Classic, generation-defining novels are typically pretty tricky source material to adapt into films. Some books simply mean more to some people than others. Fans develop such deeply personal connections with characters that it becomes nearly impossible for a film to live up to fans’ lofty expectations. Unless the adaptation is perfect it can only do harm to the novel’s legacy. Basically, by taking on such a task you’re setting yourself up for failure.
For example, look at “The Great Gatsby“—the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel is arguably one of the greatest and most iconic novels in American history, yet every time it’s adapted for film it falls short. The book has been adapted seven times dating back from the silent film era to TV, Korean cinema and soon enough a 3D-version filmed in Australia.
Jack Kerouac’s beat generation novel “On the Road” is one of these tricky subjects. It’s one of the most highly regarded and beloved novels in American literature. For this reason the upcoming Walter Salles film adaptation will be judged extremely critically. You can already hear fans saying, “Kristen fucking Stewart? Really?”
I’ll save my judgement until after I see the film, but from the looks of the trailer, it appears to be — dare I say — promising. Starring Sam Reilly, Garrett Hedlund and the aforementioned Stewart, this short glimpse of Kerouac’s adventures is intriguing, and if the many celebrity cameos don’t get in the way it has a chance to join the rarest of breeds — a good adaptation of a great novel.