Friday, April 1, 2011

Don’t judge a book by its movie

I did not come up with this title but heard my mom and sister mention it while going through some magazines. It really hit home as watched “The Golden Compass” a few nights back. It was coming on cable and Ankit was excited as he loved the book it was based on. We all sat with him and then through the movies heard him sigh, exclaim, moan and groan and then finally, exasperated, he threw himself back on the bean bag and wailed –“They left the best parts out and this is not the ending. What did they do to the book? Why? Why? Why?” I had heard the same words while accompanying him to the Harry Potter movies.

I prefer to read either the book or watch the movie. While watching “Lord of the Rings” I was amazed by the sheer cinematography – the scenery, the computer generated realism – while friends that had read the book like it was the Bible shook their head in despair. There are many pages dedicated to the differences between the book and the movie and Gary Appenzeller has done a great job in detailing the difference on his page. I love his take on why we get disappointed -

“It would be an interesting study if somehow we could quantify this disappointment of readers when they see the movie adaptation and find out whether changes to the story in a certain book (for the purposes of adaptation to the screen) matter less to its readers, while changes to the story in another book have a greater effect on its readers.  I believe some books matter more to their readers than others.”

I think the length of the book has to do with it too. The Golden Compass, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, all require some time investment. So, it is hard to take hours of mental picture painting and replace it by one painted by the movie adaption. An adaption constrained by budgets, technological and time constrains. For example,  I loved the take on Rapunzel in Tangled – they did an exceptional job at making it a worth watch for all ages and gender – and I did not hear one complain on the story's "adaption".

 At home, Ankit has handed me the sequel to “The Golden Compass”. I am sure this is to ensure he has someone the join in the lamenting if a sequel is ever produced but more so to ensure I know what a great book it is. He really does not want me to believe the movie was the book. He has painted too good a picture of the series in his head.

1 comment:

  1. I rarely ever watch a movie of a book that I have read, nearly always disappointed.