name = Adaptation.
Jonathan Demme Vincent Landay Edward Saxon
Susan Orlean(" The Orchid Thief") Charlie Kaufman(screenplay)
Nicolas Cage Meryl Streep
Cara Seymour Brian Cox
released = December 6, 2002
runtime = 114 min.
country = USA
language = English
budget = $19 million
gross = $32.8 million
website = http://www.sonypictures.com/homevideo/adaptation-superbit/index.html
amg_id = 1:260395
imdb_id = 0268126
"Adaptation." is a 2002
comedy-drama satirefilm directed by Spike Jonzeand written by Charlie Kaufman. The film is based on Susan Orlean's book " The Orchid Thief" through self-referential events. "Adaptation." stars Nicolas Cage(as both Charlie and Donald Kaufman), as well as Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper, Cara Seymour, Brian Cox, Tilda Swinton, Ron Livingstonand Maggie Gyllenhaal. The film tells the story of Charlie Kaufman's difficult struggle to adapt "The Orchid Thief" into a film. In addition Orlean romances with John Larochewhile Charlie enlists the help of his obnoxious twin brother Donald.
The film had been in development as far back as 1994.
Jonathan Demmebrought the project to Columbia Pictureswith Kaufman writing the script. Kaufman went through writer's blockand did not know what to think of "The Orchid Thief". In turn Kaufman wrote a script about his experience adapting "The Orchid Thief" into a screenplay. Tom Hankswas at one point set for the role of Charlie Kaufman while John Turturrowas approached to portray Laroche. Jonze signed to direct and filming finished in June 2001. "Adaptation." received positive reviews and critical acclaim, as well as outstanding success at the 75th Academy Awards, 60th Golden Globe Awardsand 56th British Academy Film Awards.
:"Note: The following is told in chronological order."
John Larocheand his wife run a successful Floridanursery, but tragedy strikes and Laroche's wife, mother and uncle are involved in a car accident. Laroche's mother and uncle die, but his wife goes into a coma, divorcing Laroche once she gains consciousness. Hurricane Andrewcomes one month later, destroying Laroche's home and everything he owns. Meanwhile, local Seminoles hire Laroche due to his vast knowledge of flowers and orchidpoaching. However, the Seminoles only use the extract of the Ghost Orchid for drug use, and not for tribal ceremonials as Laroche thought.
Laroche is caught at the
Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, ensuing into a trial and catching the interest of "New Yorker" journalist Susan Orlean. Laroche and Susan become great friends, with Susan writing " The Orchid Thief". Laroche and Susan then become romantically involved, while Susan is still married, albeit unhappily, in New York. "The Orchid Thief" is then optioned by Columbia Pictures.
During the filming of "
Being John Malkovich", Charlie Kaufmanis hired to write the screenplay. At the same time Charlie is going through melancholic depressionand his obnoxious twin brother Donald moves into his house. Donald decides to become a screenwriter like Charlie, and visits the seminars of Robert McKee. Charlie wants to adapt the script into a faithful adaptation of "The Orchid Thief", hoping to impress Susan. However, he realizes that there is no narrativeinvolved and finds it impossible to turn the book into a film, going through a serious case of writer's block.
spec scriptfor a cliché psychological thrillersells for over one million dollars, while Charlie accidentally starts writing his script with self-reference. Already well over his deadline with Columbia Pictures, Charlie (from Los Angeles, California) visits Susan in New York for advice on the screenplay. In New York Charlie finds that he is not courageous enough to meet Susan, leaving without consulting with her. Charlie visits a McKee seminar in New York, gaining advice from McKee, and bringing Donald to assist with the story structure. Donald suggests having sex, a car chaseand drugs for the climax. Charlie and Donald follow Susan to Florida where she meets Laroche. The film indeed ends with Susan and Laroche taking the Ghost Orchid drug, having sex, a car chase involving Susan and Charlie and with Donald being shot and killed, and Laroche getting eaten alive by an alligator. His writer's block broken, Charlie finally summons up the courage to tell his former girlfriend, Amelia, that he is in love with her. He finishes his script, with Gérard Depardieuin mind to portray him in the film.
Charlie Kaufman: A screenwriter going through melancholic depressionand writer's blockwho is hired to write a script for " The Orchid Thief". He is afraid to kiss his girlfriend Amelia. Charlie has failed romances with Susan, Valerie and Alice the Waitress.
