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Filmmakers have talked for years about the idea of adapting Neil Gaiman's Sandman, but when you look at the source material it becomes very clear why that's such a challenging task. On beyond the stylistic challenges that come with trying to create something akin to the comic's art, there is the fact that the larger story being told doesn't have a conventional structure. Because of this, some have wondered if the source material might be better suited for a television adaptation, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt disagrees. Why? Because he says the urge would be too great to just strait-up copy the source material.
The actor - who is aboard to star in, produce as well as possibly direct an upcoming Sandman movie - recently did an AMA session on Reddit to promote the second season of his show HitRECord On TV, and addressed the issue of movies vs. television for what is arguably Neil Gaiman's best work. Answering a fan's question, Gordon-Levitt wrote,
Ithink a big screen adaptation is a better idea and here's why. If you did the episodic version, I think it could very well end up as a not-as-good-version of what is already brilliant in the comics. But by reworking the material into a big movie, Gaiman's brilliant characters and ideas get to take shape in a way they never have before.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt makes a very interesting point here, and it's really something that every comic book movie fan should have appreciation for at this point. There are some stories that work so incredibly well on the page that there becomes no real reason to make a frame-by-frame adaptation of it. The route that the actor/producer/director is taking is most certainly the more challenging path, but it could result in something that is both faithful to the source material and works as its own thing.
Adding to his argument, Joseph Gordon-Levitt said that he also doesn't necessarily think that the visual constraints of the television medium would necessarily benefit something that's meant to be as spectacular as Sandman, adding
I think Sandman deserves to look absolutely mind-blowingly awesome, just on a visual level, and as cinematic as some tv shows are becoming these days, they still can't compete with big movies visually, just because they can't afford to.
While I understand what he's saying here, I must disagree. There are plenty of incredibly beautiful shows being made these days from a stylistic standpoint, from the sadly recently-cancelled Hannibal on NBC to Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix. The real issue is just that it takes a good-sized budget to make something as massive as a series beautiful, and certainly Gordon-Levitt doesn't want that restraint holding Sandman back.
Hearing Joseph Gordon-Levitt's arguments, do you agree or disagree that Sandman is best adapted for the big screen instead of the small?