Thursday, December 15, 2011

Turning Books into Films

I have a lot of favourite books. They're the one's I've read over and over again until I've memorised whole passages and can imagine every character and scene in my head in full colour and motion.

Now if there's one thing I like almost as much as reading my favourite books, it's watching them on DVD. I'm always excited to hear of a favourite story being turned into a film, and am eager to watch the film and see how it compares to the book.

I was extremely excited when I heard that The Lightning Thief had been turned into a film. In fact I even went to see it in the cinema, which is rare for me. But although it was a great film, and has been added to our collection, it wasn't satisfying to me.

This made me think. What makes a good movie adaptation of a film? Why do some adaptations work better than others?

For me, the best adaptations are the ones that stick fairly true to the story and have good actors who fit the parts. The BBC mini series of Pride and Prejudice is my favourite film version of the book, simply because it is so much like the original story, and so much like I imagine it in my head. Little Dorrit and The Lord of the Rings are more examples of good adaptations by my standards.

Where Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief failed for me was that is was so different. So much had been changed, altered. All the things I loved most about the book and had hoped to see in the movie were missing. It was too different. And it was disappointing for those reasons.

I don't say that films loosely based books are bad. Taken as films, they're good. They just don't work as film versions of books for me.

What makes a good film adaptation for you? What are your favourite adaptations of books?


  1. That's interesting. I liked the book but haven't seen the movie yet. If it's not like the book, I don't see much point in seeing it now....

    I pretty much agree with you, and yes, my favorite has got to be the BBC Pride and Prejudice.

  2. You have no idea how nervous I am for the Ender's Game movie that was just announced. I've waited for that film for years. I also can't wait for Tintin next week. I've read those books when I was a kid. A great asset to my adventure writing! :)

  3. I'm with you on The Lightning Thief movie. It was okay if you don't compare it to the book, which I just couldn't do. They changed too many things -- and the fact that Annabeth didn't have blonde hair and grey eyes bothered me throughout the whole movie. I mean, I know that just seems like an annoying detail for most movies, but the whole "daughter of Athena" thing made it seem important to me. Plus, I hated that they made most of the quest center around finding the pearls.

    I'm excited for The Hunger Games movie in March, but I'm also nervous. Hopefully it turns out okay; I adore the books.

    And the American spelling of grey is "gray" -- ugly, right? I've always hated it.

  4. Magdalen, I assume you're talking about Percy Jackson?

    I'd see the movie anyway, despite the fact it's so different. My sister Charlotte is extremely fussy about her film adaptations, and even she had to admit that, taken as an unrelated movie, it's good.

  5. David, I love the Tintin comics! I can't wait to see the movie when it comes out here.

    Ender's Game is written by James Dashner isn't it? I've heard a lot about that book, but haven't found it in our library. I have read his Thirteenth Reality series though, which I really enjoyed.

  6. Jenna, I'm in perfect agreement about the pearls. That was too much liberty with the book I think. You're absolutely right about Annabeth's hair and eyes. I did a double take when I saw her. In a lot of ways the movie really disappointed me, despite being a great film. I was looking for something as awesome as the book, and it just fell flat due to too much change.

    I haven't actually read The Hunger Games yet, though I've heard so much good about them. I've seen the trailer for the movie, and it looks pretty epic. I really do need to get my hands on those books.

    Ugh! Fancy changing the 'e' to an 'a' in grey. Sometimes American spelling really gets to me. Why change the perfectly nice looking spelling everyone else uses for something so ugly?