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Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Book was Better

With Harry Potter pretty much everywhere right now, I couldn’t help but bring up the subject of books being made into films. I am an avid reader and I tend to enjoy going to see what filmmakers can do to make a book work for the screen. In most cases, it is fairly easy to translate from page to screen, but in some cases, the book becomes just a jumping off point and the movie really doesn’t relate.

There are so many obvious choices for great books being turned into movies, it’s hard to choose just one. Whether it’s something classy and meaningful, like Gone with the Wind, or a romantic chick flick, like The Notebook, there are some fantastic screenwriters out there who can take a book and make it into a film that is just as good, if not better, than the movie. The writers have to deal with what to cut, what to change, and what to keep. In The Notebook, the ending is completely changed. (SPOIER ALERT!) Instead of Noah going on to live after Ally dies, as is what happens in the book, they both die together, making the movie close out in the possibly the most romantic way possible. In Gone with the Wind, the infamous “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” was not as dramatic in the book. Rhett is speaking to Scarlett in a room and says it quietly, as opposed to storming out and being forceful. Yet, in both those cases, the changes made were ones that made the films better than the books, and made them memorable.

The bad adaptations are a little easier to narrow down and I have a surprise for anyone who knows me: The Wizard of Oz is the worst adaption I can think of. It might be my favorite movie of all time, but after reading the book, I realized the writers changed it so drastically that the original book and the movie can no longer be compared. In the book, The Wicked Witch of the West is only in for one chapter, Dorothy is the one doing the rescuing, the shoes are silver not red, and Glinda is the Good Witch of the South and does not give Dorothy the slippers. The biggest change is that, in the book, Oz is a real place with new friends, not a dreamland inhabited by subconscious manifestations of people Dorothy knew. The movie is still my favorite, but this is the best example of how Hollywood takes a great work of literature and changes it to be almost unrecognizable against the original work.

Overall, I don’t have a problem with books being turned into movies. I like seeing how someone else viewed a book and turned it into what I’m seeing on the screen. Some people may say that it just adds to the lack of originality in Hollywood these days, and they might be right. But, in my opinion, if you can’t be original, at least be creative, and that is what these movies show me. Hollywood may have lost it’s originality, but definitely not its creativity.

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