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The Movie Wasn't Like the Book!

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The Movie Wasn't Like the Book!

Post Number:#1  Postby Dougiezerts » 19 Aug 2012, 17:55

When a book is turned into a movie, how closely should it follow the book? Should it be word-for-word, or do you see nothing wrong with the director taking liberties with it?
Personally, I feel that if it's a bonafide masterpiece, then the movie version should follow the book as much as possible. If it's a more modern work, then it's OK to take liberties, especially if the author approves.
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Re: The Movie Wasn't Like the Book!

Post Number:#2  Postby fkeru » 20 Aug 2012, 02:01

I try to make it a point to never watch a movie based on a book i've read because even the smallest change, like the lead character having slightly curly hair instead of the wild mess described in the book throws me off. My friends get so annoyed with me because i keep going, "That wasn't in the book" or "That's not how it happened". For me if the movie is not a direct word-for-word translation of the book (and it never is) then i'll never completely enjoy it. Also there are some books that should just NOT be turned into a movie (if anyone has read Where Rainbows End by Cecelia Ahern you'll understand why the movie would be a complete disaster)
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Re: The Movie Wasn't Like the Book!

Post Number:#3  Postby varnish7 » 20 Aug 2012, 05:24

I think movies should try to stick as close as possible to the books they're based on. Obviously, you can't include every nuance of the book. However, the movies shouldn't deviate too much from the original plot line. Also, if a character is described as, say, African-American, then there should be an African-American actor playing that part. I also agree with what fkeru said about how not every book should be a movie. If the book is really short or there isn't that much in the way of actual action, then it's not a good idea to try to add new plot devices in order to stretch it out into a two hour movie.
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Re: The Movie Wasn't Like the Book!

Post Number:#4  Postby DATo » 22 Aug 2012, 02:09

I think it would be impossible for a movie to include virtually everything that is in the book because what a writer can put down in a few paragraphs would be very costly to replicate on the movie screen. A good screenwriter attempts to capture the essence of the book while judiciously editing out scenes which do not contribute enough to the main plot line.

In my opinion the finest adaptation of a book to screen was To Kill A Mockingbird. Even in this movie not all of the book was included but the screen writers were VERY deferential to the book and Harper Lee was pleased with the outcome. I suppose that is the litmus test of all screen writing - when the author him/herself praises the movie ... which Harper Lee, in this case, did.
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Re: The Movie Wasn't Like the Book!

Post Number:#5  Postby BookNymphoJae » 23 Aug 2012, 12:02

That's an interesting question. Obviously some books are beloved by millions of readers and it's a pity when they are adapted into films and then changed. Of course the goal of the film is to make money but I wish some would respect the story, writing, characters, etc. and preserve the book in its original form. Then again, I'm sure there are also purists who don't think books should be adapted into films at all because it's impossible to do them justice, no matter how close you stick to the plot.

On the other hand, there are some movies that I think have improved upon the book or the story. Perhaps an author had an idea and wrote a book. Then, another writer got inspired by that story but had a different idea, perhaps adding an additional element to make it more suspenseful, or changing the ending, etc. That doesn't mean the original story is bad, just that a basic story can take so many different turns and still be gripping. In that case the writers have to buy the book rights and "adapt" it for film, but that might just be a formality so they don't get sued.
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Re: The Movie Wasn't Like the Book!

Post Number:#6  Postby MysFan » 23 Aug 2012, 14:30

Like so many posts I have read on this forum, I find I can agree with points in each. Clearly movies are created to make money. I think that someone asked Tom Cruise once if one of his recently released movies was a disappointment because of what the interviewer implied was a lack of talent, not just on Cruise's part, but on the other actors in the movie. His reply was that the movie made like $15 million the first day!!!! Of course the comments also included how the inner meaning was subtle and might have been missed by some not so discerning audience!!!!

I know there are many who would differ, but it seems to me that Mr. Cruise is not ever going to be accused of being a major talent, but again he is a huge box office draw. So many would go to see him no matter what role he was playing.

There have been numerous times I was very disappointed after reading a book to see the movie. I really enjoyed Gone With the Wind, but everyone knows what a hard time the author had with it, even though she started out as a consultant. The other side of the argument was that the movie would have been like nine hours long it if had stuck to the book. And would it have even been representative of the era without Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable? I don't think there could have been anyone else to play Rhett Butler better. Although he did not want to do that movie from what I have read.

