Despite all of the strengths of the original novel, in 1987 director Rob Reiner took and somehow adapted a fantastic book into an even better film.
Its fans have included both United States President Bill Clinton and Pope John Paul II.
If he liked the screenplay he would buy it and make the movie. He sent me off to England to work with Richard Lester, who had just directed .
I worked with him for two weeks, rewrote it, sent it back to the studio head, who loved it and was fired.
‘The head of 20th Century Fox at that time liked it but didn’t know if it was a movie.
We made an arrangement whereby I owned the screenplay and he owned the book, or something like that.Norman Jewison, Robert Redford and even French auteur François Truffaut attempted to direct , yet they all failed to secure sufficient interest from studios or independent financiers.‘This is the kind of thing that would happen,’ explained Goldman.Morgenstern, and Goldman’s presentation is as an abridgement of that original work.It cuts out the parts that Goldman considers boring or unnecessary, and features a running commentary on what has been cut, kept or shortened from Morgenstern’s original.The grandson rolls his eyes, but the grandfather insists. ” He says, “I think you’re on to something.”’[viii] It is a very bold creative choice, one that retains the sense of commentary from the original novel but does it in a distinctly cinematic fashion.They act like a Greek chorus for the remainder of the film – the grandson objecting to unwanted plot twists or finding the ‘kissing parts’ boring, and the grandfather patiently working through the constant interruptions. It also cleverly navigates its way around any problems with immersion: it could be potentially catastrophic for a film to tell a story while simultaneously telling the audience that said story is not real, but deftly manages to pull it off.Then I bought it back myself.’[iii] At one point the Moscow Film Bureau had somehow gained a copy of Goldman’s screenplay and offered to produce the film in Russia.While Goldman did not turn down the offer out of hand, in the end he and the Russian producers could not agree on a director. All of those things mixed together and I thought, you know, what I love about this is what I want to make a film about.’[v] Reiner travelled to New York with his partner Andy Schienman to personally pitch his take on the novel to William Goldman..’[i] Goldman’s original take on the classical fairy tale was first published in 1973.It was his eighth novel, although despite beginning his career as an author he had already made significant head-roads into writing for American cinema.