George R.R. Martin blasts most adaptions, praises Shōgun as standout

George R.R. Martin remains disappointed in the bulk of literary adaptations but did have praise for recent miniseries Shōgun.

Last Updated on June 3, 2024

George R.R. Martin

Adapting the work of anyone’s favorite book, comic, etc. is always a damning task. So rarely will the writer nail everything that a fan loves about the work…and that’s just what fans want: everything to be right. But that’s virtually an impossible feat – and George R.R. Martin is sick of writers even trying, saying they “never make it better.” In a new blog posted titled “The Adaptation Tango”, George R.R. Martin took adaptations to task, calling their scribes out for feeble attempts at making the project their own. “No matter how major a writer it is, no matter how great the book, there always seems to be someone on hand who thinks he can do better, eager to take the story and “improve” on it.   “The book is the book, the film is the film,” they will tell you, as if they were saying something profound.   Then they make the story their own. They never make it better, though.   Nine hundred ninety-nine times out of a thousand, they make it worse. Once in a while, though, we do get a really good adaptation of a really good book, and when that happens , it deserves applause.” With this, George R.R. Martin went on to name this year’s miniseries Shōgun – based on James Clavell’s novel – as a strong example of an adapted work, which was first brought to the screen via a stellar version in 1980.

George R.R. Martin also cited a 2022 Variety piece where he was quoted as saying, “There are changes that you have to make — or that you’re called upon to make — that I think are legitimate. And there are other ones that are not legitimate.” While that’s vague, almost certainly there is at least one example that came to mind for you as a “not legitimate” choice from the person behind the keyboard.

On the adaptation front, George R.R. Martin tackled a handful of Game of Thrones episodes including the stellar “Blackwater” and “The Lion and the Rose.” He, too, took on the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast for the TV series, which he called a “smart show” so must have been quite proud of his own adaptation.

What do you think makes a good adaptation? Where do you think most writers mess up?

Source: Not a Blog

About the Author

2005 Articles Published

Mathew is an East Coast-based writer and film aficionado who has been working with periodically since 2006. When he’s not writing, you can find him on Letterboxd or at a local brewery. If he had the time, he would host the most exhaustive The Wonder Years rewatch podcast in the universe.