And then there is the deal where the movie might not have been so bad had they chosen different actors. Just made bad choices or the ones that would have worked best were not available (or even still alive)!!! One really horrible example is the remake of Hamlet where Mel Gibson played the lead. What a mess!!! But the story line was followed!!! (There is always much controversy around this anyway as the argument is just how old did Shakespeare intend for Hamlet to be?) But it would not have mattered in the case of this movie.

I saw a play in Seattle at the Seattle Repertoiry Theatre many years ago. Seattle is considered an innovative place and the writer decided to go all out on this one. It was a production of Romeo and Juliet, set in the appropriate time, but written as a comedy!!!! Great reviews!!!! My friend and I were so shocked we sat through the whole thing because we simply could not believe it!!! I felt Shakespeare rolling in his grave!!!

But then I loved the Maltese Falcon with Humphrey Bogart. His acting ability fit perfectly with this role. Although it was not easy to please Dashielle Hammett, and from what I read he was his own worst critic, he may even have liked this film adaptation. I don't know if he did or not, even though I think he was alive when it was made.

Although I loved both movies, what do you all think of how Arthur Conan Doyle would have reacted were he still alive today to the portray of Sherlock Holmes by Morton Downey Jr.? And wasn't Doctor Watson way out there too? But they were both great!!!

So many examples of complete failure and monumental success. And most likely many opinions about my opinions!!!
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Re: The Movie Wasn't Like the Book!

Post Number:#7  Postby sevilleaudrey1 » 24 Aug 2012, 01:44

Yes it is true!
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Re: The Movie Wasn't Like the Book!

Post Number:#8  Postby DATo » 24 Aug 2012, 04:21

MysFan wrote:
Although I loved both movies, what do you all think of how Arthur Conan Doyle would have reacted were he still alive today to the portray of Sherlock Holmes by Morton Downey Jr.? And wasn't Doctor Watson way out there too? But they were both great!!!


I think this is both the dilemma and the opportunity we encounter when we consider the original author's view of contemporary adaptations of their work. One of the things that makes my flesh crawl, and I'm sure would make an original author's flesh crawl, if not totally befuddle him, is hearing contemporary phrases used in movies with an historical setting. In the movie Gettysburg the Gen. Buford character is heard to say, "It will take awhile for General Reynolds to bring his men online." A term Gen. Buford no doubt borrowed from his knowledge of internet jargon? On the other hand Doyle mentions a object called a "gasogene". When I encountered this term I had no idea what a gasogene was nor could I have distinguished one from an ape to save my life.

When we read Doyle, for instance, we are transported to the world and the times that Doyle actually lived in. No contemporary writer or movie maker could accurately describe those times with the same acumen that a person who lived then could. It is more than a description of the setting, it is more precisely a "feel" for a way of life and the ethos of those times in all of its subtle characteristics and implications.

One of the great advantages we have but often do not consider is that by reading authors of the past we are reading descriptions not only of the times but also of the mentality and mores of the people of those times. For example, George Elliot and Dickens were among the first to address the difficult living standards of the lower classes of their era. Today we are acutely aware of the evil of human bondage and are reminded of human rights violations constantly in the media so the impact is diluted, but in the days of Dickens and Elliot the suppression and exploitation of the poor was simply an accepted part of life. Their descriptions of this state of affairs, I'm sure, resonated far more profoundly to readers in their own times than they do in ours. So I suppose what I am trying to say is that we might consider what an author of the past describes in his/her writing as a sort of time machine into the past; however, most of us just read the book for the story and oft times miss the opportunity to explore the essence of what the writer is including between the lines.

I think the best historical movies (or books) are those which very closely attempt to capture the essence of the times. One example I could cite was the movie adaptation of Steinbeck's The Grapes Of Wrath starring Henry Fonda. When watching this movie I felt that I was getting a very real description of what it was like to be poor during the "Dust Bowl" days. Another example I could cite was the movie, Thirteen Days which dealt with the Cuban Missile Crisis as recorded by Presifent Kennedy's speech writer Ted Sorenson in his book Kennedy. I lived in those times and I can assure you that the seriousness of impending nuclear war was very well captured in the movie, but young people today cannot begin to feel the terror of those "thirteen days" because they did not experience it first hand. Which brings me back to my previous observation : that we have an excellent opportunity to vicariously understand history better by paying close attention to the what an historical author writes. I do not think that there is any substitute for the work of a writer with access to first-hand observation.
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Re: The Movie Wasn't Like the Book!

