Recently, The Modern Word sponsored an “Adaptation” contest:

Imagine one of your favorite books has been turned into a movie, and write a review. The book in question may be any text – fiction, non-fiction, short stories, even a comic book; but it should be reasonably well-known. If it has already been filmed, be sure to compare the old version with the “new.” You may feature actual directors and actors, or you may invent your own fictional talent. Be creative – let your review explore the cinematic possibilities of the text itself!

Over 50 delusional film critics entered this contest, with reviews ranging from absurd parodies to critiques so realistic we had to check the IMDB to be sure we weren’t being spoofed. Although there were some delightfully offbeat selections, a few directors and authors emerged as clear favorites – Terry Gilliam, Darren Aronofsky, and David Cronenberg lead the directors, while Alan Moore, Thomas Pynchon, and Gene Wolfe lead the authors. (In fact, based on the results of this contest, the ideal movie would be Alan Moore’s The Watchmen filmed by Terry Gilliam, starring Johnny Depp and Bill Murray, with a script by Charlie Kaufmann. Remember, you heard it here.)

On the more “delightfully offbeat” side, we had Dan Geddes re-imagining The Book of Revelation as Disney’s next Fantasia, Wally Bubelis appraising Keanu Reeves’ Borges in The Aleph, Sarah Schiff proposing a Portnoy’s Complaint filmed by Paul Reubens, Bob William’s jazzy take on Woody Allen’s kvetching Hamlet, and Michael Helsem’s bizarre entry, which had Barbara Streisand starring in the Laura (Riding) Jackson life story with music by Frank Zappa. There were three alternate versions of “The Lord of the Rings,” two imaginary concert movies, and a holographic piece of cinema projected back from the future.

In the end, each judge submitted three top choices, and the winners were selected by a simple tally. Entries were evaluated on creativity and originality, literary merit, and how well they reflected the “spirit” of the contest and the works featured on The Modern Word.

And the Oscar Goes To....

1. Trans-Plant
A film of Kobo Abé’s “Dendrocacalia”
Directed by Wong Kar-wai
Review by Craig Hasbrouk

2. Life: The Movie – an Eco of Perec
A film of George Perec’s Life: A User’s Manual
Directed by Umberto Eco
Review by Ronald Flanagan

3. Just Because You’re Paranoid
A film of Joseph McElroy’s Lookout Cartridge
Directed by Steve Villa
Review by Garrett Rowlan

Honorable Mentions:

Movies We’d Most Like to See Actually Pulled Off:

Euchrid the Mute and Irony
A film of Nick Cave’s And the Ass Saw the Angel
Directed by Alain Robbe-Grillet
Review by Josh Armstrong

The Public Burning
A film of Robert Coover’s The Public Burning
Directed by Terry Gilliam
Review by Lucas Klein

Best Parody:

Bay’s V for Vendetta – a Star-Spangled Treat
A film of Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta
Directed by Michael Bay
Review by Michael A. Cavagnaro

Best Hope for a Lovecraft Film Done Right:

The Music of Erich Zann
A film of H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Music of Erich Zann?” Directed by Brad Anderson, music by David Tibet
Review by Andrew Albert


The First Place winner will receive a package of four books as a prize: Neal Stephenson’s Quicksilver, the Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases (with Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, China Miéville, and others), Nick Cave’s And the Ass Saw the Angel, and KJ Bishop’s The Etched City. (Courtesy of William Morrow, Night Shade Books, Henry Rollins’ 2.13.61, and Prime Books respectively.)

The Second Place winner will receive Stephenson’s Quicksilver and the Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases.

Third Place winner will receive the Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases.

All winners, including honorable mentions, will remain on The Modern Word in perpetuity, at stable URLs, until the end of the world as we know it.

Your friendly neighborhood judges:

Richard Behrens
Andrew Duncan
Chris Gross
Allen B. Ruch
Richard Ryan