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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
2,547 ( 42)
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

A paragraph from Charlie Kaufman's script "The Three" is shown at the very end of the credits. It reads: "We're all one thing, Lieutenant. That's what I've come to realize. Like cells in a body. 'Cept we can't see the body. The way fish can't see the ocean. And so we envy each other. Hurt each other. Hate each other. How silly is that? A heart cell hating a lung cell." - Cassie from THE THREE. There is a theory that claims that this paragraph actually reveals the hidden meaning of the film. That Donald, Susan, and Charlie are "The Three", and are all actually the same person. See more »

Goofs

When Susan talks about past orchid hunters, we see one in China being beaten to death. As his attacker stands, he pulls off his fake beard. 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

Meryl Streep's wardrobe designer is credited as "Mr. Streep's wardrobe" See more »

Connections

References Psycho (1960) See more »

Soundtracks

Alison
Written and Performed by Elvis Costello
Published by BMG Songs, Inc. o/b/o BMG Music Publishing Ltd.
Courtesy of Rhino Entertainment Company/Elvis Costello Music
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products and Courtesy of Elvis Costello Ltd.
Under license from Demon Music Group Ltd.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A Guide on "How To Write A Screenplay" and "How to Live Life"…
12 May 2007 | by Sergeant_TibbsSee all my reviews

Jonze and Kaufman have pulled it off again. Witty, surreal, brilliant, inventive, amazing and most of all; the most inspirational film I have ever seen. One of the best and definitive films of the 21st Century.

Nicolas Cage has two parts in this film, Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman, twin brothers. Both screen writers. Charlie is writing a screenplay based on a book called "The Orchid Thief" {a real book}. But nothing happens in it. He is finding it hard to stay true to the book when there's no events in the book. Writer's block. Meanwhile, Donald is storming through his screenplay which is about a serial killer with split personalities – a theme regularly used in cinema today. This is a take on how and why there are so many teen horrors with crappy ideas, while films that would appeal to a smaller audience are harder to conjure. During the course of Adaptation. we see Charlie's screenplay "The Orchid Thief" showing as it would if it became a film, featuring the author; Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep) and the books protagonist, John Laroche (Chris Cooper).

Charlie Kaufman {the character} is one of the most relatable characters in cinema for me. He too is looking for inspiration, something to help achieve his dreams, but he can't seem to find it. He waits for something to come and change his life for the good but never takes the opportunity. He worries about the most insignificant things that aren't life-changing. But the difference to me and Kaufman, is that he finds the way. In the end he has learnt his lesson and learnt how to live life. I am going to take the same advice. His narration gives us a very detailed guide of his feelings and thoughts.

Nic Cage gives a redeeming performance and one of the best of his career as both Charlie and Donald. They are very different personality-wise, Charlie being nervous and frustrated, while Donald is almost too upbeat about everything. His chemistry with himself is incredible its hard to believe they are the same. Chris Cooper delivers an Oscar winning performance, and it sure was worthy. Very fun character, taking away his seriousness whenever he should be serious. Meryl Streep is also flawless, giving a performance which she shows her moods appropriate to the scene.

Spike Jonze gives us a very interesting directional view. With a lot of tie-in's with Being John Malkovich (his previous film) to show us his own little world, where anything can happen. There are also a lot of tie-in's with the film itself in which Kaufman comes up with an idea for the script in the film, when it actually happens in this film (while his ideas are for "The Orchid Thief"). And, of course, there is the strange factor in which Charlie Kaufman has included himself in his screenplay… and in the film, the character Charlie Kaufman has included himself in his own screenplay. It is truly hard to believe how Kaufman comes up with this stuff.

This may lack the dark style of "Being John Malkovich", but they are in the same world. Don't miss this moving comedy and hilarious drama. I can't help but get lost in its wonder.

10/10


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