What is Film Adaptation_

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What is Film Adaptation?

A film adaptation is the term often used to announce the transfer of a story or literary work into a whole, or partial, feature film. You might have heard the term “film adaptation” used before, and wondered, “What is film adaptation?”


Film adaptations commonly take place when a book is adapted or a poem or some other work of literature is adapted to be created into a video or movie. Some of the world’s most famous literature has been adapted for film.

What is Film Adaptation?

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Film adaptation represents the conversion of literature or literary works for film. For every great film adaptation that you’ll see, there are equally as many poor examples of film adaptation.

In fact, not all literary works are ideal for film adaptation. And there are infinitely many adapted works that prove this. You might have made this same assumption in the past. If you ever found yourself saying, “Well, the movie wasn’t nearly as good as the book was, but it was okay.”

You basically just announced that the film adaptation of the book wasn’t as good as the book itself.

What Makes a Good Film Adaptation?

So what is it that makes a good film adaptation? The actual elements of a story or literary work that must be portrayed in a film vary from one work to the next. Determining what makes a good film adaptation versus what results in a poor adaptation is actually hard to do.

This is because film adaptations are still a work of art. They are seen through the eyes of many different viewers and are thus discretionary. What one likes, another may not love at all.

According to Northeastern University, there are some steps that can be taken to ensure a successful book to film adaptation.

These include:

  • Highlighting the characters.
  • Closely following the written narrative.
  • Using visuals created by the text.
  • Learning what’s behind a poor adaptation.
  • Focusing more on the story, while also focusing on the visuals.

Structure of Film Adaptation


In learning how to answer the question, “What is film adaptation?” It’s also important to understand how structure can play a key role in the adaptation of a book or literary work onto video.

While every story has a beginning, middle and end. The elements of the story may be delivered in a completely different narrative when an adaptation is created.

Film Adaptations often mix the structure of the story. Delivering in a distinctly different narrative than what was originally found in the written work. But does that make it a poor adaptation?

Not really, or at least not always. In fact, adopting a different narrative structure for the story when creating a film adaptation can be beneficial in producing the desired dramatic effects – if it’s done right.

It’s important to closely consider any changes to narrative structure, characters, or plot when creating a book to film adaptation or any other literary work adaptation. Keep this in mind if you’re planning a film adaptation of your own.