Bookish Topic Tuesday
Cloudstreet the Miniseries
Again cheating with the topic slightly, but it’s still related to books, this time a TV miniseries adaptation. So the first book I did on this blog was Cloudstreet, over two years ago now! And at the end of it, I mentioned the miniseries which was about to air, and I said I would try to go ahead and watch it, and now over two years later, I finally have!
So Tim Winton himself was one of the screenwriters for this adaptation, and I found his comments in the bonus features interesting. He thought he was the only one for the job, because everyone else felt the book was too sacred, and they wouldn’t be able to cut out stuff and alter things, thinking the book shouldn’t be changed. But for Winton, he was quite happen to change things up, and according to the director, Winton seemed to forget some of the stuff in the book, and whenever he (the director – Matthew Saville) said why don’t we go back to the book, Winton disagreed. Contrasted to Markus Zusak, who thought that he would be the worst person to adapt into a screenplay, because he didn’t want to compress the book he spent so long writing. I find this difference in attitude interesting between these two outstanding Australian writers.
So the miniseries was over 6 hours of content, over three parts. So at times it did sort of drag on a little bit, but it was still interesting. At times though it was a little hard for those who hadn’t read the book to understand what was really going on (well from what I could gather from people I watched it with), even for me (though it has been a while since I read the book mind you) I found some parts quite confusing. However, other sections where the ‘strange’ happenings with Fish, you are supposed to be a little confused, and wondering what is going on. If you didn’t read the book you may find the scattered scenes about the house’s past a bit confusing, if you were quite astute you would perhaps figure out what had happened, but given it’s left unsaid. But really there was no other way about it, and it’s not that big a plot point to ruin everything if you don’t understand.
The cast were pretty incredible, they all seemed to work very well, and were so wonderful for their roles. And my gosh, the two actors who played Fish Lamb did an amazing job, it would not be easy to take on a role like that, much less do it well, so their performances must be commended. And I loved how they basically created the house into a character, yeah that’s what happened in the book, but it was good to see that carried across. And the ‘mystical Aboriginal man’ definitely became more important here in this adaptation, which was good as well, helped explain a few things.
Overall it was a good adaptation, I can’t really think of too much that was cut out (again, that’s probably because of me reading it two years ago), obviously there were a few things, but because of the long six hour format, it meant that plenty of stuff was able to be preserved. However, I don’t think that it really has that wide an appeal to be honest. It can be a bit slow, and some parts are a little ‘odd’. I liked it, I didn’t love it though, but I’m happy to have watched it, and see it translated to the small screen.
What’s your take on the adaptation? Was it a good one? Too long? Not long enough? And what do you think about authors doing their own screenplays? Does that add extra authenticity, or should they let someone else come and and do their own take?