EXCLUSIVE: No doubt about it. A lot of talented folks in any creative endeavor are incredibly protective of their stories. Why wouldn’t they be? After all, they likely spent dozens and dozens of hours bringing these stories to life, and in adapting for the big screen, sometimes the core of that essence is lost. Writer Alan Moore was infamously embittered towards Hollywood for that sort of thing, and oftentimes, fans of the source material are all the more protective than the authors.
This is especially the case with Annihilation author Jeff VanderMeer. The film of the same name from Ex Machina helmer Alex Garland is one that, from what we’ve heard, has received pretty solid reviews from critics thus far. However, while the film is solid, there is no doubt that it’s kind of a different beast from its source material (though we won’t get into why, because of spoilers).
Speaking with our own Gig Patta, VanderMeer discussed his overall approach to collaborating with Garland, and it’s very clear that he understands the need to make changes, as well as the unique vision that each filmmaker brings to the source material. So adamant was he that, when Gig referred to Annihilation as his film, VanderMeer was quick to correct him, pointing out that it was really Garland’s film.
Here’s what VanderMeer had to say:
“I just wanted to give him the freedom to write the screenplay he wanted to write. I’ve seen Ex Machina and realized he had a really interesting point of view. That was a movie that gets better and better and better. The third act was amazing. It’s remarkable. As a junkie for science fiction and fantasy films, that’s usually where these films fall apart. It was such a great movie.
As somebody who has done a Halo tie-in novel and a Predator tie-novel, I felt really great in those situations. There are different kinds of translations obviously. They gave me the freedom to do whatever I wanted to in those universes.
I really didn’t think of it in that way. I really wanted to see the interest in film. I didn’t want to see a faithful film. Another thing is that there’s a lot of interiority in Annihilation. There are a lot of things being setup for later in the series. So it doesn’t really makes sense to keep some of that stuff [for the film].”
Of course, this isn’t an approach that works for everyone. Quite often, fans of source material just want to see that material transliterated to the big screen. However, in this case, it seems like Garland’s adaptation seems less like an instance of adapting for the medium, and more of an instance of a filmmaker adding his unique spin to the premise.
What do you think of these different approaches to adaptation? Let us know your thoughts down below!
And keep an eye out for the upcoming full interview with Annihilation author Jeff VanderMeer!