With Hollywood running out of original ideas, picking up books and adapting them into movies seems to be done without hesitation. With authors like Jane Austen, Sophie Kinsella and J.K. Rowling having their works turned into blockbusters, it feels like most of the movies that make it to the big-screen are adaptations of novels. However, books are interpreted differently by each reader, and that specific vision created in a reader’s mind can never be compared with a typical Hollywood movie.
In 2015 alone, over 40 books were turned into movies. That’s a lot of books for studios to be spending their valuable time and money on, especially considering all of the elements of production necessary for a Hollywood adaptation.
Some highly anticipated releases coming out this year based on novels are “The Girl on the Train,” based on a book of the same name by Paula Hawkins and “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” also based on the book of the same name by Ransom Riggs.
The problem with adapting a book into a movie is that the film can never truly meet the imaginations of the audience. Every person who has read the book before seeing the film has their own specific vision of the book’s contents, whether it is regarding how the setting and characters look to how the dialogue is spoken. When that vision is dictated by a director and crew then projected on a screen, those visions are never entirely met.
I have faced this problem a few times, going off to see a movie that was adapted from a book, only to find myself sitting in the theater with my head buried in my hands from utter disappointment in the way the character’s are represented.
I just recently saw the film, “Me Before You.” I had seen the trailer and automatically knew I had to read the book. On a flight to London, I read the entire book from start to finish and bawled my eyes out while passengers around me stared like I had completely lost all trace of sanity. So when I saw the movie, I was mentally and emotionally prepared for it.
However, I felt like I was laughing more throughout the film than taking it seriously. It wasn’t because the acting was bad, but the dialogue and situations just felt more comical than on the page. In the book, there were a few funny bits, but overall it was a dramatic and heart-wrenching story. Honestly, I was disappointed I didn’t cry my eyes out at the movie theater. I didn’t feel connected to the characters or the storyline like I did when I read the book.
I feel Hollywood picks up books based on their popularity, often forgetting the reasons why the book was well known in the first place. Books connect to readers’ hearts and minds with more than just exciting storylines. Taking that deep connection and placing it on a literal screen will never compare to what a reader feels when initially reading a novel.
Making films based on beloved best-sellers brings in crowds and saves the studios from developing a movie based on an original idea. Even though the film will never surmount the greatness of the book, the curiosity of seeing the world come to life is still there.
Another problem that arises when turning a book into a movie is the loss of important scenes and details. Films often have to meet a particular runtime, and that means cutting certain parts of their source material that can’t be explored in one sitting. Every morcel of a book holds an important piece of the story unfolding and, unfortunately, a Hollywood film can’t always have it all.
The anticipation of wanting to know how the book will come to life is a good enough reason for most readers to buy a movie ticket. There are multiple questions that they may have, like how an actor will portray a character or how the world of the book would look visually on screen.
I saw a movie based on the book “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.” Now, I highly respect the masterpiece “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen, which has had many film and television adaptations. However, zombies weren’t part of the original. As a woman waiting for her own Mr. Darcy, I went to see this film because I was fascinated with how Hollywood would portray such a unique vision.
It most definitely was not a traditional Jane Austen film. When Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth were dancing and falling in love at the ball, they were surrounded by blood and guts.
All I could say was that it was “most invigorating” with all the intense action and kung fu fighting. In this sense, the book was better than the movie. The art of kung fu in a romantic period drama is already a little out there, but seeing it all on the movie screen took away a sort of seriousness that was in the original book. The novel was well done and should have remained a novel instead of being made into a feature film.
I will never get tired of reading a book and ending my journey there. Sometimes, books should be left alone instead of being sucked into the money-making machine that is Hollywood. As interesting as it is to wonder how a book would translate to the big screen, the way a book connects with us on an emotional level is impossible to ever compare to the original material.