Whether you realize it or not, nearly every movie is based on something else. The most obvious medium is fiction, but films tend to get adapted from a wide range of material; everything from comic books to magazine articles has been the basis for a movie or two. Here are some films that conceal their source materials adaptations well.
Sam Mendes' dark and moody film about a hitman trying to be a good father is based on a graphic novel of the same name.
Everyone knows the "Harry Potter" films are adapted from a series of best-selling books by J.K. Rowling. What most Americans don't know is the first book in the series is actually called "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone." It's difficult to understand why the U.S. release of the book was renamed as it was and even more difficult to understand how the publisher justified renaming the film even though the stone in question is never referred to as "the sorcerer's."
The first film in the series is based on Roderick Thorp's 1979 novel "Nothing Lasts Forever," which is a sequel to a novel called "The Detective." (This novel was adapted into a film of the same name starring Frank Sinatra.) "Die Hard 2" is based on an unrelated novel called "58 Minutes" by Walter Wagner. In both instances, John McClane replaces the book's main character. The latest film, "Live Free or Die Hard," is based on John Carlin's magazine article "A Farewell to Arms."
It's true: Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece is based on a novel by Robert Bloch. Bloch also wrote two sequels, but neither was used as the basis for further "Psycho" films (of which there were three). There was also a "Psycho" television pilot called "Bates Motel," but it didn't get picked up by any networks.
Much like "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," it's common knowledge that "Frankenstein" was originally a gothic horror novel named "Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus" written by Mary Shelley. The original Universal film, however, isn't actually based on the novel but rather the theatrical play, which was changed dramatically from the novel. That's why we get a different name for the doctor (Victor in the book, Henry in the movie), the appearance of the doctor's creepy sidekick Fritz, and a climax involving angry villagers.
A movie named "Adaptation" is an adaptation. Makes sense, doesn't it? The strange thing is that the movie is more about the adaptation process than it is about the original text. In the movie, Charlie Kaufman (the film's screenwriter) tries to adapt a nonfiction book called "The Orchid Thief" but can't figure out a way to do it. "The Orchid Thief" is an actual book and the author, Susan Orlean, becomes a fictional character in Kaufman's screenplay. How very meta. And no, Charlie Kaufman doesn't have a twin brother.
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