Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Book to Movie = Book to Fail?

You are sitting down to watch your favorite TV program and of course you turn in right as it goes to commercial. After a round of McDonald’s ads and insurance claims, a movie preview comes on for a new movie that you quickly recognize. It’s your favorite book! And its being turned into a movie! Huzzah!

You are extremely excited and rush to the movie theater the day it comes out...but somewhere between the opening scene and end credits your face screws up into a frown of disgust and you are left wondering: “what the hell did I just see?” What you thought was going to be your favorite book portrayed in all its glorious detail was some poor excuse for a film where the plot does not match anything you remember reading and the only resemblance the character bare to the book are their names.

More often than not, this happens with book to movie adaptions. Many book loyalist are left wondering why…or WHY!?! The answer is simple. 1. The author of the book often has little to no say in how the movie is produced. They hardly ever have any input in the script or direction. 2. Hollywood makes no promise that they will be true to the book and escape charges of thinly veiled plagiarism by the addition of: “Based on the book by (author name goes here)” usually appearing in the opening credits.

Does it fail, yes? Is there anything we can do about it? Not really.

However, some authors hold out until they are approached by, or can find a producer who is willing to compromise. One of my literary heroes, Anne Rice, for example, will not sign any movie deals unless her vision of her characters and plots are upheld. The lady who does not even allow fanfiction of her work, is particularly sensitive when it comes to her characters. After the film adaption of her book “Queen of the Damned” was a failure…and nothing like the original text…she is very wary of movie deals.

Also, it must be mentioned that some movie producers and directors are respectful to the text. Peter Jackson with his adaption of “The Lord of the Rings” comes to mind. Love it or hate it, one has to admit, that it is pretty close to the gospel of Tolkien with only a few alterations (mostly in “The Two Towers”) and omissions for time’s sake.

But what about those annoying little details that readers and fans love that movie producers skim over? One of the most popular criticisms: Harry Potter’s eyes, for example. In the books, I’m fairly certain it was mentioned on the first 3 pages that he has green eyes and is repeated throughout the series, probably no fewer than 20 times. In the movies: blue eyes. In the most recent film adaption of one of my personal favorite stories, “The Picture of Dorian Gray” Oscar Wilde tells us that Dorian is blond, and once again, this is repeated at least 20 times through the book. In the movie, he has dark brown/black hair. These things I really don’t understand. They can sink the bloody Titanic, successfully reenact epic battles and space shuttle launches and make dinosaurs walk the earth again, but they can’t get a character’s hair and eye color right? I’m at a loss with this one.

1 comment:

  1. Small details aren't typically considered important. I don't think the writers for Harry Potter ever thought that the color of his eyes might be a plot point. (If I'm remembering it correctly.)

    What I will never understand is why they might take a wonderful, original book (like The Dark is Rising) and turn it into the same old cliche tripe (like The Seeker). There's a reason people liked the book, and it wasn't because it was the same old same old.