‘Bright Star’ screenplay goes adapted

Posted by · 2:40 pm · January 4th, 2010

(from left) Abbie Cornish and Ben Wishaw in Bright StarSteve Pond sure is getting a nice bunch of scoops today.  Mainly because, I imagine, he’s doing the dilligence of looking over the ballots and accompanying eligibility forms, which so often tend to reveal last minute category shockers, something I’ve been meaning to do for a few days now.

Anyway, you might remember a few years ago when Stephen Gaghan’s “Syriana” was lighting up the adapted screenplay circuit.  In December of 2005, the Academy convened and determined that the script was original since it strayed so far away from Robert Baer’s non-fiction “See No Evil,” and since it had no real obligation to let its finding be known to the campaign or the participants until the reminder sheets went out, it was over a month before the news broke.

A similar situation has met Jane Campion and her screenplay for “Bright Star.” Pond reports that the screenplay has been ruled adapted, not original, virtually dashing any sliver of hope that the film would pop up in a writing category.

Writes Pond:

Apparition was reportedly informed of the decision after the company had already taken out ads promoting the film in the original-screenplay category.

Campion was inspired to write the film both by Keats’ poetry and by a biography of the poet by Andrew Motion. The film’s story is told from the point of view of Brawne, of whom very few records survive; her character was largely invented by Campion, as were the details of the relationship between the two.

Although Campion makes use of Keats’ poetry and letters, the writer-director did not adapt any existing material, because there is none that tells the story of Keats and Brawne in any depth.

But an executive committee of the writers branch determined that the film should be considered an adaptation…

No further explanation was given, but one is most certainly, I should think, warranted. Chalk it up to AMPAS antics volume number 2814.

→ 25 Comments Tags: , , | Filed in: Daily

25 responses so far

  • 1 1-04-2010 at 2:47 pm

    Nel said...

    I shouldn’t admit to this but I have read Motion’s biog and the words WTF…come to mind in regards to the Academy’s decision. It is obvious to say the least they have not read the Motion’s biography. It is a beautiful film and I suppose history will be its reward.
    Truly mind boggling decision.

  • 2 1-04-2010 at 2:55 pm

    Bryan said...

    But Milk was an original screenplay???

  • 3 1-04-2010 at 3:00 pm

    Louis said...

    My thoughts exactly, Bryan.

  • 4 1-04-2010 at 3:01 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    That’s ludicrous. Research is not equivalent to adaptation, and Campion has stressed in multiple interviews that Motion’s biography merely prompted her interest in the subject of Keats.

    If “Milk” could use a 1984 documentary as a starting point and still be declared original, Campion should have the same leeway.


  • 5 1-04-2010 at 3:35 pm

    Bryan said...

    Well, it better win costume design. Damn shame.

  • 6 1-04-2010 at 4:23 pm

    m1 said...

    That is DEFINITELY original. Using something as a reference does not make a screenplay adapted.

  • 7 1-04-2010 at 4:44 pm

    Blake said...

    I actually think it would stand a better chance of getting into adapted rather than original- with (500) Days of Summer, The Messenger, A Serious Man, Up, Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Avatar, and The White Ribbon all fighting for original.

    In adapted, there are only 3 sure things: An Education, Precious, and Up in the Air. I would think Bright Star has a chance against District 9, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and A Single Man.

  • 8 1-04-2010 at 4:47 pm

    Glenn said...

    I was actually going to say what Blake said. Adapted is far less full this year and “Syriana” did pop up in the original category after the same thing happened, right?

    Still, this is as crazy as calling “Gangs of New York” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” original.

  • 9 1-04-2010 at 4:55 pm

    The Other James D. said...

    It’s as if there’s some conscious effort to sodomize this movie at every given opportunity this season.

  • 10 1-04-2010 at 5:01 pm

    Erik 815 said...

    I agree with the decision. I also feel that the Hurt Locker should be in adapted, as it is based on a real war, Inglorious Basterds should be adapted, as it features Hitler, about whom books have been written, Avatar, because Cameron wrote it over a decade ago, and then based his screenplay on that screenplay, Up, because it has talking dogs so its techically a remake of Look Who’s Talking Now, and A Serious Man, because the screenplay was based on thoughts which originally formed in the Coens’ heads before they were adapted into a screenplay.

  • 11 1-04-2010 at 6:12 pm

    Andrew said...

    Bright Star is not adapted and Milk was. At least Bright Star is getting some exposure! I read at the top about Apparition’s campaigning in original screenplay. What campaigning??? I havent seen any

  • 12 1-04-2010 at 6:36 pm

    Ben M. said...

