The chicken or the egg? My take on adaptations.

WARNING: Long post! ^^

This discussion is as old as time. Well, not time obviously but sometimes a little exaggeration is in order. It is a thing close to my heart, not just because I was a linguistics student. I did have a class though concerning literature and media, but since we had like the most abstract assignment ever for that one, I kinda blocked the whole experience. Stephanie and abstract does not mix well. I do remember that I my assignment concerned Tintin (Kuifje) and how the comics translated onto the screen, especially seeing how it was being filmed by an American and not a Belgian/European. I talked about cultural differences and how they adapted the script in such a way that America wouldn’t be offended (because in all honesty… America gets offended easily. I’m sorry. But changing an ending of a movie because they died in the book? For realises?) and as a result would be more popular.

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Never enough?

Looking back at this, it was one of the most interesting classes, because well. It is something I have struggled with myself. Books being made into movies? Never ever did I think the movies could be good enough. Exhibit A: I read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban probably a bazillion times. I remember going to the movie with a friend of mine and her mother. I even remember walking out afterwards and being so immensely disappointed in the movie. So many things had been left out, so many things changed! I had a rough time coming to terms with it. And now? Now I think it is one of the best ones. It is darker than the first two and yes it didn’t follow the book by the letter, but that’s the whole point.

Whenever a book, especially a series with that magnitude, becomes a movie, it is rather impossible to stuff in everything that happens. It needs to stay easily accessible for those who haven’t read the books as well. This is not only the case with Harry Potter, but same thing goes for The Lord of the Rings, or the Hobbit for that matter. Peter Jackson is turning one book into 3 movies and still people complain about what is not in the films. I understand fully how difficult it is not to make the comparison of a movie to its book, but I believe that to completely enjoy a movie you shouldn’t be constantly thinking ‘What happens next in the book?’.

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To re-read or not to re-read

The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Fault in our Stars, Maze Runner. Lately the movie-scene seems to get flooded by adaptations. But then again, it has always been this way, a lot of us just don’t seem to realise that. Oftentimes when a movie comes out of which the larger public isn’t aware of it being based on a book, it will be criticised in an entirely different way. This brings me to something I’ve now learned not to do: re-read a book just before you go see the movie. I used to do this all the time, I did it with the Hunger Games as well. Mi-stake. Though I really liked THG, I felt myself falling into the trap that I so desperately try to avoid: comparing every little thing. Ok, this is maybe not the best of examples because THG actually did follow the book really closely but it does make for a less pleasant of an experience.

I think I will always be preferring the books, which is why it doesn’t really happen that I watch a movie before reading the book. Maybe I should try that approach for once, but not yet. I like how with a book you feel included in the story. You can read a person’s innermost thoughts, their laughs, their fears, their doubts. You are a part of it all, you feel what the character feels. With movies you are much more of an observers, an bystander. It still calls upon people’s emotions but in a very different and less ‘deep’ way as a well-written book does. I love watching movies, don’t get me wrong, but I prefer reading the book first. That way I can create my own image, my own ideas.

Bye bye, baby.

This is one of the only things I really sometimes hate about a good book being turned into a movie. What has been seen can never be unseen. Whatever it is, however you imagined it would be, it will be forever changed after watching another person’s take on it on the big screen. In some cases, this doesn’t matter because they get it right. In other cases though they get it very very wrong. This does not really have anything to do about changing the story or leaving anything out. This for me is more about good casting and decent acting. Watching epic battles come to life before your eyes is cool but I will now every time I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows imagine the ending the way it happened in the movies. Not that it wasn’t done right, in my mind it was just… Very different. A lot more epic. Voldemort didn’t just evaporate into little ashes like that. It seemed a little anti-climactic after all of what had happened, whilst when I read it for the first time it felt entirely satisfying.

It is of course the risk you take. Sometimes I do wish I had the willpower not to watch a movie based on a good book I read. Or the other way around, to experience a movie I really like and afterwards have a go at the book. It just, it’s not me. I’m not claiming to have read every book of every adaptation I liked, obviously. But I am yet to watch an adaptation so good it really really makes me want to read the book. Except The Lord of the Rings. I started that after watching the movie in 2001 (Hihi, little me! I was only 12 at the time). I read the Fellowship of the Ring, and then the Two Towers and Return of the King before the others came out. So, it did happen, kind of. Mostly because I really really wanted to know what happened next, and didn’t have the willpower (there’s that word again ^^) to wait for the other movies.

So, do I prefer either? Yes, I’d go for books anytime. Do they need to stop make adaptations? Definitely not. I believe the key to enjoying both is realising that they are not the same thing. They might be part of the same family, but are second cousins twice removed. Good adaptations are out there, but don’t go crashing a movie because they forgot to put in who gave the broom for whatever reason. Give credit where credit due, though don’t go loving a movie to death because you loved reading the book. Stay objective. And enjoy.

I would love to hear your opinions on this! Feel free to share in the comments. I know this was a long one, but as I mentioned before, it is something I care about and I think about. And I’d like to make others think about it as well. ^^

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Have a good weekend, darlings!

(I did some googling and tumbling for the images, so I’m not entirely sure about the sources, sorry!)

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