Today’s topic is one readers know all to well. When your favorite book gets turned into a move the following questions cross your mind:
What actors will they pick and will they do the characters justice?
What will they sound like and how will they pronounce the names/places?
Should I ever bother seeing them mess it up?
Or am I obligated to see my favorite characters visualized on the screen?
All of these questions are valid. My first book movie experience was the Harry Potter series and up until the third movie, I was incredibly happy with the film version. Then when the director changed and a character died, the films lost their magical connection to the books. I personally feel an obligation to see a movie made from a book I’ve read and especially loved. At the moment, I’m holding out for the movie version of Orson Scott Card’s famous novel Ender’s Game. Although nothing will replace the images inside my head it will be very interesting to see what other people envision and compare the p.o.v. after seeing the film.
The idea of making a film out of a book came to me because I saw The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo tonight. Since I have not read the book before watching the movie my opinion of the characters is only based on the actors/actresses. However, I could see the holes in the plot and detail that can only be filled by the lengthy paragraphs of a novel.
The fundamental question is…can a film truly capture the meaning of a novel or even a short story without using all of the information or always inside the head of the characters?
For me, it’s a no. It can’t. As a writer, nothing is more involving than getting inside the head of the character and knowing everything they think and being able to have the narrator give objective information all of the time.
While movies have the visual effect of showing you the entire street or the entire world of the story…and the narrator can say what’s inside the character’s head…it is never enough to completely immerse you. There is always something the director or screenwriter must leave out and most of the time that information is the most important.
Let’s go back to the Orson Scott Card example. I am immediately displeased that the actor playing the main character is too old and the character does not become that age until half way through the book. I am also upset that they probably will not show pivotal scene in the character’s life (killing boys that bully him) because the film will be rated for younger kids. This seemingly innocent piece of censorship to shield children from violence is altering the entire meaning of the story.
So, regardless of my complaints already I will see the movie of one of my favorite books. I feel it is an obligation to see all forms of the book and characters I love so much.
But now I turn the discussion to you dedicated readers and movie buffs.
What is your opinion on book movies?
Do any of them do a good job of depicting the book? If so what ones and why?
And for the haters-which movies did the worst job of depicting the book and why?