Bookish Topic Tuesday
These days, it seems like ‘new’ movies are either remakes of old movies, or movies based on books. And that’s not necessarily always a bad thing, after all who doesn’t enjoy seeing their favourite book brought to life on the big screen? Well, it seems that more often than not, a lot of people don’t. They complain about the choice of actor/actress of their favourite character, their favourite scene was cut, it wasn’t how they imagined it, they changed an important detail, and so on. Now, I don’t want to be labelled a hypocrite, because I do this occasionally as well, I like to point out when things have been altered from the book with friends or family in the middle of the movie, or maybe afterwards. But, I’ve come to accept that movie adaptations, are just that. The movies are based on the books, they aren’t a complete replication of the book, made with painstaking detail and hours of author input. Even though I would be interested to see my favourite books done that way (Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Lord of the Rings/Hobbit), only the fans of the book would really be ‘into’ that. They would be too long, too dense, and too complicated. But more importantly, they then wouldn’t really be a film.
The directors, editors, writers, actors, designers, costume makers, all have a terribly challenging job to bring to life a well-loved book (the fact it is well loved makes it harder, because the fans are going to be out in force, and they won’t be afraid to criticise the movie). They have to make the hard decisions and cut and edit where they see fit, because they are making a movie to entertain, not just a replication of the book. While we may not always agree with the decisions of film-makers, they’ve done it for a reason. They have to cut out sections where they just can’t add in an explanation for the audience to let them understand what is going on, it’s just not possible, otherwise it will just confuse the audience, who can’t be assume to have read and memorised the entire book. They have to make decisions on how to transfer a book from the first-person into something that clearly has to be third person, because what a strange movie that would be, entirely through the eyes of the main character!
They have all these decisions to make, and they aren’t always going to get it right. Because they can’t. It simply isn’t possible for them to please the entire audience. It isn’t possible for them to create a movie where it fits every single person’s own image of everything. Everyone interprets the books differently, so why can’t movies do the same thing? I think some people start to get protective of their image of a character or location, they tend to try to cling on to theirs, as the ‘one and only’ or ‘the best’, and will even fight other people to prove that their imagining is better. Which is ludicrous, it doesn’t matter how you see x or y, I see it how I see it, and the movie will have a character that probably won’t fit either of our images. But for some reason whenever cast lists are released, there are always plenty of ‘fans’ out there saying, he’s not the way I pictured him, or she is too young, too old, too fat, too thin, has the wrong hair, wrong eyes, the list goes on. The sad thing is that they give the actor/actress no time to actually get into character, and prove themselves. They already have preconceived ideas about how a character should look and act, and if they don’t perform to the letter, they are vocally disappointed.
The worst is when people get angry because people are the ‘wrong ethnicity’. A prime example of that is the Hunger Games movie, people were outraged for Cinna and Rue being ‘black’, some went so far as to say that ‘they didn’t cry at Rue’s death because of her skin colour’! The awkward thing for them is, that they were actually described as ‘dark-skinned’ to begin with, they just pictured these characters as white, even though the author told them otherwise. Which is completely frustrating.
Instead of scrutinising the movie for differences from the book, everyone should just enjoy the movie, enjoy being transported into a world that they love. I really enjoy seeing how the movie portrays a character, how they think an event happens, and what they think the setting looks like. I’m not a very visual person, so I don’t often visualise characters, and I tend to see the locations more, but even then it’s rare. So being able to see how someone else sees the world, is fascinating, and I guess because I don’t really have any notion of what my character looks like, I can’t compare my character to the one chosen. You don’t have to agree with every decision, or love every moment of the movie, you just have to enjoy the fact that a story you love so much, and are such a big fan of, has been turned into a visual format, for you to enjoy. Plus, you have to agree that when a movie comes out, a lot more attention is given to the book it was based on, so that means more sales and more fans! Though then, the issue becomes people’s obsession with being the ‘first’, and the ‘original’ fans before the movie tend to ostracise those who come after the movie, simply because they were ‘joining the bandwagon’, but that’s another issue altogether.
Movies are there for us to enjoy, they are an extension from the book. They aren’t there to replace the book, just enhance it. I know I’d love to continue to see more books being translated into film, and I’m excited to see Catching Fire, Life of Pi (I’ve only just starting reading it), Mockingjay and The Book Thief (yes you heard right, it’s becoming a film!). It’s fine to compare, but when it comes down to it, the movie is an entity in itself, and it doesn’t care if you don’t like it, you’ve already bought the ticket.