Monday’s Movie Musings is a new feature here at A Daydreamer’s Thoughts. The idea of this feature is to have all of my movie things occuring in one place. Whether it is a review, article, or something else, this feature will just be all about movies.
This week I have a discussion post for you all about Books to Movies.
This is a subject that actually really strikes close to the bone with me as I actually studied Screenplay Adaptation at university so I know all about the issues that the screenwriters face, as well as knowing how important it is to keep the heart of the book in the film. But the one thing that I learnt, and have always essentially known, is that books and films are two very different mediums and that the act of comparing the two is actually unfair on both the books and the films.
Yet we all do it, especially when it is a book that we have absolutely loved.
And I am certainly to blame for these things. When I watched My Sister’s Keeper, I was so irritated with the new ending that I threw my sweets across the room – they really butchered it in my opinion. It was only when I re-watched the film and put the book out of my mind that I realised why they did what they did and how much it worked brilliantly for the film. It made everything flow nicely in the film, it got the main themes and messages across and while it didn’t have the dramatic impact that the book had, it still made the film whole, exactly as it should have done.
The biggest problem I have with book-to-movie adaptations are the amount of people who ask, “but did you read the book first?” This is a problem for me because a lot of time I will see a film and not even realise it was a book adaptation until it starts because so many books have been adapted recently. But what really irks me about this question is that it shouldn’t matter. Film’s are an entity all on their own and I really think that they should be looked at in that way. I know that sometimes this really isn’t possible, due to the fans of the books being adapted (Harry Potter, Hunger Games, City of Bones) but I firmly believe that they should only be looked at as films, not as film adaptations.
Why do I think that?
Because everyone will want something different from the film due to their experience reading the book. Have you ever heard of the expression that the reader is the author? This was coined by Roland Barthes in his essay “Death of the Author”. By this he means that every reader will take a different message or experience from the story they read due to their own experiences. Someone who reads The Fault in Our Stars who knows someone with cancer or who has cancer will read it differently from someone who has never known anyone with cancer. Therefore those people will get a different experience from the book and will each expect something different from the film and will likely be disappointed when they do watch the film – just like I was when I watched My Sister’s Keeper for the first time.
Going along the lines that everyone experiences books differently, so will the screenwriter. They will then take all the best things about the book, maybe themes and messages they wish to convey and will then create a screenplay from that. It is why you could give three different people the same book and they will come up with three very different films. Take, for example, all of the different Romeo and Juliet adaptations. They’re all from the very same playscript, but they’re all incredibly different films because each screenwriter (and everyone else who helped collaborate on the film) had their own items that they wanted to incorporate into the film.
So, what I’m getting to here, is that the next time you watch a film adaptation, try to take a step away from the book and just appreciate the film for what it is, not what you wish it to be. Difficult, I know, but it could just make your experience ten times better.
What films have you watched recently that you couldn’t seperate from the book? Are they any film adaptations that you prefer from the book? What comments do you have to say about my thoughts on film adaptations, do you agree or disagree? Are they any film adaptations that you’re looking forward to at the moment?