Donald Kaufman: Charlie's obnoxious brother. Donald has failed at various get-rich-quick-schemes in the past and decides to become a screenwriter like Charlie. Donald visits the seminars of Robert McKee and writes a cliché psychological thriller spec scripttitled "The Thr3e". Marty sells the script to a studio and Donald is set to be a millionaire before he's killed in the climax.
Meryl Streepas Susan Orlean: A journalist and author from " The New Yorker". She is fascinated by Laroche's trial in Floridaand intends to write a piece about it. She becomes romantically involved with Laroche.
*Chris Cooper as
John Laroche: An eccentric orchidpoacher working for the local Seminole Indian tribe. Laroche considers himself "the smartest man I know" and has a unique knowledge of Charles Darwin, fossils and flowers. He lost his front teeth after a car accident wherein his mother and uncle were killed. His ex-wife divorced him after waking up from a coma. Laroche also ran a successful porn website before being killed by an alligator.
Cara Seymouras Amelia Kavan: A violinist and Charlie's girlfriend. She leaves him for a man named David after her unsuccessful relationship with Charlie. In the end, Charlie finally summons the courage to tell her that he loves her. She admits that she loves him, too.
Brian Coxas Robert McKee: A creative writing instructor who is widely known for his popular "Story Seminar". McKee is heavily against voice-overs and considers "Casablanca" (1942) to be the finest screenplay ever written.
Tilda Swintonas Valerie Thomas: A studio executivefrom Columbia Pictureswhom Charlie is attracted to. Valerie is the one who hires Charlie to write the script.
Ron Livingstonas Marty Bowen: Charlie's obnoxious agent who personally suggest Charlie to get help from Donald when writing "The Orchid Thief".
Maggie Gyllenhaalas Caroline Cunningham: A make-up artistand Donald's girlfriend.
Judy Greeras Alice: A waitress at the local caféwhere Charlie often dines. Charlie tries to ask her out on a date. Tom Hankswas originally set for the double role of Charlie and Donald Kaufman, while "Variety" was convinced Donald was a real person. Cage took the role for a $5 million salary,cite news | author = Claude Brodesser; Charles Lyons; Dana Harris | url = http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117785470 | title = Cage has "Adaptation" inclination | publisher = Variety | date = 2000-08-23| accessdate = 2008-04-05] and wore a fatsuitduring filming. [cite news | author = Stax | url = http://movies.ign.com/articles/057/057663p1.html | title = "Hey, Fatboy!" | publisher = IGN| date = 2001-05-03| accessdate = 2008-04-05] Streep previously expressed dire interest in the role before being cast, and took a salary cut in recognition of the film's budget. [cite news | author = Claude Brodesser | url = http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117786034 | title = Streep eyes "Adaptation" | publisher = Variety | date = 2000-09-06| accessdate = 2008-04-05] John Turturrowas approached to portray John Laroche.cite web | author = Greg Dean Schmitz| title = Greg's Preview - Adaptation. | publisher = Yahoo!| url = http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/preview/1808402845 | accessdate = 2008-04-13] Cooper heavily considered turning down Laroche, but accepted it after his wife's persistence. [cite news | author = Claude Brodesser; Jill Tiernan; Geoffrey Berkshire| url = http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117883243.html?categoryid=1043&cs=1 | title = Backstage notes | publisher = Variety | date = 2003-03-23| accessdate = 2008-04-08] Albert Finney, Christopher Plummer, Terence Stampand Michael Cainewere considered for the role of Robert McKee, but McKee personally suggested Brian Coxtowards the filmmakers. [cite news | author = Lynn Smith | title = Being Robert McKee, both on screen and off| publisher = Los Angeles Times| date = 2002-11-03| accessdate = 2008-04-17] Litefootand Jay Tavarehave small roles as Seminole Indians. Catherine Keener, John Malkovich, Lance Acordand Spike Jonzehave uncredited cameos as themselves in scenes where Charlie Kaufman is on the set of " Being John Malkovich". John Cusackfilmed a cameo before it was deleted from the final cut of the film. [cite news | author = Stax | url = http://movies.ign.com/articles/317/317169p1.html | title = John Cusack Talks Shop | publisher = IGN| date = 2001-12-21| accessdate = 2008-04-05] More cameos include Doug Jones as Augustus Raymond Margaryfor a small scene when Susan fantasizes about the history of orchid poaching, Jim Beaveras Ranger Tony and David O. Russellas a "New Yorker" journalist.
