February 16, 2012

Biographical adaptations: The truth is stranger than fiction

What do The Vow and My Week With Marilyn have in common? Quite a few things actually…

They are both based on true stories. They are both technically adaptations, as the true stories were recounted in a book before they made it to the big screen. And they are both showing in Australian cinemas this week.

The Vow is based on The Vow: The Kim and Krickitt Carpenter Story. The biography was written in 1996, and recounts a married couple’s experience of surviving a car accident. Krickitt suffered a serious head injury, which completely wiped her memory of meeting and marrying her husband Kim.

My Week With Marilyn is based on The Prince, The Showgirl and Me and My Week with Marilyn – both autobiographical tales by Colin Clark.

Colin Clark was a British writer and filmmaker whose first job after finishing university was on the film The Prince and the Showgirl (1957). Laurence Olivier directed and starred in the film, and the leading lady was none other than Marilyn Monroe.

The thing about biographical adaptations is that true stories very rarely have the typical movie-style happy ending. If conjured in the imagination of an author, or scripted straight for Hollywood, the stories are likely to be very different.

We all know that Marilyn Monroe’s life was as far from a fairytale, so I’m expecting that the film will have a very raw, humanistic quality – but what of Kim and Krickitt Carpenter’s story? Does Krickitt (renamed as Paige in the film) regain her memory? Is Rachel McAdams given the opportunity to relive the memorable Notebook scene, of running into the embrace of her long lost love?

Well I’m not going to ruin it for you – you’ll have to watch the movie to find out.

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