As a film student this is a bit of a sore subject with me. Every book addict has an opinion on how books should be made into films and I see them on Facebook or tumblr or somewhere else and I just think, “There is no way that would work.” My favorite one is turning books into tv shows with every book in a series as a season and every chapter an episode. I don’t know who published that on tumblr but I saw it on Facebook and got into a long argument with people about why that wouldn’t work. It wouldn’t work because every chapter and every book in most series all vary in length. So what? Is there going to be one episode that’s like 5 minutes and another that’s 2 hours and one season that’s 5 episodes and another that’s 20? It doesn’t work. Another reason that I’m against this is, for me, if a show follows a book too closely I’d have issues paying attention since I already know everything. This works if I see the show first or read the book first. I’m like that with anime and manga a lot of the time. If the anime is almost panel for panel of the manga I can’t watch it till a decent amount of time has passed since I read it so it’s not fresh in my mind.
If you ask me, the most honest way for a show to accurately represent it’s book is to have the author of the book write or co-write the screenplay. There are 3 examples I know of that proves this theory. The Princess Bride by William Goldman, The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle, and The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke. I have personally seen the move and read the books for all three of these titles. The most famous out of the three of them is definitely The Princess Bride and I also know that there will be people out there who disagree with the adaptation of the movie but, really, the only things they left out were Inigo and Fezzik’s backstories and the ending that happened after Buttercup and Westley rode off together. All of those subplots were left out of the movie for one reason or another. The backstories because in the onscreen world of the story the backstories didn’t matter and the ending because it wasn’t as cinematic as the ending that was used. Think of that last shot before the grandfather finished the book. The sun rising in the background and how it lit everything up and was the background for Westley and Buttercup’s kiss and how it signified the beginning of their new life together.
The other two titles I mentioned had similar sub-plots left out of them and in the case of The Theif Lord some of the characterizations of the characters were a little off from how the book portrayed them but, when I watched it almost immediately after reading the book, I was blown away by how much of an accurate representation it was. It was an amazing movie with amazing casting. Even the characters that were different from their book version brought the character a new sense of life.
All in all, I don’t believe their is a way to take a book from being a book and just throwing on the big screen exactly as it was written, nor do I think anyone ever should. If some brave soul did try it, I honestly think the movie would flop. Books to movies aren’t just meant to please book addicts who want actors to act out the book as is with no changes but also to bring in new fans to this amazing world who, for whatever reason, don’t read. Movies are to please a broader audience than books do. Book lovers can be extreme and way into the fictional world of their books. Their are even a large number of books with book lovers as the protagonist. Movies cater to a more casual audience who just want to spend 2-3 hours distracting themselves from their daily lives more so than spend hours and hours absorbed in books.
So. Movies should try to stay true to the books they came from. Especially if they want to do well. But they don’t have to be word for word, action for action, to accomplish this. All it takes for a movie to stay true to it’s original is for the production company to let the original author be involved in every process as much as possible. Especially the script and post production.
I’d love to hear everyone else’s opinions on the matter if you have any strong opinions about it like I clearly do.