So as far as fidelity of translation, that’s not too shabby. The final scene in the book has some introspection and insight into the thoughts and feelings of both the admiral and the CAG, and the scene is altered some in that in the book, CAG got really angry. Not much of that came through in the movie. Still, I would say that Hollywood translated a lot of the Michener’s final scene onto the screen.
Another Korean War movie I’ve liked to watch is “The Hunters,” with Robert Mitchum. I like the movie up until the Mitchum character crash-lands to help another guy who got shot down. I generally stop watching at that point. But, still, there are good flying scenes in the movie, and I watch it time to time. Two years ago someone put me onto the book the movie was taken from. James Salter wrote it, and I think it is a good book. I was flummoxed, though. Hollywood took the names of some of the characters, but the story line was changed completely. I’d imagine though it was as much due to Air Force input as Hollywood. The book has a bit of a dark sense to it, and it is not what I’d call recruiting material.
Over the last two months I watched three movies and re-read the books behind them: “Hondo,” “The Sand Pebbles,” and “For Whom the Bells Toll.”
In “Hondo,” I was flummoxed. There are a number of movie scenes lifted almost verbatim from the book, including lines of dialogue. Perhaps the language and style of a western lends itself to such applicability and representation equally on the page as on the screen.
In the other two books and movies, again I was taken with the amount of material lifted from the pages and put into moving pictures.
A writer hears, “Show, don’t tell,” from an editor now and then. And writing courses emphasize scene construction in various ways, such as the story’s motive force. I mention these examples not to suggest that a writer should study them to figure out how to write a book that Hollywood will translate verbatim to the screen. Rather, I do believe that Wannabe Writers like me could learn a good deal about scene construction from studying the examples listed above. The moving picture screen can convey some things a page cannot, but words on a page can take a reader inside a character’s head, where the screen is more limited in that regard. Although there are ways in which a movie character can talk to himself in italicized dialogue, such as Chuck Norris in “The Octagon,” where in a couple of places, the character voices internal ninja warrior thinking.
At any rate, scene constructions are the elemental building blocks of a story, and I suggest studying books and movies where the same scene construction works well in both media.