As the final credits rolled down the screen, the first thing that popped in my head as a initial reaction was, “what?” . As it became clear that the adaptation of The Orchid Thief that Charlie was creating was going to be based around his experiences in writing the adaptation, I found myself intrigued. I thought it was interesting that Charlie had a sort of foil in Donald who follows Hollywood clichés as instructed through his seminars, yet Charlie wants so much to write his script on flowers, and to remain true to Orlean’s book- yet he ends up straying from that entirely as he writes based on his experience of creation. While I like that this can speak to some of the things that we have already discussed- creating something new based off the original, perhaps containing a specific meaning ,etc. on a surface level, I found myself wondering as I watched..is this all now based off actual true events? The Orchid Thief is a real book, Susan Orleans is a real person (it says in the beginning based on the book by Susan Orleans) and Charlie Kauffman is too a real screenwriter who wrote the screenplay for Adaptation. Even as the film turned to the romance between Orleans and Laroche I still wondered to myself, hmm, did this happen? This all came to a screeching halt, however, when the scenes with Charlie and Donald fleeing a murder bent Orleans and an alligator attacked Laroche came about. Now I said, okay, maybe there was no real romance at all. I felt like during these moments, the film was satirizing the structure of film clichés (as it had done with Donald) and placed scenes that appeared to be influenced by Donald’s “thriller” style as the brothers came together and Charlie asked for his advice. Because of this, I thought it was going to turn out that this film was being watched as a version of the film Charlie had written (like a film within a film as well). Perhaps because Adaptation is commentary on the process of writing an adaptation that kind of thing is not needed and the audience watching Adaptation gets the intended fallacy. Though Charlie tried so hard in the beginning of the film to remain to Orleans original text and to get away from a character conflict and change that is what seems to be purposely done at the end of the day. Charlie grows, he learns from his experiences, his brother, and in the end he finally tells Amelia what he longs to say. I found this to be most interesting. In a film that speaks of adaptation and the world of film- it seems to say that such character development cannot be avoided. I particularly found the scene where Charlie goes to the New York McKee seminar telling. He poses the question of a struggle being left unresolved, to be “more of a reflection of the real world”, but McKee yells back
The real world? The real fucking world?
First of all, if you write a screenplay
without conflict or crisis, you'll bore
your audience to tears. Secondly:
Nothing happens in the real world? Are
you out of your fucking mind? …
If you can't find that stuff in life,
then you, my friend, don't know much
about life! And why the fuck are you
taking up my precious two hours with your
movie? I don't have any use for it! I
don't have any bloody use for it!
Perhaps this says, life is conflict, no matter what you are doing. His dialogue also pokes fun at the film itself in both these lines as well as McKee’s talk of voice overs. Mckee says
... and God help you if you use voice-
over in your work, my friends.
I will says that even though Charlie goes through development and changes the ending still leaves the audience to question “what happens next?”. Does Charlie’s screenplay make it? Is it a hit? Do he and Amelia actually get together and act on their feelings? I liked that the film managed to use “both sides of the coin” that seemed to be argued for throughout. Donald’s clichés and Charlie’s realistic take on the world.