Uncategorized | November 14, 2011
Why Great Books Make Bad Movies
Occasionally Hollywood producers get tired of re-using their own ideas (see: remakes) and decide to dip into the literature well for some inspiration. Throughout cinematic history there have been more film adaptations of popular novels than one could begin to count. Although it can be nice to see the characters from your favorite book brought to life on the big screen, 9 times out of 10 it’s a safe bet that you’re on the brink of disappointment from the time you hand your tickets to that teenager, at the entrance to the theater lobby, who looks like he’d much rather be sitting at his home computer writing a persuasive blog about why a zombie apocalypse could actually happen.
Put simply: more often than not, book to film adaptions are bad. If you don’t believe me, rent The Scarlet Letter starring Demi Moore. For further proof see almost any film based on a Stephen King book, although I will always have a special place in my heart for the awesomely bad Maximum Overdrive with Emilio Estevez, or any other movie featuring killer electronics for that matter.
Earlier this year I read two books that had already been turned into films, The Lovely Bones and The Time Traveler’s Wife. Both were good books with terribly disappointing film adaptions. The Time Traveler’s Wife film tried to pack way too much of the book’s plot into the less than two hour running time. I did appreciate the director’s obvious desire to include as much from the book as possible but, come on man, you have to make the film work on its own. The Lovely Bones had the potential to be a really powerful film had Peter Jackson not pushed the plot and characterization of the movie to the side to make way for his love affair with visual effects.
The film version of The Lovely Bones was packed with capable actors and had the benefit of source material that had already proven to be emotionally impactful and commercially successful but the heart breaking story about a family overcoming the murder of their daughter/sister through the years following her death seemed to take a back seat to the visual elements of the scenes in heaven. This was completely flipped from the book version where heaven was far from the focus of the book. This is a perfect example of the problem with book-to-film adaptions. Instead of maintaining the integrity of the book and thus the emotional connection to the characters, someone obviously thought the imagery of heaven would sell more tickets than a story about overcoming the worst thing that could happen to a family.
I wanted to avoid the mentioning of Twilight anywhere in this blog entry but, for some reason, I feel the need to point out that the inspiration for this topic had nothing to do with Twilight. That would be a blog about bad books turned into bad movies.
I was recently reading about a possible film adaption of one of my favorite books, Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk, and my brain went into overdrive about how many ways Hollywood could ruin my precious memories of this novel. There are so many ways it could go wrong and if you’ve ever read this novel you know how potentially difficult it could be to film, short of any major changes.
The problem is if you’re going to adapt a book to film everything has to be perfect from the script down to the casting if you’re going to make fans of the book happy. And, for the love of all that is holy, please keep Kristen Stewart far away from this movie if it does ever get made.
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