George R.R. Martin Doubles Down on Issues With Screenwriters Making Adaptations Their Own

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In a recent post on his personal blog, acclaimed author George R.R. Martin reiterated his concerns regarding Hollywood adaptations and the tendency of screenwriters to stray from the source material. This isn’t the first time Martin has expressed these sentiments; he previously discussed the issue during a conversation with fellow author Neil Gaiman in 2022.

Martin highlighted the persistent problem of screenwriters and producers feeling the need to “make stories their own,” regardless of the original source material. He lamented the lack of faithfulness to written works, citing examples across various literary genres and authors, from Stan Lee to J.R.R. Tolkien.

Despite acknowledging occasional successful adaptations, Martin emphasized that more often than not, attempts to “improve” upon the source material lead to inferior results. He criticized the common refrain of “the book is the book, the film is the film,” suggesting that it’s often used as a justification for deviating from the original story.

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However, Martin did commend FX’s recent adaptation of “Shogun” as a rare example of a faithful and successful adaptation. Despite his initial skepticism about revisiting the Clavell novel, he was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the new series, which he believes honors the source material without unnecessary alterations.

Reflecting on his previous discussion with Gaiman, Martin reiterated their shared disdain for the phrase “make it my own,” which is often used by creators to justify departing from the original work. Gaiman, who faced similar challenges with adaptations of his own work, echoed Martin’s sentiments, highlighting the frustration of seeing stories deviate from their roots.

Martin’s remarks shed light on an ongoing debate within the entertainment industry about the balance between creative interpretation and fidelity to the source material. As audiences continue to engage with adaptations across various media, the question of how faithful creators should remain to the original story remains a topic of discussion and contention.