have to change stuff so that people will watch it.

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    Senior Member Candide's Avatar
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    They don't have to. They do it because they can. Ask any writer and you'll hear them biatch all day about what editors do to their work. Most of the times the editors have NFI what they're doing and just change shit so that it appears that they're doing something.
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    Senior Member rabadi's Avatar
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    Budget is probably one of the factors here. XX, ZCS, and YSS went to the Icy Fire Island, which IIRC is supposed to be a snowy island, but in the adaptations they made it into a tropical island. I guess the budget to create a snowy island is higher.

    Another thing is to give more amazing image into the main character. Now, I guess you all agree that XF was great, but the adaptation made him into a superman. YG vs ZBT fight was a tie in the novel (even in the 3rd edition of ROCH, I guess), but in the adaptations I guess they made YG winning in that fight

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    Sometimes, some of the plot in a book would not translate well into the silver screen. Like Ode to Gallantry. The story ended when Shi PoTian returned from Xia Ke Island. There's no big fight or climatic ending. SPT never does anything with the great martial art he learned after he came back from Xia Ke Island. In a book, it's ok. But in TV, that's not so good.

    Also, sometimes, the scriptwriter need to make the main characters more appealing to the audience. In the movie Moll Flander, Moll is a victim of circumstances and an honourable woman, but for the most part of the novel, Moll is an unrepentant thief, prostitute and liar. Moll is an interesting character to read, but she would not appeal to the mass audience.
    Last edited by kidd; 12-08-04 at 10:43 PM.

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    Moderator Ren Wo Xing's Avatar
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    Also, keep in mind that in a series, there's no narrator. For example, Jinyong gives a LOT of background history on the various martial arts forms, describes them, etc. etc. etc.; this is VERY hard to do on screen. Furthermore, character thoughts are not easily translatable either.

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    The makers round up the flaws of the novel and exploit them in the adaptation. There was a lack of classic lines found in the LOCH novel or convincing character development. TVB's scriptwriter's masterstroke was to polish these impurities to support the appeal for TV viewers. E.g. Mei Chao Feng was kicked out of Evil East's sect, but in the novel Evil East still referred to her as his disciple when he questioned Ou Yang Ke's grudge with her. LOCH 83' corrected this. Successful adaptations or movies from any novel of any kind normally requires improvisation and perhaps totally inventing a new character e.g. Sean Connery WAS James Bond, Marlon Brando IS The Godfather and so forth. The performers in LOCH 83' managed to surpass the novel.

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    Senior Member dbx's Avatar
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    Why does Jin Yong revise his novels.

    He's on his what? Third revision?

    Things get changed, for various reasons.
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    Senior Member Zhuge Liang's Avatar
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    TVB often dumbs it down to make sure everyone understands. The wider the appeal the better for them. The dialogue especially is made simpler for overseas audiences.

    Sometimes characters are given bigger parts and more scenes which is usually a mistake. I am thinking HSDS 2000 + 2003. The extra scenes with ZM getting harassed by that royal guy just bored the hell out of me.

    Taiwan's speciality is to turn it anything into an absolute cryfest, overly wordy, overly draggy.

    Often alot of small things are added in which are totally illogical and serve no purpose but to confuse you. Like the mid-ranking shaolin monk in hsds2003 being able to recognise the white bone claws... as if. Revealing ZZR as the culprit behind the Serpent island doings also totally destroyed the suspense around that event.

    Ending changes are often totally whacked too. Like Singapore Roch where the monk breaks into the tomb and masters Yuk Lui Sum Ging in a matter of moments. Or making a happy ending when there was none. ie. HSDS2000 - Charmaine's ZZR was pretty nasty, yet they give her a half-assed half ending with her becoming amnesiac and ending up with SQS. Nice one. One day she'll wake up with 5 kids lying next to the person she does not love.

    If they are scared of repitition and thus feel they need to change things then they should wait longer before they remake. Let's face it, if they could improve significantly on Jin Yongs work they'd be writing their own novels.
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    Senior Member Candide's Avatar
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    If they are scared of repitition and thus feel they need to change things then they should wait longer before they remake. Let's face it, if they could improve significantly on Jin Yongs work they'd be writing their own novels.
    Words.

    I don't mind changes, especially to assist the transition of the novel to the screen, but these dickheads can't write scripts worth a fart.
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    Senior Member ChronoReverse's Avatar
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    I've always felt that many of those scriptwriters "think" they're being artistic and being expressive when they change the story to whatever they want. They think that they're putting in their own personal touches into the story when it's really if they tried writing something original, even fewer people would like it because it wouldn't have a famous name attached to it anymore.

