Wednesday, February 24, 2010

From Books to Movies

Why do so many movie makers want to mess up perfectly good books with perfectly not-so-good movies?

As I was writing this review, I thought about my favorite Lynn Austin novel. It is called Hidden Places. Oh, my, what a great book! This was one of those books that grabs you at the beginning and doesn't let go. It had several surprises and simply satisfied my book-reading heart. I was talking about it to everyone for days.

Then, a little while later, I saw the movie-based-on-the-book in our library. I instantly took it off the shelf and checked it out. I then took it home and told my family, "We are watching this tonight, and you are going to LOVE it!"

Well, about halfway through the movie, I began to wonder if the screenwriter or producer had even read the book. I actually looked at the cover of the DVD to see if it really was the movie for the book I had read. It was. However, the problem was... THEY LEFT OUT A MAJOR PORTION OF THE PLOT (Yes, I am yelling. Sorry.) I couldn't believe it! What made the book so good (or better than most) was a part that was not in the movie at all.

My family did not understand my disappointment. They enjoyed the movie. I could see how they did, because it was a nice romantic story, the characters were loveable, and the acting was pretty decent. But since they had not read the book, they could not see what I was so upset about. What was a nice movie could have been an EXCELLENT one! I can't imagine how Lynn Austin felt about it. Surely she was not the screenwriter (I hope). If she was, I know she must have cringed when she had to leave out that part.

Now I know that screenwriters often have to cut the book down for lack of time. You just can't put an entire book into an hour-and-a-half to two-hour movie. That's why a lot of them are not as good as the book. Even though I like the visuals you get with the movie, the details of the book make the story so much more rich. However, to leave out such a vital part of the plot was unforgiveable. You just don't do that (in my opinion).

I was also confused as to why they changed the ending to My Sister's Keeper (book by Jodi Picoult). The book's ending was much more interesting.

And (bear with me, I'm on a roll), I don't understand the fascination with movie makeovers, like Cheaper By The Dozen, Parent Trap, Pink Panther and Get Smart. I can think of only a few of these I liked such as Yours, Mine and Ours (Dennis Quaid, yum!), and 3:10 to Yuma (except I never saw the original).

I read something today where someone is going to make a new True Grit. Come on, who can do that better than John Wayne?

Or TV shows made into movies like Bewitched, Leave It To Beaver, The Simpsons, and The Addams Family. Are any of these any good? And comics-to-movies (Dennis the Menace comes to mind.) Of course, I'm not referring to Peanuts movies. Who doesn't like Snoopy and Charlie Brown?

Don't even get me started on the topic of movies-to-books. Most of those are pretty bad. It's usually just a word-for-word text of the screenplay without stage directions. Blah!

What do you think? Have you seen any movies made from books that you liked? Do you know of any TV shows-to-movies or movies-to-books that you enjoyed? Tell me so I can enjoy them too. I want to know. Really.


Jennifer @ Mrs. Q: Book Addict said...

Harry Potter is the only movies and books I enjoy. I tend to stay away from movies when I read the book first. I didn't enjoy the Twilight movie, and I didn't want to watch it. A friend bought me the movie and then I felt like I had to watch it. I've still not watched New Moon. I like the picture that is created in my mind from the book, I think the movie ruins it.

Alayne said...

I hear you loud and clear! I HATE when film-makers destroy the soul of the original book when they translate it into a movie. It breaks my heart. I get so nervous when I watch movies from books I love, as I'm always afraid they'll be a huge disappointment! The book I just finished reading, The Yellow House, could be an excellent movie, but I would certainly hope they would stay true to the novel. It was so amazing. The review is at The Crowded Leaf if you're interested!

wolf359 said...

When reading this review, several examples come to mind. You have to understand, that the right book under the right movie director can be an amazing picture. Peter Jackson is an avid fan of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. The main reason he made the movies was because he loved the books so much! If anyone else under that kind of direction had made the trilogy, it would not have been made with the right passion and love that Jackson did. There are things in the movies that only the book lovers would catch, inside joke and referances that bibliophiles love. Peter Jackson made some great movies.

On the other hand, Eragon comes to mind. I loved the book. Even though you can tell the author, Christopher Paolini was deeply influenced by The Lord of the Rings and other sci-fi/fantasy, such as Star Wars, when reading that book, I was transported into a reality that one can only dream of. Paolini brought that dream into a reality. But when Stefen Fangmeier, the director of the movie, got a hold of the project, the whole thing went downhill from there, and fast. Murtagh, a very significant carachter in the book, was shown on screen for not more than 30 mins. And the entire movie only ran for 2:30! A book as immensive as Eragon, nothing less than 5 hours would do it justice. There were characters that were completely left out of the movie, plot lines that were non-existant, and do NOT even get me started on the so-called climax!!

I could go on about that particular movie. After getting out of the theatre, me and my friends debated it for literally hours, and I watched it years later with another fan of the book, and she was livid.

So, in conclusion, a book can be made into a movie well, or you can fail in doing so. It mostly depends on the director, and how much they love the book. Some are in it for the money, as Stefen, and some put their own money into the project, as Jackson did. Hollywood needs to get a clue. There are fans of the books they make! You HAVE to keep them in mind!!

Live Free, Fight Hard, Die Well.

hopeinbrazil said...

Rarely does a movie satisfy me as much as its book version. One exception was that I read Persuasion by Austen and didn't really like Ann. Later I saw the Amanda Root/Ciaran Hinds version and LOVED her. Now the book is a favorite. That's the only time I can think of when the movie helped me to like a book.