Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Rant: Book to Movie Adaptations

I have 2 passions in life - reading books and watching movies/TV series. And these 2 passions of mine cross paths when an adaptation is made of the books on film. And being a human being I have an opinion about it.

Let me answer the fundamental question of what I think of Book adaptations - I am for them. I like quite a few of them actually. I'll explain why.

I know there are a lot of people that do not enjoy the book adaptations that are made. This is mostly because of the strongly held belief that a movie is never as good as the book. I agree with it too. But that has never stopped me from liking the movies that have been based off of books. I try to look at a movie as a different entity altogether. Of course I do not always succeed at this.

Let me take example of what  think are adaptations that suck and get them out of the way before I start stating why I actually like adaptations.

  • Let's start off with Eragon. This movie was based off of the series by Christopher Paolini. I loved this series when it had come out. I saved up money to buy the books in this series. I was so excited when I found out there was a movie coming out and then I watched the movie. I hated it. It was nothing like the book. I lost interest in the books too and have till date, not read the last book in the series. 

  • Then there's Twilight. A lot of people might say they hated the books but let's not kid ourselves. This series is one of the guilty pleasure reads for a lot of us. It is a series that has made a lot of people start reading or get back in to reading, like it did with me. But the movies did not even live up to the books. The major issue with this adaptation was the acting. 

So an adaptation might be ruined because of the inability to cover the story in 2 hours or because of wrong casting choices or even because the reworked screenplay has very little to do with the book. Sometimes the whole character gets changed or cut from the adaptations.

Now let me give examples of book adaptations that make me say that I like movie adaptations.

  • No list would be complete without Lord of the Rings. If ever someone needs to learn how to make an epic fantasy movie from a book, this is how its done. It stayed true to the characters and the world. That is not to say that a few liberties were not take with the screenplay, Arwen did not appear a lot in the book, but that was handled beautifully in the form of dreams/visions Aragorn has. There were a lot of things in the books that were left out in the movie but that was OK because the movie in and of itself was enough. This is a movie which can be watched without having read the books and that is a huge plus.

  • Another series that has to appear on this list to make it complete is the Harry Potter series. I have to admit that looking back the movies started getting better from the 3rd one onwards. The first two movies look a bit too kiddy for me now. Nut keep in mind that I am now (for all intents and purposes) a grown up now. But for those of you who like their book to movie adaptations to stick to the story in the books this is perfect. I cannot think of Ron, Hermione the Weasley twins or anyone else without associating them with the actors from the movies. This is a series that I grew up with. It holds a very special place in my heart and the movies did justice to that.

  • To Kill a Mockingbird is a movie that made me pick up the book. And this was a beautiful story. There was an element of mystery, drama, familial love and it touched upon racism too. 

  •  The Shining was a movie which chose to take a different tack than the one taken in the book. Though the basic premise was the same the story was not completely as the one Stephen King wrote. When it comes to this movie and book I look at them as something that is completely separate and different. I love both of them in their respective mediums.

  • The Green Mile and the Shawshank Redemption are other Stephen King books that have been made in to a movie (its actually a lot easier to list books of Stephen King that have not made it to the screen than the other way round)

  • 2001 : A Space Odyssey by Arthur C Clarke is one of my favorite Sci-Fi series. I reread this book every couple of years. For a science fiction movie that was made in the '70's it was very well made.

There has been a recent rise in a lot of YA books being made in to movies which is great as a lot of people would then learn of the fact that they are in fact originally books and read them. But it feels like it has become a trend to just make a movie out of the books on the best seller lists. And a lot of the movies are not made in 1 part but are made in 2 parts, especially the last movie in a series. An example being Breaking dawn or even Hobbit. I would love the movies to be made because the content is great and they actually plan on making a good movie, and not to cash in on the controversy surrounding a book or the fact that it is a best seller. 

But all in all, as in all things in life, there are good things and bad things when in comes to Book to Movie adaptations. But I tend to look at the good rather than the bad. 

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