Post Number:#9  Postby Bighuey » 25 Aug 2012, 20:39

I agree. It would be almost impossible to maka a movie word for word to the book. For instance, Lord of the Rings. If they made it word for word as the book I would still be watching it. If they keep the same feeling as the book I think that is what is important. I remember watching the 1954 version of War of the Worlds when it first came out, and I enjoyed the movie but I was disappointed that it was nothing like the book. But as the years went by, I realized it had the same flavor as the book, the sheer terror of the Martians invading was the same. But sadly, not many movie adaptations do that.
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Re: The Movie Wasn't Like the Book!

Post Number:#10  Postby Dougiezerts » 25 Aug 2012, 21:07

A friend of mine told me an interesting article he read. It was about a college proffessor who felt that Tolkian would not have approved of the LORD OF THE RINGS movie.
Of course, I guess we'll never know for sure, will we?
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Re: The Movie Wasn't Like the Book!

Post Number:#11  Postby Nedra15 » 26 Aug 2012, 09:34

varnish7 wrote:I think movies should try to stick as close as possible to the books they're based on. Obviously, you can't include every nuance of the book. However, the movies shouldn't deviate too much from the original plot line. Also, if a character is described as, say, African-American, then there should be an African-American actor playing that part. I also agree with what fkeru said about how not every book should be a movie. If the book is really short or there isn't that much in the way of actual action, then it's not a good idea to try to add new plot devices in order to stretch it out into a two hour movie.


I agree. I refused to see any movie based on the book. They never get it right in the movies and I'm not going to let them ruin a book I loved with all the changes and horrible actors.
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Re: The Movie Wasn't Like the Book!

Post Number:#12  Postby fitzml » 26 Aug 2012, 12:40

Occasionally I'll read a book and think, "That would have been a fantastic book, if only..." In that case, I wouldn't mind a movie taking liberties that help a book realize its full potential.
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Re: The Movie Wasn't Like the Book!

Post Number:#13  Postby MysFan » 28 Aug 2012, 19:14

Yes, there have been great adaptations from books, and many of us enjoy at least some of the adaptations even though they don't follow the story in the book, or in any way the feel of the times. It is very difficult to make movies about the past, whether based on books, of original for the screen, and get the times right. There is the heart of the writer and what he or she meant to convey through their use of current language of the times, which of course we can't "get" because we cannot speak to the author. And then there is the choice of actors to portray the parts. And when some of us have lived through the times, it is even more difficult to see on screen. I cannot sit through any movie about John Kennedy, because they are often based on rumors of his life and character, and a wide range of theories about who is responsible. And on a personal note they usually put some footage from the actual shooting in Dallas into the film. Watching this scene over and over again is just impossible because I was actually alive the day he died and saw it all in prime time. I imagine if they could have made movies about the assassination of Lincoln in those times, many would have felt the same.

So many of our older films do not choose the right actors, and of course we see that characters from different ethnic backgrounds are not a part of these movies. As many African-American actors today note either they were portrayed as one type (as in the movieportraying the Civil War, or from the seventies), or they are not chosen at all for the parts. Can anyone forget who has seen the movie Bert Lancaster's portray of a Native American chief? And in many Westerns, Native Americans were not selected and neither were Hispanics. I am very glad that we are not living in those times anymore. But we can see from the movies that were made, at least from books, that they were far from the reality of the times.
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Re: The Movie Wasn't Like the Book!

Post Number:#14  Postby Tralala » 28 Aug 2012, 23:02

In some cases, I actually end up enjoying a movie more than I would if I hadn't read the book, 'cause I (think) I see more going on in the character than what's really there... I liked Revolutionary Road more than I should have 'cause I was "hearing" internal dialogue that wasn't there in the movie. Actually, Rev. Rd. is the only movie that I can think of, as an example. Hmmm...
How perfectly goddamned delightful it all is, to be sure.
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Re: The Movie Wasn't Like the Book!

Post Number:#15  Postby RuqeeD » 29 Aug 2012, 15:07

I don't mind if a movie is not exactly one hundred percent like the book, if the screenplay is written well, the actors are good and the visualisation is good too. It wont ever be better than the book its based on but good entertainment nevertheless. Harry Potter comes to mind. The movies don't really stick to the books all the way through, and they change a lot of the important plot details that would normally annoy the hell out of me but I enjoyed it immensely, I just put the books out of my mind otherwise I'd be saying 'That's not what should have happened, or they missed this out', and I'd be saying it quite a lot.

But when they try to make the movie from a book and mess it up so disastrously (Golden Compass for one) it grates no end. What a mess that movie was. I'm surprised they managed to get the characters' name the same.
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