Sunday, January 18, 2009

Why read the book when they are just going to make it into a movie?

I don’t know if it’s that I’ve been reading even more than usual lately, or if I just never noticed before, but I feel like there are a ton of movies based on books that have just come out or are coming out.

Not that this is a bad thing. Sometimes, when I read a book, I think about all the ways it could be made into a movie and how cool it would be. I usually have to refrain from comparing a movie to the book, though, because books can go places emotionally that movies just can’t. There are only so many voice-overs or monologues a movie can have before it becomes cheesy and unbelievable, whereas in a book, a reader connects with a character because of the thoughts and emotions that are not necessarily vocalized. Unless of course it's Morgan Freeman doing the voice-over. March of the Penguins was enjoyable just because he narrated it.

I am not one of those people who will go into a movie and be unsatisfied if the movie doesn’t completely stick to the book, either. I hate people like that, actually. There is really no way to stay completely faithful to a book, especially because it would take many hours. People do not want to sit through a 6 hour long movie because the movie makers decided to include every single scene. By cutting out unnecessary scenes, the audience can still enjoy the story without thinking about how many days they have spent in the theater.

Also, think of how much money it would take to film every single scene. The movie industry already spends massive amounts of money on these films, and to add that by filming a scene that can easily be removed or cut out would just be plain stupid.

Sometimes, however, the films just get it wrong. They will stick to the basic story but will lose the point of the novel. Or, they will change some of the main characters so much that they are longer the same character as in the book. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen movie and been disappointed by these changes.

The best example of this that I can think of is The Devil Wears Prada. (The main reason this is my example is because it was on last night.) I read the book before the rights had even been bought, so I didn’t read it because of the movie like I do with a lot of books. I really liked the characters that Lauren Weisberger created, especially Andrea and Miranda. Andrea was seen as an idealistic girl with real ambitions and, most importantly, real emotions. She is frequently angry and smokes and stresses and complains. Not to mention, she doesn’t just walk away from her job like she does at the end of the movie. She tells Miranda off and then gets fired. Who hasn’t once wanted to tell off her boss? By doing this, it allows the reader to see that Andrea is gaining back some of herself. The whole point is that Andrea changed so much because of this job and not in a good way that she has to find herself again and the movie really doesn’t convey that.

Miranda Priestly became human in the movie. That’s the only way I can really describe it, and I hated it. She was supposed to be this superwoman who was manipulative and snobby and bitchy and unemotional that you feel for Andrea. She does not reveal things about her personal life and certainly does not make you like her, but are totally fascinate by her. But in the movie, while Meryl Streep did an amazing job, there is too much emotion in her. She smiles with approval and pride at the end of movie after seeing Andrea. No. There is none of this in the novel. They took the strongest character in the novel and took away a lot of what she is about. Between this and the changes in Andrea’s character, I really felt the movie lost a lot of what the novel was about.

There are lot of these adaptions coming out or that are out already that I am totally looking forward to, despite my skepticism of them. He’s Just Not that Into You is going to be hilarious and since the title literally is the story, I don’t think I’ll have an issue with the point being lost. Confessions of a Shopaholic and The Reader are ones that I haven’t read yet, but am looking forward to reading and seeing. Where the Wild Things Are should be interesting, and I’m interested to see what Peter Jackson does with The Lovely Bones. And, of course, Harry Potter is at the top of my list. Now that they are all legal, I can enjoy it thoroughly…

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