A Book Lover’s Thoughts on Movie Adaptations

August 22, 2014

To Watch or Not to Watch Is No Longer the Question

If you are a book lover like me, you’ve probably found yourself disappointed a time or two (likely more) at movie adaptations. An inevitability in a day and age where new ideas are fewer and far between, and some books have been made into a movie more than once. But that doesn’t mean that studios will stop producing mediocre versions, or even that I will stop watching them. Because if you care about the book, you have to take that chance.

The hunger games katniss rue death flowers

Image from thehungergames.wikia.com

When a movie does a book justice, it elevates the original experience. Examples that come to mind are Hunger Games and Catching Fire.  I read them both twice before seeing them on the big screen. And even though I knew what was going to happen, I still felt sick to my stomach when the volunteers’ names were called, still cried when Katniss draped Rue’s body in flowers.  Seeing the costumes and hair styles come to life was fun, to boot. Other successful interpretations include Fried Green Tomatoes, The Help, Julie and Julia (more so the Julia Child parts based on My Life in France), and the most recent The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Silver Linings Playbook

Movie still from Huffington Post

The flip side is falling in love with a book, anticipating the movie, and then feeling all “Never mind. Let’s just be friends.” Speeding through the pages of Silver Linings Playbook, I couldn’t stop giggling, reading entire sections aloud to my husband while he drove us home from his mom’s.  But after I popped in the DVD, eagerly awaiting the Kenny G hallucinations and E-A-G-L-E-S cheers, I was left with the realization that they left the most hilarious moments out of the movie. Now, if I had seen the film first, it would have been okay.  But knowing what it could have been ruined it for me. And probably for my husband, when I kept pointing out the discrepancies.  Other movies that haven’t done it for me—Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, The Great Gatsby, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (American version), and Great Expectations.

I knew I wasn’t the only one whose parade had been rained upon, though, so I took to social media for feedback. Here were ways others were let down:

“I’m most disappointed by movies that try to take a short children’s book and make a long movie out of it. Or, they change so much about the story that it’s nowhere near the original” (How to Train Your Dragon & Frozen).—RLN

“Anything where the character had an overdone Southern accent. Time to Kill was one of the worst.”—KCH

“The Deep by Peter Benchley, but no movie about scuba diving has ever been realistic. The marine animals are oversized and unrealistic and the divers pull off stunts that should get them killed.” –GH

“The World According to Garp. I loved that book, but a lot was left out of the movie. I guess this is the one that popped into my mind because Robin Williams was in it.”–LLS

“Love in the Time of Cholera…Idon’t think any movie can possibly match Garcia-Marquez’s writing style.” –KK

So even though chances are good the movie won’t live up to the book, sometimes it does. Which is why I plan to finally watch Divergent this weekend, after missing it in the theater.  And why I was excited to hear about the upcoming plans for A Wrinkle in Time, which I’ve read at least a dozen times over the years.  And why, if they ever get around to making A Confederacy of Dunces, I will be there with bells on. Hopeful and somewhat suspicious, but I’ll be there all the same.


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