Not as good as the book: being THAT person.

A lot of movies are based on these things called books. Books are (usually) filled with kind of original ideas, and typically they have a beginning, middle, and end. Not always. Anyway, these days, it seems like quite a few of these moviefilms are based on books. This can be awesome. I appreciate being able to see my favorite characters come alive on screen, because when it's well-done (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is one shining, silvery example), it rocks. I love seeing wonderful love stories from fiction turn into visual representations of romance. However, I am also a book person before I am any other kind of person. This is not good sometimes because it makes me look like a picky jerk. "I really liked that," I'll say, as we head out of the theater, "but the ending in the book is so much more _____." Or, "In the book, those characters were developed more, so that relationship felt truer." Or, "There are things in the book that cannot possibly be translated to screen, so that didn't feel as satisfying." Usually, the people I go to the movies with look at me and say, "But you liked it, right? Isn't that what matters?" This is where I have a conflicted soul. On one hand, the movie is a separate entity from the book. Most movies based on books are just that: based on them. They are not the book in visual format, they are adaptations of the books' themes, characters, and plots. I should be able to enjoy a movie for its entertainment value and inherent merit, rather than basing my judgment on my own interpretation of a source material. On the other hand, they get it wrong so often. Let's take The Box as an example. The story it's based on, "Button Button," by Richard Matheson, is seriously one of the creepiest, skin-crawlingest stories I've ever read. It's such a short, simple, and brutal story. The ending has no closure, you don't like any of the characters as people (even though you barely know them), and Matheson puts such an eerie twist on the end that I had to put the book down for a while after I finished that one. As far as simplicity goes, there are three main characters in the story. It takes place in a New York City apartment. Matheson doesn't "show you" any violence.zorb balls for sale The movie is an overly complicated mess. They cast Cameron Diaz as Norma, the main character, so they had to make everything a little younger. They gave the main characters a kid. (In the story, Norma and Arthur never had children.) There is no room in big Hollywood movies, I think, for simple, little, terrible (for the characters) stories. "Button, Button" is a small story: there are no explosions or gunshots, and the characters' lives don't really affect anyone else. I don't think people realize that words can do things that visuals cannot and vice versa; imagine trying to read a traditional fiction version of Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life. That would be ridiculous. Just as ridiculous would be to expect a film version of a favorite book to match up to the actual text. I definitely need to lower my expectations. I'm really trying to just sit back and enjoy movies based on books, instead of looking for inconsistencies; I really am. But until the day when I can relax my brain enough to separate the movie from the book, be prepared for me to make some annoying comparisons afterward.

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Amanda Hyphenated is a librarian in Madison, Wisconsin. She likes cats, coffee, tattoos, and young adult literature. Her obsessions include The Clash, Stephen King, and Castle Crashers.

One Response to “Not as good as the book: being THAT person.”

  1. Jessica August 14, 2010 at 11:57 pm #

    I had a really hard time watching True Blood when it first premiered for the same reason. Once I started thinking about them as separate entities it helped. But sometimes I still find myself saying, “the book went in such a better direction here” or “this wasn’t even in the series at all!” and shaking my fist a lot.

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