The idea to do a film adaptation of Susan Orlean's "
The Orchid Thief" dates back to 1994. [cite news | author = Bill Desowittz | url = http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117871334 | title = Development players make personal choices | publisher = Variety | date = 2002-08-18| accessdate = 2008-04-05] Fox 2000purchased the film rights in 1997, [cite news | author = Oliver Jones | url = http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117760122 | title = Cruise in tune with "Shaggs" project | publisher = Variety | date = 1999-12-17| accessdate = 2008-04-05] eventually selling them to Jonathan Demme, who set the project at Columbia Pictures. Charlie Kaufmanwas hired to write the script, but went through writer's blockand did not know what to think of "The Orchid Thief". [cite news | author = Jonathan Bing | url = http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117794235 | title = Lit properties are still hottest tickets | publisher = Variety | date = 2001-02-26| accessdate = 2008-04-05] In turn, Kaufman wrote about his experience adapting the script through exaggerated events, and created a fictional "brother" named Donald Kaufman. Charlie even went as far as putting Donald's name on the script and dedicated the film to the fictional character. [cite news | author = Claude Brodesser | url = http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117757917 | title = Scribe revisiting reality | publisher = Variety | date = 1999-11-10| accessdate = 2008-04-05] By September 1999, Kaufman had written two drafts of the script, [cite news | author = Charlie Kaufman| url = http://www.beingcharliekaufman.com/adaptation.pdf | title = "Adaptation.": Second Draft | publisher = BeingCharlieKaufman.com | date = 1999-09-24| accessdate = 2008-04-16] and turned in another draft in November 2000. [cite news | author = Charlie Kaufman| url = http://www.beingcharliekaufman.com/adaptationnov2000.pdf | title = "Adaptation.": Revised Draft | publisher = BeingCharlieKaufman.com | date = 2000-11-21| accessdate = 2008-04-16]
Kaufman explained, "The idea of how to write the film didn't come to me until quite late. It was the only idea I had, I liked it, and I knew there was no way it would be approved if I pitched it. So I just wrote it and never told the people I was writing it for. I only told
Spike Jonze, as we were making "John Malkovich" and he saw how frustrated I was. Had he said I was crazy, I don't know what I would have done." [cite news | author = Michael Fleming | url = http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117876083 | title = What will follow film success for Eminem? | publisher = Variety | date = 2002-11-14| accessdate = 2008-04-05] In addition Kaufman stated, "I really thought I was ending my career by turning that in!" [cite news | author = Stax | url = http://movies.ign.com/articles/355/355413p1.html | title = Charles Kaufman Talks Shop | publisher = IGN| date = 2002-03-13| accessdate = 2008-04-05] "Adaptation." went on fast trackin April 2000, with Kaufman mildly rewriting the script.cite news | author = Michael Fleming | url = http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117780287 | title = Brothers in a Conundrum; Rat Pack lives | publisher = Variety | date = 2000-04-06| accessdate = 2008-04-05] Scott Brake of " IGN" leaked the script on the Internetin June 2000, [cite news | author = Scott Brake | url = http://movies.ign.com/articles/035/035453p1.html | title = Script Review of Charlie Kaufman's "Adaptation" | publisher = IGN| date = 2000-06-08| accessdate = 2008-04-08] as did Drew "Moriarty" McWeeny of " Ain't It Cool News" in October. [cite news | author = Drew "Moriarty" McWeeny | url = http://www.aintitcool.com/display.cgi?id=7162 | title = Moriarty Rumbles About "Adaptation", "The Royal Tenenbaums", and "Catch Me If You Can"! | publisher = Ain't It Cool News| date = 2000-10-10| accessdate = 2008-04-17] Columbia Pictures committed to North America distribution only after Intermedia came aboard to finance the film in exchange for international distribution rights. [cite news | author = Charles Lyons | url = http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117801603 | title = Helmers let out a rebel yell | publisher = Variety | date = 2001-06-18| accessdate = 2008-04-05] Filming started in late March 2001 in Los Angeles, California, and finished by June.
