One Big Challenge The Circle Faced When Adapting Dave Eggers' Dense Novel

The Circle

Regardless of narrative or genre, every film adaptation of a novel faces a similar hurdle. After all, stories in book form have a freedom to delve into details that simply cannot be included within the confines of a two-hour long interpretation. It's this familiar challenge that writer/director James Ponsoldt faced in the making of the upcoming thriller The Circle -- based on the novel by Dave Eggers -- and it's part of the reason why readers will find that the movie will be putting a much stronger emphasis on character while moving focus away from the more technology-driven and science-fiction elements of the story.

In anticipation of today's trailer drop, I had the pleasure of hopping on the phone with James Ponsoldt to talk about his work on The Circle, and one subject that we dove into was the many-years-long process of adapting Dave Eggers' book. Recognizing that the novel was first published in 2013 and that technology has advanced a great deal since then, I asked how our own world wound up affecting the process of adapting the story for the movie. The filmmaker explained that it was a process of valuing relationships and core meaning within each scene over the many incredible ideas that the original author imagined. Said Ponsoldt,

I think a lot of the challenge of this was choosing was should not be included in the film, because Dave's book is so packed with ideas. ... And it could be a mini-series. It could be a great mini-series. This is a two-hour movie, so there were a lot of things that had to be omitted. We have to constantly ask ourselves 'What are the real issues at the core of this - that is at the core of any given scene, and how do we best stage it, shoot it, edit it?' So when you watch the movie again, in five years, in ten years, in twenty years, it doesn't feel terribly dated. I think it all comes down to putting the value system in the people and the relationships and let the technology fall into the background of it, hopefully invisibly. That's certainly the hope.

It should be noted that there is still an incredibly important technological presence in James Ponsoldt's adaptation of The Circle, as an important element of the plot is instigated by cameras that provide complete access to an individual's life. That being said, the obliquity of social media today definitely means that the film will be a pretty accurate reflection of our own world, rather than a sci-fi story set in the distant future.

In case you didn't catch it before, you can watch the brand new trailer for The Circle below -- and we definitely recommend that you do.

Sporting a phenomenal and star-studded cast featuring Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, John Boyega, Karen Gillan, Patton Oswalt, Glenne Headly, Ellar Coltrane, and Bill Paxton, The Circle will be arriving in theaters on April 28th. In the meantime, stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more about the film from my interview with James Ponsoldt!

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.