Thursday, July 16, 2009

Book to film: I drive my(self) mother crazy

Two years ago when I met author Jasper Fforde I asked him during the Q&A session his opinion on the fans' speculations as to who should play his characters should the books make it to the big screen. He didn't really have an opinion on actors except to say that if his books were turned into movies it would either be over his dead body or if he made them himself so it wouldn't matter how horrible they ended up. So, this begs the age-old question- Should books be made into movies?

Clearly, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince just having been released to theaters yesterday, someone believes the answer is yes. (Don't worry, I won't put any movie spoilers in here from yesterday, but just know I saw it and I composed this post before seeing the movie. In fact, I'm writing this a week before you're seeing it!) Check out Agent Kristin's discussion of the same sort of topic for more. Every time I see a movie based on a book I've read I drive myself and especially my mother crazy dissecting what was left out, altered, set design, etc.

In my often-annoying opinion there's a wide range of how well-done these films actually are. It largely depends on how much I adored the book or if I've just recently read/re-read the book in question. In one instance I've point-blank refused to see a film based on a book because of word-of-mouth, that all-powerful weapon of mass destruction that we bow down to in this industry.* I have since had it confirmed to me that this was the correct decision. I've also heard rumors that despite many fans panning the film, the filmmakers are going ahead with films of the rest of the series. In other cases, I've only been able to find minor nits to pick and harp on which sometimes drives my mother even crazier than harping on what's left out.

Should we just abandon hope that we'll ever be satisfied with a film based on a book and avoid all confrontation on the issue? (I had a roommate once who was adamant that Peter Jackson's film version of Tolkien's classic, The Lord of the Rings, was far superior to the books. Blasphemy!

*Not meant in any way to offend or cause controversy.


  1. I'm terrible about dissecting films I've previously enjoyed as books. They are never quite up to par for me. I'm still entertained though. Perhaps I do it so I have something to complain about. LoL.

  2. I always prefer the book to the movie. My hubby and I are huge Robert Ludlum fans so we looked forward to seeing ‘The Bourne Identity’ on the big screen. We actually enjoyed the movie even though it bore scant resemblance to the book. After some discussion we decided that we would view them as separate entities—comparing them just made us crazy.

  3. It's already rare enough that a movie is as good as the book it was based on (albeit differently). Better than is practically never! Especially dealing with Tolkien. Blasphemy, indeed. Although, cutting Bombadil was a bit of a blessing...

    Now that I think of it, there is one movie that I actually liked better than the book: Cold Mountain. The film stuck closely to the events of the book, and I think enhanced them. It left me feeling just as -- if not more -- depressed. But hey, I like fiction like that.

  4. I dissect, too. I can't say that I've ever seen a movie based on a book that is as good as the book. I still go see them all, though, or at least watch them on video. I find them entertaining, even if they don't quite live up to the book.

  5. The Notebook was much better as a movie than as a book... but of course, I saw the movie first. Perhaps humans have a predilection for liking the first version they are exposed to?

  6. It's possible I read too much into any of it. @ Suzette, I suppose that's entirely possible too. I had a roommate once who would debate to her last breath that the Lord of the Rings movies directed by Peter Jackson were far superior to the books. There was never any point in arguing with her because she was so set in her opinion.

    It gets to the point that my mom just shuts down and acts like she's either deaf or doesn't care one whit about what I have to say.


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