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Adaptation. (2002)

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A lovelorn screenwriter becomes desperate as he tries and fails to adapt 'The Orchid Thief' by Susan Orlean for the screen.

Director:

Spike Jonze

Writers:

Susan Orlean (book), Charlie Kaufman (screenplay)
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Popularity
3,067 ( 51)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 64 wins & 100 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Nicolas Cage ... Charlie Kaufman / Donald Kaufman
Tilda Swinton ... Valerie Thomas
Meryl Streep ... Susan Orlean
Chris Cooper ... John Laroche
Jay Tavare ... Matthew Osceola
Litefoot ... Russell (as G. Paul Davis)
Roger Willie ... Randy
Jim Beaver ... Ranger Tony
Cara Seymour ... Amelia Kavan
Doug Jones ... Augustus Margary
Stephen Tobolowsky ... Ranger Steve Neely (scenes deleted)
Gary Farmer ... Buster Baxley
Peter Jason ... Defense Attorney
Gregory Itzin ... Prosecutor
Curtis Hanson ... Orlean's Husband
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Storyline

While his latest movie Being John Malkovich (1999) is in production, screenwriter Charlie Kaufman is hired by Valerie Thomas to adapt Susan Orlean's non-fiction book "The Orchid Thief" for the screen. Thomas bought the movie rights before Orlean wrote the book, when it was only an article in The New Yorker. The book details the story of rare orchid hunter John Laroche, whose passion for orchids and horticulture made Orlean discover passion and beauty for the first time in her life. Charlie wants to be faithful to the book in his adaptation, but despite Laroche himself being an interesting character in his own right, Charlie is having difficulty finding enough material in Laroche to fill a movie, while equally not having enough to say cinematically about the beauty of orchids. At the same time, Charlie is going through other issues in his life. His insecurity as a person doesn't allow him to act upon his feelings for Amelia Kavan, who is interested in him as a man. And Charlie's twin ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Charlie Kaufman writes the way he lives... With Great Difficulty. His Twin Brother Donald Lives the way he writes... with foolish abandon. Susan writes about life... But can't live it. John's life is a book... Waiting to be adapted. One story... Four Lives... A million ways it can end. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, sexuality, some drug use and violent images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Sony Pictures

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Latin

Release Date:

14 February 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Orchid Thief See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$19,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$384,478, 8 December 2002, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$22,245,861, 20 April 2003
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TV)

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Donald refers to "Flowers for Algernon" as a film about flowers (although Donald admits that he had never seen the film). Charlie tells Donald that "Flowers for Algernon" was neither about flowers, nor a film. While Charlie is completely right that "Flowers for Algernon" is not about flowers, he is only technically correct that it is not a movie. When the novel was adapted into a film in 1968, it was retitled Charly (1968). Cliff Robertson won an Academy Award for Best Actor for playing the title character. A television remake of Flowers for Algernon (2000) was made thirty years later. See more »

Goofs

When Susan Orlean and John LaRoche are lost in the swamp, the light is overcast both when John is sitting and when he wades off, but Susan is standing beside him in bright sunlight. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Charlie Kaufman: [voiceover] Do I have an original thought in my head? My bald head. Maybe if I were happier, my hair wouldn't be falling out. Life is short. I need to make the most of it. Today is the first day of the rest of my life. I'm a walking cliché. I really need to go to the doctor and have my leg checked. There's something wrong. A bump. The dentist called again. I'm way overdue. If I stop putting things off, I would be happier. All I do is sit on my fat ass. If my ass wasn't fat I would ...
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Crazy Credits

The screenplay is credited as being written by both Charlie Kaufman and his fictional brother Donald. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Collaborators (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Wild Horses
Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards
Published by ABKCO Music, Inc.
Performed by The Rolling Stones
By Arrangement with ABKCO Records
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

From portals to orchids, Jonze and Kauffman strike again
9 January 2003 | by rivetbadtzSee all my reviews

Three years after director Spike Jonze and writer Charlie Kauffman's brilliantly offbeat masterpiece Being John Malkovich, comes their latest stream of conscious head trip. Yes folks, this one stars Nicholas Cage...and, Nicholas Cage.

The film starts off appropriately enough inside Being John Malkovich(or more precisely on the set of Being John Malkovich when Malkovich is inside his own head) But this is no sequel...no no, much more than that. We soon go back to the beginning. Not the beginning of the movie, but to the beginning of it all. To the dawn of the universe, a zero in the fabric of time itself hurling toward the deep chasm of entropy. From the primitive scribblings of early man to the manic late night scribblings of the neurotic Charlie Kauffman(played by Cage)

What we have here is a film about orchid thieves, high society New York socialites, screenwriters, identical twins, crocodiles, narcotic rings, and internet porn...err, more aptly put: a movie about a guy writing a movie about a book inside of another movie. Oh yeah, and it's based on a true story. Sound confusing?

Adaptation is the screen treatment of the best selling non fiction book The Orchid Thief. Only thing is the main character in the film is doing the adapting, and writing himself into script. In the film we go from early primordial man to Being John Malkovich's floor seven and a half...and somehow it all makes sense.

Is this an incoherent parable on the parasitic relationship between writers and their subjects? The evolution from single cell organisms to paleolithic glee? Or a look at how everything seems to have a purpose in life? Somehow between the obscure Hollywood industry injokes, Silence of the Lambs references, and celebrity Boggle tournaments I missed something.

Unfortunately by the third act(when the movie goes from non fiction to fiction) Adaptation unravels and ends up gravely falling apart. But perhaps that is the point. A film about a real life struggle to adapt a book that doesnt have much suspense in it, and the peril of trying to work some fictional thriller plotlines in at the last minute. Either way, hats off to Jonze and Kauffman for once again bringing us an audaciously unconventional idea and tearing down the box. All this from the adaptive skills of an orchid.

~.c//0ry


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