Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Books and Movies; Movies and Books

I've been thinking lately about something my younger brother had to say recently on {his blog}:
I'm finding myself increasingly welcoming of loose adaptations. One of the complaints I find most annoying when people complain about movies is "It was changed too much from the book. They didn't include *this* or *that*, so it just wasn't any good." Loyalty to the book should NEVER be the main criteria for film critique. The challenge of film adaptation is to produce a work that can stand on its own, separate from the book it came from.
I hadn't really considered that before. I've often been one of those people that say "Oh, the movie was so dumb! They changed this or left out that" but hadn't ever considered that maybe the movie benefitted from such an omission or addition.

But today I watched this:

And found it to be very much improved from this:


When I read the book I thought the boy was much too naive, his mother was a brainless hussy, and the characters in general were not very believable or deep. But with the changes made in the movie version my experience was completely changed. Interesting. I definitely recommend the film.

What book/movie adaptations are among your favorites?


K said...

I wouldn't say it the way Mr. C did. Because to me, the most important consideration is the story. And too many adaptations drop elements of the story that were important. My feeling is that, if you read a book and find that it fires your visual imagination, but you take off on your own story, loosely based on the ideas, then you ought to license the idea (non-exclusively) and build a film with a title of your OWN, not the book's title. When you use the book title, you almost make a promise to the audience - I am putting this book on screen. And when you put your own story, like fan fiction, up instead, you have broken the contract.

There have been times, however, when the film maker has done some much needed editing on the story, providing some back story, maybe, combining characters, tightening the flow, dropping sub plots that are either luxury (which you can afford in a book) or weak/distracting/a waste of time.

So to answer your question:

Sense and Sensibility. Emma Thompson did Austin great justice, providing character development deftly and skillfully. A lovely job of preserving and enhancing the core story without taking anything from it.

And Field of Dreams. Shoeless Joe was the book, and it had all kinds of weird, quirky, stupid junk in it that cluttered the story and nearly choked it to death. The movie was a mean, lean version, see last sentence in paragraph above.

I hated the movie of the Princess Bride. They lost all the real meaning, irony, intelligence of the book and simply presented the outline plot, which was nothing, NOTHING to the book at all. It's like Roasting a lovely chicken and eating nothing but the ligaments. The book was a brilliant piece of work. Perhaps Goldman's only one.

Aly said...

Legends of the Fall. So different than the book, but much better.

jwise said...

I love Harry Potter. I agree with you, though, that the book & the movie should be viewed as separate entities. They had to leave things out of the movies, but I felt the books (all of them) AND the movies (all of them) were way good enough to stand on their own.

Ems said...

Roald Dahl books...most recently the lovely Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Tigersue said...

Pride and Prejudice, A&E version, and Persuasion, I don't remember the actors I would have to look them up.

I haven't minded most of the changes in the Harry Potter movies but I did feel they spent too much time on the teenage Angst in the last one and not enough on Voldemort and his background. Sometimes things are important to the entire scheme of the story and too take out too much hinders in the end and they have to change something else.

I'm not a purist but after reading the book again I realized how much of significance they did leave out.

I remember reading a bit from the men that wrote Beauty and the Beast and how they eventually changed things around in the movie because the story is about Belle and the Beast not her father. Doing that brought the movie in to context and made it so much better. All they did was adjust when they did certain scenes.

With Harry Potter I feel they are forgetting that Harry and Voldemort are polar opposites and so the reason to understand why Voldemort is who he is and the differences in the choices the two made.

Just my 2 cents. I still love the movies and will always reread a good book. :)

I also like the adaptation of the Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.
(I'm a sucker for good movie music too)


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