Movies from Books

As an English Major and a lover of books, it might not be surprising that I often prefer the book to the movie version of a story. A lot of times though, I don’t think it’s because the book is better. Sometimes it’s just because I knew the book first. People get upset when the movie changes characters and plotlines, but in reality, it usually isn’t feasible to recreate the book exactly the same. Some things just don’t translate to screen.

Does that mean that people should stop making movies out of awesome books? I don’t think so. One, it wouldn’t happen. Two, a lot of people simply don’t like reading, and it’d be sad for them to miss out on some awesome stories. And three, movies often are a great catalyst for people to read the book. Money and Publicity for authors? Yes, Please.

I like to read the book before I watch the movie. There are a few reasons for this, one, i believe that because the book came first, I should read it first, so I have the same knowledge the movie makers did. Also, if I watch the movie first, I’m to tempted to picture the actors as the characters, and I’d rather see what the author had in mind first.

That being said, I have a friend who likes to watch the movie first because it helps her visualize things better and get through slow parts of the book. Also, she usually likes the book better, so watching the movie first helps her appreciate both and avoid disappointment.

Now, I know that there are some movies that do a great job of recreating or at least honoring the book, and can turn out just as good or better. I sadly have never been able to bring myself to finish the Lord of the Rings books, though I loved the Hobbit, but I was absolutely obsessed with the movies. I find A&E’s Pride and Prejudice equivalent to the book (though they did have 5+ hours). I liked the ending to  the Sense and Sensibility movie better than the book’s, probably because it made it seem less like certain characters were “settling” simply so they would have a man.

I watched the second Hunger Games movie last night for the first time. I rewatched the first so that everything was fresh in my head. I’m always struck by Lenny Kravitz’s portrayal of Cinna. He’s nothing like I imagined in the books, but he is perfect. There is no doubt about it, he is Cinna.

So I think that when movie makers are re-envisioning a book, it’s not important that they stick to what is on the page. Some things will have to be changed, there is no way around it. The important thing, in my opinion is to look at the changes you have to make and ask “does this further the message of the movie?” Ask how the audience will react to the omissions or additions and analyze whether those reactions are founded. Re-read the book, and try to recreate the best emotions you experienced while reading it. So Hollywood, if you’re reading my blog, that’s my advice.

Posted on March 8, 2014, in books, Writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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