Saturday, March 24, 2012
Saturday Discussions: Book to Movie Adaptations- Are you an unreasonable viewer?
A lot of people were nervous about The Hunger Games, me included, but while I was at the movies, I was listening to some people talk. I heard a lot of "they better have included *insert really random small detail here*". Sometimes as readers, we latch on to these tiny details and forget about the bigger picture. I sort of laughed to myself and thought "man, you are going to be disappointed". I'm sure these were the same people that walked out of the theater grumbling.
So what I want to talk about today is the unreasonable viewer. I'll preface by saying that if you are one of these people, you have every right to feel the way you do. I'm not saying you shouldn't want everything to be perfect if you do. I'm not even saying you're wrong to feel this way. So don't read this next bit and think I'm attacking you. I'm just saying that you are setting yourself up to fail.
A book to movie adaptation is not meant to be the book on the big screen. It is meant to be a separate entity of it's own. It is someone else's creative statement. Most movies set out to make their own statements using material created by other people (in this case the author's). And this is a GOOD thing. It's good because the idea was already explored, and way more thoroughly, in book form. The movie is looking to nod to the book while making different statements, highlighting different ideas and sometimes saying completely different things. Now it's true that some movies take the book's ideas to a completely different level and that is usually what makes the movie successful. It's because they are offering something new.
Wanting a movie to be exactly like a book to the last letter isn't going to work. Not only is the book way longer than any movie could possibly be but it's more personal because you get to spend more time with the character. On top of that, a book leaves a lot to the imagination so you get to decide what everyone looks like and how they act and what a half smirk looks like as they move around in your head.
A director is doing the same things when they make a movie. They are bringing their verison of the book to life. But unlike the personal experience of reading a book, there are a lot more hands that touch the movie. A lot more thoughts and ideas are thrown at the table and thus, things are changed.
So if you are going into the theater looking for the same thing you read, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. If you want to really enjoy what you are seeing, my suggestion would be to look at the book and the movie as two separate things that happen to share similar ideas, plots and characters. Or look at it like you are in the head of a completely different person as they read and picture the book-- they are going to like some things more than you (translating into the things you see on the screen that make it from the book), they are going to wish some parts went different (translating into the changes the movie makes) and they aren't going to see everything the way you would. Otherwise, the beauty of art would be lost. And for me, that's what makes book to movie adaptations so special. Not that I'm seeing my version of the book but that I'm getting a glimpse into someone else's mind as they saw it.
I tend to like book to movie adaptations way more with that attitude so I've adopted it. I can still recognize when things are bad and I don't like everything. But I don't go into the movie with expectations that things are going to play out exactly like I read and exactly like a saw in my head. That way, I'm able to see the beauty that other people have missed.
So I want to know, do I sound crazy or do you do this? Or are you on the other end of the spectrum and you like you movies to be exactly like the books? I'd love to hear your thoughts.