Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Adaptation (2002)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Adaptation. (2002)

In Spike Jonz' brilliant but often bewildering, twisting and turning comedy/drama:

  • the opening monologue of the main character in voice-over during the film's credits displayed on a black screen (with white typewriter text)
  • the sped-up scene of the evolutionary creation of the cosmos, life and man from Hollywood (from Four Billion And Forty Years Earlier) to the present concluding with the close-up of a childbirth
  • the scene of writer-blocked, LA screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Nicolas Cage) seated at his typewriter (with a blank page) and speaking about rewarding himself with coffee and a muffin: ("I'm hungry. I should get coffee. Coffee would help me think. Maybe I should write something first, then reward myself with coffee. Coffee and a muffin...Maybe a banana nut. That's a good muffin")
  • the many scenes of alter-ego screenwriter Donald Kaufman (Cage in a dual role) with his freeloading twin brother Charlie, including when he asked about "a cool way to kill people" for his script, and received the reply: "The killer's a literature professor. He cuts off little chunks from his victim's bodies until they die. He calls himself 'The Deconstructionist'"
  • Charlie's struggles, self-doubt, introspective neuroticism, and fear about adapting a New Yorker article ("The Orchid Thief") by writer Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep) and his statement: "The only thing I'm actually qualified to write about is myself..." followed by his dictation into a hand-held tape recorder about himself ("Fat, bald Kaufman") while pursuing the elusive story - Donald then entered the room with his crassly-commercial script titled The 3 - a successful thriller about a psycho serial killer with multiple-personality disorder who employed a slightly-modified killing technique: "Now the killer cuts off body pieces and makes his victims eat them" - forcing the distraught Charlie to believe himself insane for self-indulgently writing himself into his own screenplay
  • Charlie's pursuit and spying upon New Yorker author Susan Orlean of the book The Orchard Thief while working on its movie adaptation, and discovering her committing adultery in an extra-marital affair with the real Florida orchid thief John Laroche (Chris Cooper)
  • the advice of on-stage lecturer Robert McKee (Brian Cox) about not using voice-overs in scripts - and his astounding reply to struggling screenwriter Charlie's question during the three-day seminar about how to "write a story where nothing much happens...more a reflection of the real world": ("...Are you out of your f--king mind? People are murdered every day. There's genocide, war, corruption. Every f--king day, somewhere in the world, somebody sacrifices his life to save somebody else...") - and his later prophetic advice at a bar about how to end a movie script: ("Wow them in the end, and you got a hit. You can have flaws, problems, but wow them in the end, and you've got a hit. Find an ending, but don't cheat, and don't you dare bring in a deus ex machina. Your characters must change and the change must come from them")
Susan Snorting
Susan's Phone Dial-Tone Duet
  • the scene of writer Susan snorting mind-altering, ghost-orchid flower extract and getting high (while brushing her teeth) - and combining her voice in a phone dial-tone duet with orchid thief John Laroche
  • the thriller-ending of Charlie/Donald being hotly pursued in the Florida Everglades swamp by the adulterous Susan and lover Laroche after she madly wanted to kill him for witnessing her drug habit and extra-marital affair.
  • Donald's profound words to Charlie while they hid behind a stump: "You are what you love, not what loves you"
  • the 'death' of Donald when thrown through Charlie's car windshield (this extinguished Charlie's alter-ego forever, and gave him new confidence); Laroche was attacked and killed by an alligator, after which Susan madly exclaimed: "I want my life back. I want it back before it all got f--ked up. I want to be a baby again. I want to be new. I WANT TO BE NEW"
Amelia Kavan
(Cara Seymour)
Final Scene
Sped-Up Time Lapse
  • the scene of Charlie openly admitting his feelings for pretty ex-dating partner Amelia Kavan (Cara Seymour) and kissing her (with her own confession: "I love you, too, you know") - while simultaneously discovering how to finally end his script ("I have to go right home. I know how to finish the script now. It ends with Kaufman driving home after his lunch with Amelia, thinking he knows how to finish the script..."), with the upbeat playing of the Turtles' song "Happy Together" - and a sped-up time lapse photograph of flowers and an LA street over a period of several days

Evolutionary Creation of Cosmos

Charlie Kaufman with Writer's Block


Susan Orlean's The Orchid Thief

McKee's Lecture About Voice-Overs

Pursuit in Florida Everlades

"You are what you love, not what loves you"

Donald "Killed"


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