Film Novelization: An Example

A friend of mine recently asked for an example of what a novelization looks like. Here’s one of mine that I did for one of my favorite movies. 

        Joon was a mess. The romantic escape effort had gone horribly awry, and the voices had come back just when Sam was about to take her away forever, where they could be together. The bus people just didn’t understand. No one understood, not even Benjamin. She sat on the narrow cardboard bed with her shoulders slumped, staring out the window of this special world for the mentally impaired, thinking maybe she could stay there forever, away from everyone like Benny. Away from people who would look at her like she was troubled. As if she was about to light something aflame and burn everyone to a crisp in a glorious conflagration. Her new “peers” were just as bad. They sat murmuring to themselves in broken sentences, flaunting their poor grammar skills, or simply screaming loudly in intermittent bursts of anger. Joon watched the patterns of light playing off the walls and wished she had her paint set.

At that moment, her older brother Benny was planning to break Joon out of the psychiatric ward of the EmmaShermanMemorialHospital that she had been committed into two nights earlier. When he had tried to visit, they had told him Joon refused to see him, or anyone. Benny knew from experience that Joon’s tempers could last days at a time, where she would do nothing but brood and paint. This time was different. This time, he had gone too far and he knew it. Kicking Sam out had been the worst thing he could’ve possibly done. As he walked down the peachy painted halls towards the orderly staff room, he looked over at his newly enlisted partner in crime. Wearing fitted pinstripe trousers, a tailed jacket and a top hat, he looked more like a small boy playing dress up than an autistic man in his early twenties. Twelve hours ago, Sam had been his worst enemy, the pretender who had dared come into his home and take advantage of his sick baby sister. He had always viewed Joon as fragile, in a way that she couldn’t possibly understand the dangers of the world around her, and so she had to be protected. By him. Since he was fifteen, he hadn’t gone five minutes without worrying about her. Now his worrying self was in triple overdrive. But at least his blind stupidity was under control. He understood now that Joon needed Sam. And for better or worse, he, Benny, needed Joon.

Thomas was the only way they could get in to see Joon. As a poker friend, he wasn’t the most reliable person. But in this case, his position as a staff member at ESM made him invaluable. Unfortunately, the only thing he could tell them was Joon’s room number, which was situated in a restricted wing of the hospital, behind a locked gate. But fortunately for them, Sam had his hat. After a brief scare during which Sam had to throw himself in the path of several guards in order to distract them, sacrificing himself to being thrown out of the hospital, Benny found himself at the door of room 335.

Benny stepped up to the small square window where he could just see Joon sitting immobile on the bed. “Joon,” he s “Look, I know you want to be alone but you don’t belong here.” Silence from Joon. He thought he should try something else. “Now, how would you like to try living in your own apartment?” he continued.

“An Apartment?” said Joon without turning from her vigil on the bed.

Hopeful, Benny answered “Yeah, there’s an apartment available in Ruthie’s building.”

“You’d let me live in an apartment?” she scoffed in disbelief.

“That’s up to you. I’m through making those decisions for you.” he promised. But somehow that didn’t seem like enough. “Listen, I… I’m sorry I was such a jerk, and about Sam I was wrong.” He shook his head, “I was dead wrong.”

“I scared him away,” said Joon in a nerveless voice.

Ah, so that was the thing holding her back. “No you didn’t.” Benny hurried to assure her. “He’s here.”

The still figure on the bed flinched. “He is not.”

“He’s here,” Benny argued “he got me in here. He’s somewhere in the building.”

Finally his sister turned her face to the window, the hurt showing in her eyes. “He’s not, you’d never let me have him.” She tossed her head in frustration. “God, why do you hate me so much?”

“I don’t hate you.” Benny was incredulous that she could feel that way.

“You need me to be sick.” Joon answered spitefully.

That was the perfect moment for Dr. Darbish to come around the corner and find Benny there under the most illegal of circumstances. Seeing Benny, the strictly attired African American woman slowed her steps and adopted an authoritative expression.

Dr. Darbish sighed. “Can you give me any reason why I shouldn’t have you arrested?” The psychiatrist opened the door leading into room 335, leading Benny in after her. “Benny, this is exactly what we were trying to avoid.” she said. “By now June would be in a caring and controlled environment.”

Benny was watching his sister’s uncaring expression, waiting for any signs of life. “Why don’t we ask Joon what she wants?” he said.

After a few seconds, Joon began to speak very slowly and calmly. “I don’t know exactly what I want,” she said. “I do know that I am tired of everyone telling me what to do.”

“Joon, we want what’s best for you,” interjected Dr. Darbish.

“I know that,” June answered hesitantly, unsure of what to answer. If she chose the group home, she could finally let Benny be free of her. He was obviously lying about Sam because he felt guilty and wanted her to forgive him. He was so angry when they had told him of their being together, and Sam admired Benny so much. No one would ever believe that Sam still loved her after she went crazy on the bus. Maybe it would be better… Her thoughts stopped completely as she looked up at the window, at the exact second that Sam flew by in his top hat and suspenders. She stared at the window in disbelief as he went by a second time, gripping her attention with his dark brown eyes, a tiny smile on his face as if he was working a magic trick just for her. He did love her! And he really had come with Benjamin to save her. Her eyes filled with joyous tears as she tried to remember what she had been saying.

“I…” Joon stalled as Sam passed by the window yet again suspended on a rope and waving his hat gallantly like a Victorian greeting. “I think I want to try living in my own apartment!” She finished ecstatically.

Benny was floored. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw movement and nearly fell out of his chair when he realized it was actually Sam, hanging on a painter’s swing outside the third floor window, several dozen feet above the ground. How he was able to get up there, Benny could only guess. But he was starting to believe that the boy really was nothing short of miraculous.

Dr. Darbish looked glanced out the window, perturbed, just barely missing Sam as he completed his arc.

“You know, I don’t know.” she began. Sighing in acceptance, she looked at Joon.

“Well, I’m willing to let you try. I’ll prepare the papers for her release.”

As she left the room—outside of which Sam was still swinging theatrically— Benny and Joon looked at each other in amazement, forgetting their dispute completely.

“Thank you Dr. Darbish.” Benny directed at the retreating woman in the white lab coat.

This novelization was based on the 1993 film by Jeremiah Chechik starring Johnny Depp, Mary Stuart Masterson and Aidan Quinn.

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