Two fictional works and a real person
December 18, 2021 3:21 PM   Subscribe

Trying to think of a fictional work inspired by a fictional work inspired by a real person.

I'm trying to come up with a sequence of two fictional works (A, B) and a real person (P) such that:

1. A is fairly contemporary and well-known (especially to younger audiences).
2. A has primary characters and a plot inspired by B.
3. B has primary characters and a plot inspired by P.

A couple of near-miss examples:
Scotland, PA is a movie based on Macbeth with a female lead in the mold of Lady Macbeth, and Lady Macbeth is loosely based on an actual 11th century Scottish queen named Gruoch. Thus the recent character connects to the earlier character, who connects to the earlier person. (But this doesn't work because Scotland, PA is little-known.)

Cher Horowitz in Clueless is loosely based on Emma Woodbridge in Jane Austen's Emma. But as far as I know, Austen did not base her character on a particular person.

Any ideas?
posted by el_lupino to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There are lots of derivatives to Alice in Wonderland, and Alice Liddell was a real child.

Anything based on the New Testiment of the Bible - Jesus was real but the Bible is fictionalized.

The musical Rent is based on the opera La Bohème which is probably based on real people (who may not have been famous)

A number of different pieces of art are based on paintings - for instance, the Sondheim musical Sunday in the Park With George is based on the Seurat painting by the same name, which likely had real models (who again probably weren’t famous)
posted by nouvelle-personne at 3:37 PM on December 18, 2021 [2 favorites]

Oh! The TV series “Game of Thrones” is based on the novel series “A Song of Ice and Fire” which was inspired by another novel, The Accursed Kings by Maurice Druon, a novel based on the real-life French monarchy in the 14th century.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 3:45 PM on December 18, 2021 [8 favorites]

Evelyn Waugh & friends-->Brideshead Revisited-->The Secret History (not well-known among the young in general, but important for Dark Academia TikTok)

Elizabeth Canning-->The Franchise Affair-->The Little Stranger (wouldn't say it's well-known by youth, but at least it did get a film a couple of years ago)
posted by betweenthebars at 3:55 PM on December 18, 2021

Sherlock Holmes was based on Joseph Bell, so you can take your pick of adaptions there. Same with John Elwes and Ebenezer Scrooge (A Muppet Christmas Carol would be my choice). Christopher Robin from Winnie the Pooh was based on a real child, and you have either book --> movie, or if that's too "closely adapted" you have animated movies --> Christopher Robin live-action movie.

Two that are questionable on the "well-known" front (not sure where the line would be):

John Gray --> The Picture of Dorian Gray --> League of Extraordinary Gentleman
William Henley --> Long John Silver in Treasure Island --> Long John Silver in Treasure Planet
posted by brook horse at 4:31 PM on December 18, 2021 [2 favorites]

Not sure if this is what you mean, but Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl is about a college student writing an extremely successful fanfic called "Carry On, Simon". That fanfic uses the characters, plot, and world building of a children's/YA series that is taking her world by storm about a young orphan boy who, unbeknownst to him, has magical powers and has been prophecied to save the wizarding world of Britain, and is sent to a very British boarding school for wizards. There are references to that series' author, who is clearly inspired by JK Rowling, and about what her feelings on fanfiction might be.

Some years later Rowell decided to actually write that "fanfic" as an actual book (and eventual trilogy). So it has characters inspired both by characters invented in-story in Fangirl and by the Harry Potter characters and plot, while Fangirl is inspired both by the fictional characters of Harry Potter and by the real JK Rowling (and the real HP books and the real fanfic scene around them).
posted by trig at 4:38 PM on December 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

The Fifty Shades series started as fan fiction of
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, which was inspired by
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, who was deeply influenced by
Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott, which was loosely based on the real life
Robert Roy MacGregor.
posted by phunniemee at 4:42 PM on December 18, 2021 [2 favorites]

The story of Mildred Pierce by James M Cain was influenced by his friend, the mother of actor Constance Cummings. While the miniseries with Kate Winslet and Evan Rachel Wood is a faithful almost word for word recreation, the movie Mildred Pierce starring Joan Crawford takes such a departure from the plot that by the end I'd call it "inspired by" more than an adaptation.
posted by phunniemee at 4:44 PM on December 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

The Revenant movie with Leonardo DiCaprio is based on the 2002 novel The Revenant by Michael Punke, which is based on the life of Hugh Glass
posted by lizard music at 4:45 PM on December 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

My Own Private Idaho is based on Shakespeare's Henry IV and V
posted by Chenko at 4:56 PM on December 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

Martin Scorcese's Taxi Driver's main character Travis Bickle was based on Arthur Bremer, the man who attempted to assassinate former Alabama Governor and presidential candidate George Wallace, leaving Wallace in a wheelchair for the rest of his life, and Taxi Driver is claimed to have inspired at least ten "unofficial remakes".
posted by jamjam at 7:03 PM on December 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Bran Stoker's Dracula was based on historical figure Vlad the Impaler, and there must be thousands of works based on Stoker's main character.
posted by jamjam at 7:10 PM on December 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

'Bram' Stoker — damn that spell correct.
posted by jamjam at 7:20 PM on December 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

William Perry Fogg > Phileas Fogg of Around the World in 80 Days > The Other Log of Phileas Fogg by Philip Jose Farmer. (Following Philip Jose Farmer to the Wold Newton family leads you to pretty much every pulp character you've ever heard of.)
posted by SPrintF at 7:44 PM on December 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

Armand d'Athos > Athos of The Three Musketeers > Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers. (Wait.. there's a Barbie and the Three Musketeers? Wow!) You can make the same connections with Porthos and Aramis, whom Dumas hid behind codenames. D'artagan was, of course, a real person, though highly fictionalized.
posted by SPrintF at 7:55 PM on December 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

The Flashman series by George MacDonald Fraser is a lengthy comic series based on the bully character from Thomas Hughes’ Tom Brown’s School Days, which was semi-autobiographical, and based on the Rugby school of Thomas Arnold, who was a real person and one of the creators of the modern ‘public school’ system and culture.

The book and sequels mine nineteenth century history and literature shamelessly, and as well as Thomas Arnold, have all kinds of these characters-derived-from-persons.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 8:54 PM on December 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

Further—the real then literate Thomas Arnold, stern but trustworthy, moral role model, and spiritual-institutional leader, in Tom Brown’s School Days is the direct model for all kinds of British boarding school literature, and has the most lately famous descendant in Professor Dumbledore.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 9:27 PM on December 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

(Any of) the film adaptations of Little Women, which are based on the book. At least one of the characters is based on Louisa’s younger sister May.
posted by Liesl at 5:49 AM on December 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

Hieronymus Karl Friedrich, Freiherr von Münchhausen, was a real person who was the basis of Eric Raspe’s “Baron Munchausen”, which was the basis for Terry Gilliam’s film “Baron Munchausen”
posted by librosegretti at 7:05 AM on December 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

Roxanne, based on Cyrano de Bergerac, based on the real person Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac.
posted by tomboko at 11:46 AM on December 19, 2021 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, all!
posted by el_lupino at 4:09 PM on December 19, 2021

Shakespeare is full of these:

Succession*--King Lear--King Leir, likely mythological/apocryphal 8th century English royal via Geoffrey of Monmouth

*Succession, of course, also loosely based on the contemporary real-life Murdoch family, so this may count double, in its way
posted by thivaia at 6:48 AM on December 20, 2021

The Hours is a film based on a book based on Virginia Woolf writing Mrs. Dalloway.
posted by aspersioncast at 6:38 PM on December 20, 2021

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