    Another one that I think was the wrong category (though like Bright Star wasn’t getting nominated anyway) is Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans as adapted. Granted I haven’t seen the old Bad Lieutenant but I hear this film has nothing to do with that and was written as original screenplay called “Port of Call New Orleans” and only had the Bad Lieutenant named slapped on for marketing since the producer had the rights to the title, I never saw a “based on the screenplay” by credit in that film.

    By that same token wouldn’t Inglorious Basterds- which took a title from an old film which helped inspire it also be considered adapted.

  • 13 1-04-2010 at 7:10 pm

    Patricia said...

    Well said, Erik 815. Someone had to have enough guts to call out those other imposters.

  • 14 1-04-2010 at 7:43 pm

    Erik 815 said...

    You’re damn right! I calls em as I sees em. I’m a bit concerned about the supposed frontrunners according to Steve Pond (via Sasha Stone):

    “The original-screenplay category has more contending films, 153 as opposed to 106 adaptations. As usual, though, the competition is stronger in the adapted-screenplay category, meaning it’ll be harder for “Bright Star” to break into a field whose frontrunners include “Up in the Air,” “An Education,” “Precious,” “Julie & Julia,” “A Single Man,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and “District 9.””

    I’ll gladly consider those first three contenders, and I have high hopes but average expectations for District 9. I’m not convinced about a Single Man, though (is it that good, and does the film have enough steam?), was not very impressed by the Fantastic Mr. Fox as an adaptation (notwithstanding the quality of the film itself), and god help us if Julie and Julia gets in over Bright Star (yes, Ephron achieved a technically impressive feat, but is also bogged down by some terribly uninspired stuff in the Julie bits especially. A scene where Julie watches tv for 3 minutes? Really?? Another one where she watches the SNL sketch for another 3 minutes? Really?!? The “subtle” scene with her rich powerlunch-cellphone friends? Really?!?!?)

  • 15 1-04-2010 at 7:52 pm

    JJ said...

    Whether or not it’s Original or Adapted, as far as OSCAR goes …

    … I’m ecstatic for the Adapted ruling.

    Hello people, there are only 3 sure bets in Adapted, ‘Up in the Air’, ‘Precious’, & ‘An Education’ – while Original is littered with strong hopefuls.

  • 16 1-04-2010 at 8:01 pm

    Kevin said...

    This probably isn’t the place for it, but I just wanted to tell you Kris that I saw a newspaper advert for The Lovely Bones with you quoted on it. Something like, “One of the best films of the year!” (followed by Kris Tapley, InContention.com). That struck me as pretty cool. Oh, and I live in Australia so that was doubly cool.

  • 17 1-04-2010 at 8:07 pm

    JJ said...

    Anyone know what STAR TREK is in AMPAS? Original or Adapted?

  • 18 1-04-2010 at 8:38 pm

    Steve Pond said...

    JJ – According to AMPAS, Star Trek is adapted.

  • 19 1-04-2010 at 9:11 pm

    JJ said...


  • 20 1-04-2010 at 9:33 pm

    Bing147 said...

    These people are idiots. They’re the same people who declare that Star Trek and Borat are adapted because they’re based on characters from another medium and then declare that the Barbarian Invasions is original even though its a sequel to another Oscar nominated film.

  • 21 1-04-2010 at 10:55 pm

    JP said...

    I am going to say that “Single Man” is that good, but may not have enough steam. It is easily one of the most profound experiences I’ve had in a theater all year. And the way they brought all that inner dialogue to the screen through light, color and subtle face changes was rapturous.

    But my opinion may be invalid since I found The Hurt Locker boring and pedestrian.

  • 22 1-05-2010 at 3:21 am

    Andrew2 said...

    Still think that any publicity for Bright Star is good publicity…What happens to the AMPAS voters who have already returned their ballots??

  • 23 1-05-2010 at 5:12 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Bing: Quite so. And then “Before Sunset” is inexplicably categorized as adapted … the inconsistency of it all boggles the mind.

  • 24 1-05-2010 at 6:05 am

    JJ said...

    JP …. no, not invalid whatsoever.

    ‘A Single Man’ moved me. I sat in the seat going ‘wow, that was an experience’.

    ‘The Hurt Locker’, while well directed, crafted, & acted, bored me to tears; started looking at my watch with 45 minutes remaining in the film.

  • 25 1-05-2010 at 2:46 pm

    SmitheeGal said...

    These are the AMPAS guidelines for adapted.

    Screenplays based on previously produced or published material including: novels, non-fiction books, stories, graphic novels, comics, plays,films, TV series, radio broadcasts,songs, sequels, prequels, remakes AND
    screenplays based on unpublished material not written for the screen including journals, galley proofs and other similar materials.

    Is there really ANY original idea left??
    Don’t think so.