The Movie Business

Salman Rushdie on Adaptations

At this year’s Academy Awards, it seemed like everything was borrowed. In an article for The Guardian, Salman Rushdie explores what an adaptation means, and whether or not any of this year’s contenders were actually any good at it. He starts with Benjamin Button, that epic spun out of an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story. While Fitzgerald’s original, Rushdie notes, grounded Button in private life, the movie “becomes involved in so many of the public events of his time that the picture might almost have been called Zelig in Reverse, or perhaps Forrest Gump Goes Backwards.” And of the much loved Slumdog, Rushdie criticizes Danny Boyle’s “slum tourism” approach, which he says is loaded with colonialist undertones. Rushdie writes: “As individuals, as communities, as nations, we are the constant adapters of ourselves, and must constantly ask ourselves the question wherein does our finchness lie: what are the things we cannot ever give up unless we wish to cease to be ourselves?”