    Whether this is true or not, I have a really low opinion of people who change adaptations wantonly. It takes far more skill (and even artistic skill) to adapt a written piece to film effectively without rewriting the story. Frankly the combination of laziness, lack of skill and low budgets conspire to bring out more of the "bad adaptations"

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    Senior Member rabadi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zhuge Liang
    I am thinking HSDS 2000 + 2003.
    So very true. I don't know about HSDS2003 (I haven't watched it), but HSDS2000 was so messed up. They changed a lot of things, and I mean really a lot of things. It's almost like watching a new story altogether

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    Senior Member Yeung Gor's Avatar
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    I think the main reason the script writers has change the original story because in film, there are salaries involve and the actors are paid by by how many lines they utter or how many scenes they appear in. If you follow the novel exactly, you will notice that many of the characters have small parts, appearing only a few times. In the novel you get to read characters thoughts so you understand them quickly, but in film, you can't read their thoughts or feelings so by adding more scenes you get a better character development so viewers can relate. Also the flow of the novel and film is two different medium. The flow of the novel is great when reading them but in film, you have to adjust and make changes to give the same impact. That's why adaptations are usually always different.

    btw, I think TVB83 ROCH adaptation is better than the novel in some respects. But the novel does have other qualities that I like more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Cheng
    The great wuxia novelists' works are considered classics of their genre, and are loved by millions of fans the world over. In the view of most of these readers, these works are perfect as is...or, if they need improvement, they should be improved upon by the original writers, not by a secondary party. You almost never hear of anyone who's read a wuxia novel and then seen the adaptation (or even seen the adaptation first, then went back to read the novel) argue that the adaptation was better. It's safe to say nearly all fans believe that good adaptations should stick to the novels as closely as possible.

    So why do the TV/movie producers feel compelled to make sometimes drastic changes to the material when making adaptations? These guys are wuxia fans too, right? They probably loved reading the original novels too, and are probably well-versed in the details. Why, then, does it seem impossible for a TV/movie adaptation to adapt a novel "straight"...with no changes from the novel?
    My take is that TVB and the smaller companies care about profit more than anything else, so they will do what they can to 1) ensure the scenes don't require a big budget; 2) people will watch; and 3) used toilet papers come free, so it's a lot less costly than to buy real paper for script, and smelling feces longterm tends to result in brain damage for the writers.

    Change is fine if it makes sense, but too often writers change one part and do not change other parts to compensate, resulting in (sometimes huge) plot inconsistencies.
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    Senior Member Yon's Avatar
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    It is all about making money. Why the hell JY would approve so many frigging adaptions? MONEY! He earns money. Also there are crazy fans like people in this forum would simply wonder out and buy the products or rent them, and discuss for hours of their time. Think about it? Isn't that a good business or what?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yeung Gor
    I think the main reason the script writers has change the original story because in film, there are salaries involve and the actors are paid by by how many lines they utter or how many scenes they appear in. If you follow the novel exactly, you will notice that many of the characters have small parts, appearing only a few times. In the novel you get to read characters thoughts so you understand them quickly, but in film, you can't read their thoughts or feelings so by adding more scenes you get a better character development so viewers can relate. Also the flow of the novel and film is two different medium. The flow of the novel is great when reading them but in film, you have to adjust and make changes to give the same impact. That's why adaptations are usually always different.

    btw, I think TVB83 ROCH adaptation is better than the novel in some respects. But the novel does have other qualities that I like more.
    Yeah, I remember there was a very popular Taiwan rendition of ROCH back in the early to mid 80's where the original actor for Guo Jing left the show because they didn't give him as many scenes as he should have gotten if they had followed the book more.

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    Senior Member Trinie's Avatar
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    I think they change things for various reasons since there are many things that you can't put on screen. I remember some adaptions that they actually have the narrator voice in the background actually telling us what the character is thinking!! That is really accurate but boring and annoying as a TV series....That's why many people prefer to read the actual novels rather then watch adaptions.

    I don't mind some changes as long as they are reasonable and make sense. But I HATE changes that are unreasonable and result in a bad story, like DOMD 2000 and CLH 2001. Those were ridiculous!!!

    YOu mean Howie Wong right? He played Guo Jing in the 88 version of LOCH? He really left because of that? I have never heard about that before.... Or was it another person?
    Last edited by Trinie; 12-11-04 at 03:39 AM.
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