Books to Film – What’s the Allure?

17/01/12 6:00 AM

So, I have a question for readers who go to see silver-screen adaptations of books they love: why?

I ask the question of you, but I need to direct the question at myself as well, since I’ll often go see films based on books I love. But why? I know the story. I know how it’s supposed to end. I know that liberties will be taken — liberties that may annoy me — since it’s impossible to stay 100 percent true from book-to-film.

So why do we go?

For me, it’s an opportunity to experience the story in a new way. It’s a chance to see the screenwriter’s, director’s, and actors’ interpretation of the same core story that I experienced on the page. It’s a chance to revisit a story I enjoyed (because I can’t recall going to see a movie based on a book I didn’t like).

Why do you go? Share in the comments.

And speaking of movies-based-on-books that I can’t wait to see, here’s the trailer for The Hunger Games.

Can’t. Wait.

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Posted by Robyn | in film | 8 Comments »

8 Comments on “Books to Film – What’s the Allure?”

  1. Steve T Says:

    Sometimes I go for the reason you mentioned. Other times I try to figure out how they manage to squeeze 9-15 hours of reading into 90 minutes of film.
    Finally, the pessimist in me goes to see how they’ll screw it up.

  2. Robyn Says:

    The pessimist in you is one of my favorite parts! 😉

  3. Martin Dugas Says:

    Good topic, Robyn! Personally, I always try to read the book before going to see its adaptation on the big screen. I’ve done the opposite on more than one occasion; I watched the movie first and read the book after… and I was always ticked off to see how the book was more “complete”. Reading a book triggers your imagination in ways that a movie just can’t — because when you watch the movie adaptation, you are “visualizing” the imagination of the person who wrote the script. It doesn’t leave a lot of room for your own imagination.

    I still go and watch movie adapatations simply because I am curious to see how exactly they managed to “shrink” an entire novel in only 90-120 minutes or so, without loosing the essence of the story while making the motion picture as entertaining as the novel.

    Btw, The Hunger Games looks wicked! (I haven’t read the book!)

  4. Laura Matthews Says:

    You know I could write for hours about this topic. So I’ll spare you and give you the movie version.

    I am almost always disappointed by movie adaptations of favorite books, but I always see them. Lord of the Rings, for example, wonked with my favorite characters and put words in the mouths of the wrong people. However, the sets were amazing. The visual incarnation of the world I’d been imagining all those years has enriched my subsequent re-readings of the books.

    Likewise with Harry Potter. I still picture the little dude on the covers of the books when I read, but Hogwarts and other environs have come more to life since the movies.

    The one film I think actually improved my book experience was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It was radically different than the book in storyline–they took liberties with events and dialog–but the result was a deeper, more intense version of what was only hinted at in the book. For example, Edmund’s rivalry with Peter was subtle in the book but emphasized in the movie. Now when I read the book I’m more aware of it. And the scene of the river melting in the movie, which is not anywhere in the book, added a thrill and included deeper characterization. For me, that one was a terrific success. (But don’t get me started on Prince Caspian.)

    One other point: A book, if it’s lucky, will have 50,000 readers. A film will reach into the millions. The films allow a story to penetrate deeper into the culture, capturing an audience it otherwise wouldn’t. Those of us who both read and watch are the minority; many more people will only experience the stories through film, so there’s not as much overlap as you might think, and frankly, I don’t think those viewers give a damn (to reference another famous adaptation!).

  5. Robyn Says:

    @Martin — yes, it’s always interesting to see how a 400+ page book (or longer) can be whittled down into 90 minutes or two hours. (And it’s interesting how some books — like the last Twilight and last Harry Potter — were divided into two movies, just so the adaptations could be more manageable).

    @Laura — I was hoping you were going to chime in since I know this is one of your areas of expertise and insight. Excellent point about the different reach the different mediums have.

  6. Ranae Says:

    I go to the movie versions too, but usually feel disgusted with what they have done to “MY” book! I have two exceptions, though……The Firm (who doesn’t love Tom Cruise?) and most recently, The Help. I haven’t read The Hunger Games, but it’s on my list. Maybe I’ll skip it and just enjoy the movie!

  7. Rene Says:

    I agree with you, Robyn! Great way to experience the story in a new way!

  8. Rene Says:

    Forgot to say, I’m also looking forward to The Hunger Games!