In response to my “trolling” on Facebook, my friend Katherine Sas published a post on her blog Raving Sanity in which she discusses why some film adaptations fail even though they seem to superficially resemble the book. In “A Series of Uncorrelated Events,” she notes that adaptations can sometimes get bogged down in trying to convey the details of the source material without paying sufficient attention to the story in the film (a “paint by the numbers” adaptation). Although I generally agree with her argument, I think it worthwhile to look more closely at the different types and range of adaptation choices.
Before going further, let me clarify that I do not intend to engage in a debate with Kat Sas about the Watership Down adaptation. I enjoyed the novel and thought the movie was passable, but truthfully do not feel particularly well versed in either. Rather than pretend to be an expert on that story, I will engage with her analysis of Peter Jackson’s adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth legendarium.