Okay everyone, I have a confession: my geek is going to be showing for this post today. To tell you the truth, I am way too excited about the premier of Catching Fire (I’m going tonight at midnight!!) to blog about anything other than that. If I’m really being honest, I’m too excited to really think about much more than that, so my apologies to everyone who has been attempting to interact with me about something other than the plot of the Hunger Games. On that note, I’m going to attempt to make this post still relevant. So my topic this week is this: How do you feel about film adaptations of your favorite books?
There are so many examples to compare here, with an even larger variation in quality. The earliest film adaptation I can remember seeing (when I really understood that I was viewing an adaptation) was in my tenth grade English class. It was the 1998 Masterpiece Theater version of Wuthering Heights, starring Robert Cavanah and Orla Brady. Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t have anything against Masterpiece Theater. Granted, my feelings about Wuthering Heights oscillate between lukewarm and appreciative. Still, I remember feeling that the film I was watching was ridiculous and, frankly, made me a bit uncomfortable. (Side note: When I saw the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice I KNEW Darcy looked familiar. The same actor played Hareton in Wuthering Heights.)
After that I was particularly wary of screen adaptations. I’m also a member of the generation that quite literally grew up with the characters in the Harry Potter series, so those movies were always taken with a grain of salt, as well.
More recently I saw the film adaptation of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which wasn’t bad, but that book is just leagues above so many other books that exist for young adults in the world that it’s hard to create the same feeling in a film.
I didn’t mind the Hunger Games movie, although I know some people did. It must be difficult to capture a story on film when that story is told in first person. I don’t know the first thing about directing movies, so maybe some of you can speak to this more than I can, but there doesn’t seem to actually be a way to transfer stream of consciousness to film without using a voiceover or filming from that person’s perspective the whole time.
While the film version is certainly good and, I think, stands on its own without prior knowledge of the book, there’s just so much more to the book – to any book, for that matter. The simple fact that you have more space in a book, more time to flesh things out and have little conversations that seem meaningless but add up in the end, is just not true of movies. Anything over 120 minutes better be worth the time, so if it doesn’t fit into that time frame, forget about it.
There’s also more to the experience of reading a book: imagining the world and the characters through your own lens, hearing voices you chose, and everything that comes with the act of reading versus seeing.
Listen, I’d be lying if I said I don’t love going to film adaptations – if for no other reason than to have the opportunity to revisit a story I love very deeply and experience things all over again. But my question to all of you this week is this: Have you seen any truly wonderful (or terrible) film adaptations? What about them really worked for you? Or didn’t?
Now I have to go, I’m making a T-shirt for this movie premier. What, girl can’t get excited? Tick-tock!