Last night, for some reason beyond imagining I saw the movie Blue Crush. Really, I was just flicking by when I saw a credit at the start of the film that made me stop and look. It said: “Based on the article Surfer Girls Of Maui by Susan Orlean.” Susan Orlean? That Susan Orlean? It appeared so. And the article really is beautiful. Better I think that the other article I’ll mention and well worth a read.
I was just interested to see what it became in the process of adaptation. You see, Orlean is probably as connected in my mind with that difficult science as any other human after her rather good 1995 article Orchid Fever was turned into a book that was then turned into one of my Favourite Movies Of All Time, Adaptation, which is in itself half about the impossible process of adapting a light, intelligent, deft New Yorker type piece of writing with no centre into a movie with concerns for narrative. The answer is thrilling. How did other hands handle the awesome task of attempting to turn Orlean’s fine prose into something palatable in a mainstream movie? Well, they up the ages of the girls from 15 to something er, greater and make it a Generic Love Story where the article specifically mentions their almost ‘girl with pony’-esque indifference to boys. The protagonist has an SUV where the article mentions the difficulty of transport and the impossbility of owning a car, any car. It gets the hair right though, the hair is important. Yet who am I to argue? Blue Crush cost about $30 million and took about $40 million in America; Adaptation cost approx $19 million and took about $22 million in America . Now you can talk about the after sales and DVD markets until you’re Blue in the face but the fact remains that there’s still a market for disposable stuff and it was a fun film to its merits. As Art Adaptation will live forever (or at least a very long time) wheras it’s likely that the limited appeal of Blue Crush has already peaked. But I sorta still wish they’d made the film about the 14 or 15 year old girls who couldn’t afford cars, came from single parent families, lived in shacks and whose freedom and escape was surfing all day, “snapping back and forth across the waves”.