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Salmon Fishing in the Yemen Adaptation Stars Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt #book2movie

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen poster for the movie starring Ewan McGregor and Emily BluntSalmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday, book cover
According to Pete Hammond in Deadline,  CBS Films paid $5 million for distribution rights to Salmon Fishing In The Yemen after premiered to acclaim at last September's Toronto Film Festival. The original plan was to release the Oscar-friendly film in time for the awards season which made sense considering the screenwriter and director are both multiple Oscar nominees. Lasse Hallstrom for  The Cider House Rules, Chocolat, My Life As A Dog and screenwriter Simon Beaufoy, for The Full Monty, and 127 Hours as well as Slumdog Millionaire which won. They decided to avoid the crowded market and have held the film until now. The movie is in release in limited theatres starting tomorrow, Friday, March 9. Which means they can probably kiss all hopes of an Oscar win good-bye because it's highly unlikely for the voters to remember a film they will have seen almost a year ago by the time the voting goes around again. Hammond's article goes on to say ...

"The film, in which Ewan McGregor plays an uptight fisheries expert enlisted by  Emily Blunt to make a Middle Eastern Sheik’s (Egyptian star Amr Waked) dream come true of creating a lake for salmon fishing in the middle of the desert, is part political satire, part romance and not an easy adaptation for Beaufoy who I interviewed after a screening this week during his quick visit to L.A. But he is used to tackling unusual projects and turning them into surprising crowd pleasers. “It was quite a challenging adaptation. I had to do a lot of structural work,”  he says of the book which then 59 year old first-time novelist Paul Torday wrote in a style consisting of Emails, letters and memos rather than traditional prose. “I fell in love with the tone of the book. It has a very unusual mixture of satire, which normally has a hard edge, and romance. Usually  those two things are like fire and water. They kind of put each other out. But it reminded me of Local Hero (Bill Forstyth’s 1983 film starring Burt Lancaster which has become something of a cult classic gem), one of my favorite films ever. It had this strange, slightly whimsical eccentricity about it and the book reminded me of that. If I could re-create some of that oddness I would be successful.”No stranger to doing successful adaptations Beaufoy says  his mantra is  keeping the people, tone, spirit and heart of a book the same but putting everything else up for grabs. He describes the process of turning book-into-film sometimes as “bruising”. He met Torday before they started and got his blessing but did not engage with him after that point. “I think you are doing a disservice to a novel just by transposing it wholesale on to the screen because it doesn’t work. They are completely different beasts. It was the same for Slumdog Millionaire . It was a very free adaptation of the book, Q&A. . It’s kind of like brother and sister , different but the same,” he says.Beaufoy also was happy to be able to present a portrait of the Middle East we never see in films today, not the one where they are trying to blow each other up. “We get a very mono-dimensional view of the Middle East at the moment and I thought this was the opposite side. We see a side of tolerance and respect and just trying to be respectful of other countries and human beings, ” he says.




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