Hope you’ve had a good week. Being the first week back at university, it’s been awfully busy, but I’m back, and today I want to talk about film adaptations. So here it goes.
I love movies, I really do. And whenever I hear that one of the books I love is being turned into a film, I really want to get excited. There’s so much potential to create beautiful portrayals of the worlds that can only be seen in our minds. And yet, there have been so many poor adaptations that the excitement I feel at hearing about a potential film version of my beloved stories, is mixed with doubt, and the preconception that it probably will never live up to the original.
To extrapolate, I could never expect a perfect adaptation that includes every great scene, every perfectly crafted piece of dialogue, or every instance of character development. I’m aware that it isn’t possible to include everything, both because of time constraints, and because some things just don’t transition well visually. I accept that.
And yet, so many films have not only changed characters or plot lines, they’ve destroyed the essence of the story. When you look at a film, and you can barely recognize it compared to the book, you know that there was a complete disregard for the original material.
I’m not that person who quibbles endlessly over trivial changes, like a character’s hair color or the fact that their ages might be slightly off. I would rather have a great film, with a character that looks different than I imagined, than a perfect looking character in a terrible film. When a character is devoid of any of the pain, motivation and experience that was felt in the book however, that’s when I have a problem. I can suffer through plot changes that speed up results, or cheesy one-liners to add humour (though, admittedly, this usually makes me wince). When a character’s essence is compromised though, I feel that the film-makers (be it the fault of script writers, directors, actors, or editors) have no real respect for what they are using to create their work.
I won’t name any of the adaptations that have made me want to pull my hair out, because I don’t really believe that’ll accomplish anything. I do however think that looking at some of the ones I’ve enjoyed can only be helpful.
Even though there have been minor, and a few major changes throughout the seasons, I really feel that HBO has done an amazing job with Game of Thrones. The book series, A Song of Ice and Fire, written by the amazingly gifted George RR Martin, is so intricately crafted that no film or TV series could ever do it full justice. Thousands of pages, and thousands of characters, all with their own personalities and ambitions could never be contained by a film, and though making it into a TV series does allow for more, even that could never contain the extensive world and character building Martin has encompassed in his books. Personally, I feel that David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, the creators of the show, have done a great job with the material, and have not lost any of the essence that makes Westeros and its people so intriguing.
On to young adult adaptations, which so often are the victims of that added comic-relief I talked about. I have not read or watched Twilight, so I can’t comment on that one, even though it has a huge following and would have lots to say, I’m sure. The Harry Potter films often drove me crazy as a super fan, but I enjoyed those enough, and thought that certain aspects, like the young actors, really got better as the movies progressed. And who can hate something that has such an amazing congregation of British acting talent (i.e., Gary Oldman is a wonderful man). More recently, one of the most popular ones has been The Hunger Games, and I can see why. The book series, though Suzanne Collins did a great job on it, is not meant to be severely complex like Martin’s work above. It’s written for a younger audience, and doesn’t have quite the scope of his series. I really enjoyed the books (specifically books one and two), and thought they were entertaining, and that the characters were far more realistic than we see in so many YA books. They are deeply flawed, but loveable anyway, and certainly the third book demonstrates, much like Martin’s series, that endings aren’t always like those of fairy tales. As for the film adaptation, I really liked it. I thought it perfectly encompassed the essence of the book, and I really look forward to Catching Fire, out this fall.
I’m late on going to see the adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones. Not sure what to expect. Her writing has really gotten better with every book she’s written, and I think the films will do so to, if given a chance. I’ve heard the box-office sales weren’t quite as high as expected, but am curious never the less, to see what the film makers have made of the book. There’s also the 2014 adaptations of Veronica Roth’s Divergent and John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars coming up, both starring Shaileen Woodley to anticipate. Finger’s crossed.
Now apart from this, there have also been a few graphic novel adaptations. Among them, The Walking Dead. I’ve been reading the graphic novels, though I did start with the show on AMC. The adaptation is different, and many changes would probably have driven me crazy if I had been a reader first. This however, is one case where I felt that even though it was different, I really enjoyed the show for what it was. I’m not saying it’s better, but it’s still very, very good. I really liked Shane’s character, and was glad to have him on my screen for so long. And like many women, I absolutely adore Daryl Dixon’s character, and how he’s developed over the seasons. And I quite miss not having him in the graphic novels.
So, as writers, would you allow your work to be adapted into film?
Would you want to be involved in the process?
What are the best adaptations you’ve seen?
Let me know!
Until next time,