Analysis of the Book:

Susan Orlean’s snippet from the Orchid Thief presents her opinion of Laroche not really through the actions she describes but more by the tone, such as her contradictions and slight sarcasm at the beginning when describing his physical appearance. As the text progresses, it becomes a little unclear how she feels about him, since veers toward admiration but still retains a distance, still retaining her journalistic professionalism as a third person in his life. She describes Laroche’s changing passions, almost satirically yet with a hint of veneration. Larcoche, however, is never given a line so readers must trust Orlean’s opinion of Laroche. This novel then begs the question of how one should trust an author, and more importantly, how much.

Analysis of Movie:

Spike Jonez’s movie Adaptation, explores the notion of fiction and the use of literary mechanics to complete a movie that focuses on seemingly real lives in order to show how real life can be like a fictional story. The movie starts off with this tone, showing how an audience member can him/herself believe in the cast as the original, but know that the actors playing them are not the characters themselves, such as Nicholas Cage playing the awkward, quiet scriptwriter real life Charles Kauffman and his twin brother Donald. Though these moments are filmed as behind the scene moments, and are made to be viewed as such, the audience still knows that Nicholas Cage is not a scriptwriter, yet Jonez emphasizes Cage as a scriptwriter. He then adds in the element of the love story between Laroche and Orlean, Or Cooper and Streep, which is also not real off screen. This element of fiction muddles the audience’s perception and perhaps initial rejection of seeing Cage as a scriptwriter, and brings them in to the story of fiction. By adding in the end deux ex machina in which Laroche is eaten by an alligator furthers the idea that sometimes life really is a literary piece, and no matter how much ti may evolve, according to Darwinism, is still susceptible to what people like to term fictional.

Analysis of Adaptation:

Jonez stays true to the story line and tone of Orlean’s original, and provides us with a movie that would otherwise not be a good representation of Orchid Thief. Much like Tristram Shandy, Jonez gives the audience a film of a text that is unfilmable. The excerpt it is based on does not provide a story arch- no beginning, no problem to solve, just text description. Jonez, then, adds in a story of his own that mirrors and emphasizes the characters Laroche and Orleans, and plays off of the motifs and ideas presented in the text and perhaps the biographies of Orlean and Laroche, especially those inferred from her tone in describing Laroche.



in this interview, Susan reveals her concerns for how producers were going to make her story in to a movie, and her concerns for her image in the film. She questions the audience’s interpretation of what they thin kis real of her and what is  fictional in the book, but realizes that it stays true to the spirit of the book. She discusses that she wrote it in a difficult time of life when she was having trouble with her marriage, and is surprised that by reading the book, the producers and script writers were able to interpret that aspect of her, and was able to dissect and see herself, much like the interior tone of the book.


The article discusses how the novel is actually an adaptation of her original one  time article on the real person John Laroche and his legal battles with Florida, which was then adapted in to the movie.


This article explains Charles Kauffman’s journey to creating an adaptation that is not really an adaptation, but a story about Charles himself writing a script  about a woman writing a book, which is the book he is supposed to adapt.

Critical Analysis

In many ways, the line between fantasy and reality is blurred in Adaptation. Give an example or two of this, and make a case about whether this blurring makes the film more, or less, of a cohesive and compelling work of art.

One example of the blurred line between fantasy and reality is Charles’ imagination of what Susan is and should be, his fantasies about her, versus what she really is which is, as he describes in the end, a cheating old lady who is high on crack, abrasive in mannerism. The contrast provides Charles an awakening, which makes the film compelling because as an audience we tend to want to confirm or disprove Charles’ perception of Susan, especially when he gets the chance to almost meet her. The imagination and dreams that Charles has almost tries to convince us that that is what Susan is like, but at the end we see a completely different Susan. Even the audience becoems tricked.