Columbia Pictureshad at one point announced a late 2001 theatrical release date. "Adaptation." opened on December 6, 2002 in the United States for a limited release. The film then was released nationwide on February 14, 2003, earning $1,130,480 in its opening weekend in 672 theaters. "Adaptation." went on to gross $22.5 million in North America and $10.3 million in foreign countries, coming at a total of $32.8 million. [cite web|url=http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=adaptation.htm|title=Adaptation. (2002)|publisher= Box Office Mojo|accessdate=2008-04-08] Based on 186 reviews collected by " Rotten Tomatoes", "Adaptation." received an average 90% overall approval rating; [cite web|url=http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/adaptation/|title=Adaptation (2002)|publisher= Rotten Tomatoes|accessdate=2008-04-08] the film was more balanced with the 31 critics in Rotten Tomatoes' "Top Critics", receiving a 84% approval rating. [cite web|url=http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/adaptation/?critic=creamcrop|title=Adaptation.: Rotten Tomatoes' Top Critics|publisher= Rotten Tomatoes|accessdate=2008-04-08] By comparison, Metacriticcalculated an average score of 83 from 40 reviews. [cite web|url=http://www.metacritic.com/video/titles/adaptation?q=Adaptation| title=Adaptation. (2002): Reviews|publisher= Metacritic|accessdate=2008-04-08] Roger Ebertof the " Chicago Sun-Times" believed the film was something "That leaves you breathless with curiosity, as it teases itself with the directions it might take. To watch the film is to be actively involved in the challenge of its creation." [cite news | author = Roger Ebert| url = http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20021220/REVIEWS/212200302/1023 | title = Adaptation | publisher = Chicago Sun-Times| date = 2002-12-20| accessdate = 2008-04-11] Wesley Morrisof " The Boston Globe" thought "This is epic, funny, tragic, demanding, strange, original, boldly sincere filmmaking. And the climax, the portion that either sinks the entire movie or self-critically explains how so many others derail, is bananas." [cite news | author = Wesley Morris| url = http://www.boston.com/movies/display?display=movie&id=1810 | title = A revolutionary look at the evolution of creativity | publisher = The Boston Globe| date = 2002-12-20| accessdate = 2008-04-11] David Ansenof " Newsweek" felt Meryl Streephad not "been this much fun to watch in years", [cite news | author = David Ansen| url = http://www.newsweek.com/id/66762 | title = Meta-Movie Madness | publisher = Newsweek| date = 2002-12-09| accessdate = 2008-04-12] while Mike Clark of " USA Today" gave a largely negative review, mainly criticizing the ending: "Too smart to ignore but a little too smugly superior to like, this could be a movie that ends up slapping its target audience in the face by shooting itself in the foot." [cite news | author = Mike Clark | url = http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/reviews/2002-12-05-adaptation_x.htm | title = Cage's "Adaptation"? Sorry, Charlie | publisher = USA Today| date = 2002-12-05| accessdate = 2008-04-12]
Chris Cooper won the
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, while Nicolas Cage(Actor in a Leading Role) and Streep (Supporting Actress) were nominated. Charlie and Donald Kaufmanwere nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. Donald became the first truly fictitious person nominated for an Oscar. [cite web | url = http://imdb.com/Sections/Awards/Academy_Awards_USA/2003 | title = Academy Awards: 2003 | publisher = Internet Movie Database| accessdate = 2008-04-11] Cooper and Streep won their respective categories at the 60th Golden Globe Awards. Spike Jonze, Cage and Kaufman were nominated for awards while "Adaptation." was nominated for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy. [cite web | url = http://www.imdb.com/Sections/Awards/Golden_Globes_USA/2003 | title = Golden Globes: 2003 | publisher = Internet Movie Database| accessdate = 2008-04-12] Cage, Cooper and Streep received nominations at the 56th British Academy Film Awards, with Kaufman winning Best Adapted Screenplay. [cite web | url = http://www.imdb.com/Sections/Awards/BAFTA_Awards/2003 | title = BAFTA Awards: 2003 | publisher = Internet Movie Database| accessdate = 2008-04-12]
* [http://www.beingcharliekaufman.com/movies/adaptation.htm "Adaptation."] at BeingCharlieKaufman.com
*" [http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=adaptation.htm Adaptation.] " at
Box Office Mojo
* [http://www.susanorlean.com/articles/orchid_fever.html Susan Orlean's original article for "The New Yorker"]
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