Movies Versus Books

I always used to dread when a book I read, even if I didn’t love it, was made into a movie. Never was it a faithful adaptation, and I was always disappointed I could not see the exact character in my head come to life. As I have grown (older, wider, wiser) that has changed. Well, at least some.

Firstly, I now realize the character and interpretation of the story I have in my head is just mine. Others who read the same material might not have built the world the same way, and colored it with their own experiences. Re-reading old favorites really demonstrates this, as I often catch parts I missed on the first, second, or third read-through.

Secondly, so much of the telling of a story in literature form takes place within the character’s head. That is difficult to portray in a visual form, though there are techniques that can aid this. The best directors do this well, but they still cannot convey everything. Video format is the ultimate form of “show, don’t tell” because that is exactly what it does.

Thirdly, people and time cost money! The vast, sweeping details in the written form are limited when filming. They can only have so many sets. Favorite characters might be dropped or merged together, just because it is difficult to hire a huge cast, especially for minor characters. I mean, really, do you expect them to keep paying the same actor for a 5 minute role per movie, spread across a 10 year franchise? What if he gets a better job elsewhere? Money is a limiting factor, and, again, the best directors are still able to create a great film.

Now, when I watch a movie or series based on books I have read, I watch to see the director’s vision of this favorite. He or she will tell the story in a different way, and solve the budget, set, and actor/character issues in a  creative way, giving me something new with an old favorite. As long as the basic spirit of the story is still there, I will (try) to relax and enjoy it. For example, on Netflix’s “The Last Kingdom”, the actor for Uhtred is physically very than the character from Bernard Cornwell’s The Saxon Stories series. Alexander Dreymon IS Uhtred, though. Everything he does is exactly the character in the book, at least in spirit.

I still cannot relax when the science is wrong, wrong, wrong! Ten percent of your brain, NOOOOOOOO! Eh, that’s why I love fantasy. I can always say, “Maybe in that world mountains form without tectonic plates…” It gets me through, as long as the director or author still follows their own made-up rules.

Relax and enjoy the movie (or TV series). Like I plan to with the new Dune adaptation!

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