It rarely ever turns out well. I could probably count on one hand the number of movies I have seen that have actually been better than the books they are based on. This means, quite obviously, that 97% of the time, the book is the better version of the story. Because the book IS the story. It was contemplated, written, re-written, and then finally approved as the best story it could be. And if a movie studio has deemed it worthy enough to make a movie out of, then obviously it’s a great story!
So, if the books are great, why do directors, producers, actors, etc. feel that they need to change the story? This drives me up the wall, especially if the writer is on set helping out. I can understand changing costumes or lighting and such so that it produces a better scene, but to blatantly change the plot line? What makes the movie industry qualified to re-write a best-selling story? If the author had wanted that to happen, they would have written it that way!
The most obvious example that comes to my own mind is the sixth Harry Potter movie. I remember being so extremely excited for this movie, because lots of really crazy stuff happened in that book, and I wanted to see it on screen. Now, I know that a lot of avid HP fans have lots of qualms with the movies (which is exactly why I am discussing this subject). I remember feeling actual anger as I left the theater 3 hours later. “Excuse me”, I wanted to yell at the screen, “when did (insert your favorite misconstrued plot point here) ever happen in the book?!”. A movie should not invoke those kinds of feelings.
The plot is all there, in black and white. There are no mysteries or questions. Yet why, WHY, does the story appear differently on the screen than on the pages? I am paying to see a live-action rendering of a book that I liked. If you are going to change it, you might as well call it something else. Obviously I’m talking about major plot differences here, because if the person’s hair color is different, well, that’s not going to make me want to throw my popcorn at the screen.
And please, if you are going to put ‘based on the novel by…’ in the credits, at least add the word ‘loosely’, so that your viewers aren’t completely shocked when you rearrange half the story and change the ending from a sad one to a happy one. I may be exaggerating here, but I just bet I am not alone in thinking this way.
This trend makes me skeptical to see movies of my favorite books. I usually wait until someone I know goes to see it and then rely on their opinion of it to make my final decision. I just don’t like to willingly view the butchering of a great story.
The bottom line is that if movies that are based on books want any more of my money, they will have to stick to the story that is given to them. They picked it for a reason, now show the audience why!
Rant over (for now).
We Support Indie Bookshops