From Page to Screen

Read this, watch that

It’s one of the most highly discussed topics in recent history. It can insight feuds even among the closest friends. It is the one question that really doesn’t have a right answer. Which is better? The book? Or the movie?

You’ve heard this discussion too, probably many times. The long hours usually just play out by each side explaining their thinking. Voices get raised and people begin to walk away. In the end, neither side gives up and the topic is unresolved. Does this sound familiar?

The truth is, you really can’t compare the two. They’re two different mediums. Both the book and movie have to be judged separately, because they’re always different. This is what my college minor in film self tells me. In fact, I took a whole class dedicated to the differences between novel and film. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s hard to see it that way.

When any beloved book is turned into a movie, there is always that moment of fright. Will it stay true to the book? What scenes are they going to change? Will it be terrible? It’s a guessing game. If a small amount of the storyline from the book is intact, the film industry see’s it as a successful re-imagining of the source material. Which to I say . . . Well I can’t say, because there might be young ears in the room.

Time and time again, I’ve been disappointed in book to movie adaptations. The Da Vinci Code and Twilight seem to be the obvious examples. Both have a blatant disregard for the original novel. Scenes have been added, scenes have been radically changed, and the storylines aren’t parallel to the book. I don’t expect it to be the same (Actually, I do). It can’t be the same. But is it so hard to ask that it stay true to the original source material? I don’t think so.

I think with any book you love, you will always feel like the book is better. However, there are exceptions. Forrest Gump is an exception. The book is strangely different from the film. I don’t even remember any scene from the book being in the film. In the book, Forrest Gump becomes an astronaut and lives with cannibals. I don’t know about you, but I never saw that. In my opinion, the film is a million times better than the novel. I can’t even recognize the novel. Forrest Gump, the film, is perfection. And the book is not.

Those are the two usual groups that novel to film adaptations fall in – love it or hate it. But, is there an in-between? Yes. I believe there is. The two that come to mind are The Notebook and Harry Potter. There are some slight differences between the novels and film versions, but they still stay true to the original. The films complement their novel counterparts. There can be a successful adaptation from page to screen. It’s very rare, but it does happen.

Love it or hate it, these money hungry film industries are going to continue to make novel to film adaptations. Some good, some bad, some okay. It’s all up in the air. No matter how much I would like to see every adaptation true to the original, it won’t happen. Most studios only care whether a film will make money, not if it the film will accurately capture the novel. In some cases, it works out. Mostly, it doesn’t. From the page to the screen, there are always going to be successes and failures. If only there was a way to make sure that failure never happens to the books we love.

What book to movie adaptations do you love? Which do you hate? Which ones are in-between? Have you seen an adapted movie that made you want to read the novel? Which future novel to film adaptations are you looking forward to? Tell me in the comments!

For more Kim the FanGirl follow the blog on Twitter @kimthefangirl and on Facebook

2 Comments Add yours

  1. miseryofmidnight says:

    Hey K,

    If I’ve read a really good book-a book that wows me and makes we want to shove it in the face of every person I know then I’m gonna be really upset if a film version comes out and does not retain the book’s integrity. Frankly, I don’t mind if some creative liberties are taken to sensationalize and dramatize elements of the film after all the experience of reading a book and watching a movie are two different things. My problem lies in movie adaptations that are just plain awful. Awful acting, awful directing, awful everything. Case in point – Runaway Jury. I like John Cusack as much as the next guy (or girl) but that movie got me really upset! The entire movie didn’t incite as much excitement and suspense as the first paragraph of the book. Everything about it just seemed fake.

    That being said a good movie is a good movie and a film can veer away from the original published storyline and still be good and sooner or later the die hard followers of the book will appreciate it (maybe).

    1. I agree completely. I don’t know how many times I’ve been disappointed by a novel to film adaptation. Most of the time, it’s a book I really love, and it just ends badly for everyone.

      I’ll never forget this, on some interview I saw a producer say, “We’re not here to make (Whatever novel it was) the book, the movie.” Um, that’s exactly what you’re doing. If you’re not making “the book, the movie” what are you doing then? The novel and film are two different things, some things are going to be different. You can’t get around that. However, when key scenes and characters are changed, you don’t have an accurate representation of the book. You’re just copying parts of the story and mixing it with your own. It can steer away from the novel, but to a certain point. The adaptations I’ve seen all make major – I mean, major – changes to the story. That just takes me away from everything that I’ve read in the novel. You can edit things and such, but leave out or change specific plot points, you just lost me. Sorry, that just get’s me irritated.

      I understand when bad cast and crew happen to good adaptations. In most cases, the director and screenwriter haven’t even read the book when they get the job. They don’t know the world of the characters. The fans live and breathe the novel. They know everything there is to know. If you’re not a fan, you’re not going to get it. You’re not going to get all the small inside jokes and important details that need to be in the film.

      I’ve seen Runaway Jury dozens of times – I love that movie, but I’ve never read the book. But, you’ve given me a good case too. I’m a die-hard follower of several books, and I think it depends if you can eventually appreciate the terrible film adaptation or not. For instance, the 4th book in Harry Potter is my favorite. I was so excited to see the film version, but when I first saw it, I hated it. They left out so many things. Then a year or two went by and I watched it again. The more I watched it, the more I loved it. However, there are some adaptations that I can’t stand. I will never watch The Da Vinci Code again. Besides Tom Hanks and his horrible hair, the movie did no justice to the book. The long and short of it, is novel to film adaptations are tricky. Some get it right, most get it terribly wrong. At least we have the novels to keep us company and make us feel better.

      Sorry, really long rant. I’m glad I stopped myself there. This could have gone on forever. 😉

      – Kim

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