Adapting Cosmopolis

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First aired on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight (08/06/12)

Any time a movie based on a book comes out, fans of the book want to know if the film will stay true to the text. However, Canadian director David Cronenberg, who has adapted several novels into films, argues that "to be faithful to the book, you have to betray the book."

"A book is not a movie, and some things you can do incredibly easy in a book, even if you're a bad writer like that interior monologue where you're inside of somebody's head. You can't do it all in cinema," he told CBC's George Stroumboulopoulos in a recent interview. "You often find people sort of reading the book to you while you watch the movie, like you're a kid at bedtime, and that to me is an admission of failure that you haven't found the cinematic equivalent."

cosmopolis-119.jpgHis latest page-to-screen adaptation is Cosmopolis, based on the novel by American writer Don DeLillo.  Published in 2003, it takes place in a single day, and follows the strange journey of a young, self-destructive billionaire investor in Manhattan.

Cronenberg was a fan of the book and says he was able to write the script in six days because of the quality of DeLillo's prose.

"It was the dialogue. It was so wonderful, and I just literally had my book and I had my computer, and I transcribed the dialogue and put it into a screenplay. And then I said to myself, 'Is this a movie, really?' And then I said, 'Yeah, it's a terrific movie.'"