Recent news suggests that ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho, has had its rights bought out by a major movie studio. Originally a fear of the authors, it will curiously be one of the hardest adaptations of magical realism to film that anybody will ever see. Adapting a war story or an action novel is one thing, but how to portray a legendary magical realism novel on the big screen, so that newcomers can be enticed? This task seems almost impossible, and I hope that they get it right.
I can’t imagine Coelho giving the rights away without the strictest of confidence. Laurence Fishburne will reportedly play the eponymous character, which seems fitting given his performance as Morpheus in the cult classic ‘The Matrix.’ Not too much more has been mentioned, but I can imagine ‘Into the Wild’ star Emile Hirsch playing Santiago, if not for his boyish charm then for his imaginary resemblance to the impoverished shepherd. I can also imagine Navi Rawat, from the ‘O.C’ playing love interest Fatima.
I haven’t seen too many novels which have made a justifiable transgression into motion picture, and it’s not just for the obvious reason of squeezing 300 pages into a 2 hour film. Often, films change the novels in a way which really does take away from the author’s intention. Films are there to make money, and in this day and age often the artistic side of everything else takes a backseat.