Fishing for answers

Alfred Hitchcock said that the literary form that most resembles a movie is not the novel but the short story, since it is designed to be digested in one sitting. But the dilemma for moviemakers who adapt short stories is that they almost always need to beef up or expand the story so it can fill 90 minutes or more. (Novels, on the other hand, usually need to be trimmed or compressed for film.)

The Australian film Jindabyne is based on the story “So Much Water So Close to Home,” by the American writer Raymond Carver, who died in 1988 at the age of 50. The story was also employed in Robert Altman’s 1993 film Short Cuts, which used various Carver stories to flesh out an Altmanesque view of Los Angeles. Director Ray Lawrence (Lantana) and screenwriter Beatrix Christian are more aggressive adapters than Altman. They add many elements and alter others, starting with shifting the setting from the Pacific Northwest to southeastern Australia.


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