Charlene D’Avanzo: A few days ago my answering machine recorded an unusual message – a film producer was interested in making a movie based on my book The Shark, The Girl, & The Sea. I considered the request for a half second and didn’t return the call.
The incident got me thinking about film versions of a book – when a written story, as a whole or in part – is the basis of a feature film. Sometimes the movie version is true to the work, other times it misses the mark by a mile. Many film theorists note that change is unavoidable and some argue that the idea of “accuracy” is meaningless.
Like books, Broadway plays have been adapted into films – some quite good. For example, the 1961 musical film West Side Story, inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, was a big hit. Shakespeare’s Hamlet inspired Disney’s The Lion King as well.
A couple of hours after my phone call I tried to imagine what the film adaptation of The Shark, The Girl, & The Sea would entail. I wrote the book to help readers better understand what sharks are and aren’t, and the challenges quickly piled up. First and foremost there is the Jaws legacy – grisly, ugly, and in your face. A core motivation behind my writing The Shark was to show that the world’s scariest predator has two legs and walk on land. Portrayal of actual sharks with that in mind would be very tricky.
There were other issues as well – including scenes on a large (300+ foot) oceanographic research ship and in underwater shark cages where divers on scuba can observe sharks with minimal risk – none impossible but each challenging and expensive.
While I didn’t get back to the film producer I have to admit it was entertaining, for few minutes, to envisage The Shark on the big screen.