Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Can adaptations live up to the book?

I'm sure I'm not alone with this, but where I read I get a clear picture when I read a book, so when a movie comes out I've already got some idea of what it should be like. I do try to see the adaptation with different eyes because I know that it's being shown on a different medium and some things written in words cannot be shown on the screen.

There have been some that I loved, but I admit I haven't read the books yet. I just saw Red Riding Hood and thought that was done very well, so I'll have to go out and get the book to see whether the movie still lives up to the book.

What can they do to adaptations to change them from the books (this can be for the good or for the bad... mostly the bad)?
  1. "Watered down" the action
    I have seen this happen. The content in the book is deemed too violent for the audience so they either eliminate it or change it so that the "children" will be able to watch it... even though they are the ones reading it.
  2. Change the endingWhen a book ends one way I expect the movie to also end that way, but there are some movies that just change the ending so that it's not as "sad".
  3. Cutting crucial subplotsI know movies have to tell the story of the book within 1.5-2 hours, but sometimes the subplots that they cut I feel are crucial to the story or, when cut, will change the motivations/sympathies of the main character.
  4.  Cutting charactersOkay, once again I know that they have to tell the story within a certain time frame, but sometimes the characters that they cut are the characters that add a bit more interest/humour to the story. Or I just love them and can't believe they've been cut.
So, do you like adaptations or just prefer to stick with the books. Have you seen any that lives up to the book? And, what don't you like to be seen in the adaptation?


Alleged Author said...

I haven't seen many adaptations that lived up to the book. Maybe The Color Purple was as close to the book as it came (the producers just left out the last 1/8 of the book). I'll watch any adaptation, but I think it's hard to condense a novel into a short time span and still address all the parts. Great post!

Kayeleen Hamblin said...

I'm not really a fan of most adaptations. The one that stands out for me is the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth. So faithful to the original.

I think this is something we are going to see more and more of. Hollywood is going to books as source material because there's all ready a story there that has sold and works well. That doesn't mean we have to like all of them, though.

Christy @ TheReaderBee said...

I definitely prefer the book over the movie. Everyone is always telling me that I am setting myself up for disappointment by reading the book first. I have all the same reasons as you, especially when they cut important stuff and change the ending. Kills me!! Great post!!!

Rachel said...

I generally prefer the book to the movie, although there are a few cases where I'd rather have the movie (Harriet the Spy. The Devil Wears Prada.) However, as an actor and playwright, as well as a lover of movies and plays in general, I respect that they are different mediums. Nothing will ever live up to a book in description and the perfection of the characters and locations in your own head. I will admit that I'm very nervous to see The Hunger Games on the big screen- while I'm happy JL is relatively unknown and rumoured to be a great actress, I think she looks too old for the part. Katniss may be mature and smart, but she's also slightly naive. However, if Suzanne Collins is thrilled by the choice, who am I to say no?

Anonymous said...

It's a terrible thing to say but when I heard Harry Potter was going to be made into a movie, I just knew it would be ruined if done in Hollywood. When I heard that it would be done by the British, I cheered. They always stay true to the books they do even if J.K. Rowling hadn't maintained some level of control it wouldn't have veered much from it. It seems like Hollywood producers think they can do much better than the book and usually don't.

Theresa Milstein said...

I think most adaptations fall flat. This book will be hard to put on the screen because of the violence. Always harder to see than read, I think.

Unknown said...

As far as adaptations go, there is no comparison to the real deal book. However, if I had to choose two movie adaptations that I didn't complain about too much, they would have to be "Silence of the Lambs" and "Misery". They were pretty close to the book.

Alison Can Read said...

Obviously most adaptations aren't as good. But there are a few...To Kill a Mockingbird. BBC Pride & Prejudice. Anne of Avonlea (drastically different than the books but I prefer the movie). About a Boy (also very different but I loved the movie). Lord of the Rings. Harry Potter.

Anonymous said...

about an accurate adaptation as there can be.

Unknown said...

I see movies for different reasons than I read books and my expectation level is usually very low for the movies, so even though all of those things exist in most adaptions, I find I'm pleasantly surprised. There are some that have changed way too much for me to even like them though. When the movie in no way even resembles the book anymore, perhaps it shouldn't have been compared to the book in the first place, ya know?

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