Sunday, November 23, 2008

The book is always better

It's inevitable.
You read a book.  You fall in love.  The characters are so romantic.  So wonderfully flawed.  So unique.  The dialogue is witty.  The story is timeless.  It's hopeful.  It's legendary.  It's audience is worldwide and it's hype is monumental.  
So, of course, they make a movie.  They get a lot of pretty people to star in it.  They get some popular pop rock band to write a theme song and we line up, money in hand, expectations soaring.
And we are always disappointed.
Well, not always.
What is the formula?  How do we transform the amazing story that we experienced on paper into a cinematic reality and remain true to the integrity of the work?  What are the necessary components to satisfy the audience's high hopes?
It's worked before.  The Client.  Loved the book.  Loved the movie.  The only real discrepancy was that in the book the guy drove a Caddy and in the film it was a Buick.  Or vice verse.  Anyway, it was a great film rendition of the book.  
And the Harry Potter films.  What do we think of them?  Well, they are entertaining, sure, and after the first two came out a little tame and lame, they stepped up and got the budgets for some really fun sequences.  But are they as good as the books?  Do they really do the story justice?  In my opinion, not really.
Lord of the Rings...good, but not as good as the books.  Where was Tom Bombadil?!  
The Other Boleyn Girl?  Not even close.
The Divinci Code?  Don't even get me started.
Is it that the movie makers get it wrong? Or are stories just better when written?  
Recently I watched Atonement.  I have never read the book.  I wanted to I just never got around to it.  But I've got a Netflix account so the movie showed up last week and I watched it.  I loved it!  The acting.  The story.  The directing.  The cinematography.  The soundtrack!!  Oh, that soundtrack, with the typing and the violins.  Everything came together for an amazing cinematic effect and I enjoyed every moment of it.  Now, friends of mine who had read the book claimed disappointment after seeing the movie but I had nothing to judge it against and therefor had no expectations.  I was free to enjoy the film with no agenda.  And enjoy it I did.  
I never read the Notebook and actually avoided seeing the movie for years but when I finally broke down and watched it, I loved it.  No expectations.
So what's the answer?  Why do some movie versions turn out great and others are disastrous?
No idea.
So, kids, I guess what I'm saying is live life with no expectations and you'll never be disappointed!  And always see the movie before you read the book.
And never come to me for answers.  What do I know?

1 comment:

Sarah said...

They key is to stop reading all together. Period. That way when you see the movie, no disappointment will be necessary. Really when you compare a book to a movie, you are comparing your vision against the directors, which will inevitably be flawed. (The director's vision, not yours since you are always right... right?!)

Though I will agree that the movie in question, is nowhere as great as the book, I was still entertained, and will watch subsequent sequels when they appear on the big screen.

It also doesn't hurt to have a major hottie as leading man... I mean monster.