Thursday, June 28, 2012

Adapt This

I saw this article on Mental Floss which intrigued me, talking about famous authors who hated the famous movies made out of their books.  To be perfectly honest, I'm surprised any authors like movies made out of their books.  It is a complete different medium and it must be a challenge not to feel that your work has been bastardized when it can be massively changed through the course of collaboration that is a part of any film project. 

Just yesterday my dad was having a rant about the TV series Pillars of the Earth and how it couldn't compare to Ken Follet's kickass book.  My personal bugaboos on this topic are Girl, Interrupted (which royally pissed me off because not only did they screw up the book, that was an autobiography and they screwed up Susana Kaysen's life) and The Wedding Date, which took a perfectly charming British rom com called Asking for Trouble by Elizabeth Young and turned it into a vehicle for an American actress and completely changed several major plot points, massively altering the characters, story, message - all of it. 

No, it doesn't surprise me that those authors in that article hate the movies made out of their books.  But I admit to being impressed by the cojones it takes to say it publicly.  Or maybe it's clout.  As a bitty, itty fish in the publishing pool, I'd be giddy if someone wanted to make a movie out of my books, and I'd keep my mouth shut on the final product... but I think I would have to distance myself from the work and probably never see the movie.  An author puts a lot into a book.  It's gotta be painful not to be able to protect it... and then to have the whole world know you for something that is a bastardization. Or rather, they don't know you.  They know this bastardization of your work, but only the rare and sublimely famous (Stephen King, John Grisham...) are ever credited for being the originators of the ideas.  So you get no credit, no control, just the work that you put into creating something twisted until your message, your very reason for writing the book, is corrupted.  So that your voice is never heard, drowned out by the film.  How frustrating.

What do you think is the worst film adaptation ever?  Or, if you aren't feeling so ranty today, what's the best?  (I confess I like the Lord of the Rings movies better than the books.  A fact which horrifies many of my Tolkein-adoring friends.)


Anonymous said...

My pet peeve is when they rearrange the order of events in the movie. I can understand leaving parts out, but it really bothers me when they think scene 10 should actually be scene 7 and scene 8 should be scene 12.

I too enjoyed the Lord of the Rings movies better than the books, simply because the author seemed to have a tendency to write in every little mundane event that happened and took forever to get to the point in any scene. I can understand why die-hard fans would be disappointed in the movies though, because they do leave a massive amount out.

Vivi Andrews said...

Yep, there is a metric ton of detail in LOTR. Parts of it reminded me of reading the Old Testament (so-and-so begat so-and-so ad nauseum). Or was it the Hobbit that had the whole genealogy of the Shire? Of course you're right that the same stuff that made my eyes cross is part of what made the world feel so complete to others.