Kernels of Nonsense is a bi-monthly feature where I discuss various bookish topics. Today I will be delving into movie adaptations. These are my personal opinions, so please don’t take it too personally if I insult a movie version you love.
I’m not sure when it started, but somewhere along the line books became more important to me than movies or T.V. series. If I only had one form of entertainment at my disposal, books would be my medium of choice.
What I look for in a good movie adaptation is a faithful rendering of a book’s atmosphere and accurate characterization. Many movies based on books try to do too much and often much of what it is trying to adopt is introduced frivolously, which often confuses an audience not familiar with the novel. I do understand that movies are much more limited in time than books, so I never expect a 4+ hour movie with dialogue lifted right off the pages. I do, however, expect to feel something similar as I jump from one medium to another.
While many of these adaptations will persuade some to read the book, some may be turned off because of how the text is mishandled. This is tragic. Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s Beautiful Creatures was a book I really enjoyed (I ended-up giving it four-stars on Goodreads) with a Gothic setting and interesting characters. The movie, which came out in 2013, was simply terrible. Neither lead quite captured the protagonists from the book and the villain turned out to be a mother jealous that her daughter was young and beautiful (I don’t remember this in the novel and it really bothered me when I watched the movie).
There are some movie adaptations, though less than I would like, that I’ve actually loved. The Princess Bride, Anne of Green Gables, The Outsiders, and To Kill a Mockingbird are all wonderful in their own right and great books too. I’ve also enjoyed The Hunger Games adaptations (minus how much they push the romance). I’m not a big fan of Divergent, The Mortal Instruments, or Inkheart (they really butchered this wonderful book) .
Perhaps my expectations are too high, perhaps I place too much on the greatness of novels that I’ve held the films to a higher standard than if it was simply a movie. But I also feel that something is off in the storytelling with these films. Perhaps it is movie studios too eager to make a buck who are at fault: more inclined to produce the movie now than telling an intriguing story. A movie should be great on its own and it just seems that many of these film adaptations are relying on the prestige and popularity of the novel.
So now I have this set of books in my mind and every time I think about movie adaptations of them my stomach drops. The words “Don’t touch my baby!” come to mind. The misrepresentation of beloved characters and minimization of great storytelling terrifies me.
Once again, maybe I am being too hard. Maybe I need to learn to understand that books and movies are different mediums, and that some things that can be done in one cannot be done in the other. Thinking this only helps a little.
A few books I experience trepidation over when thinking of a film adaptation include: Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys (not Gansey, don’t think you can capture the wonderful Gansey on film, let alone the tortured Ronan, the sassy Blue, the vulnerable Adam, and the smudgy Noah) and Patrick Ness’s The Knife of Never Letting Go (how could one possible capture the NOISE on film without it being overwhelming?). I know the latter book’s movie rights have been sold and there was talk of a new screenwriter a few months ago, but it sounds like it keeps getting put off and I won’t lie, I’m glad to hear it.
What are your thoughts on movie adaptations? What are your favorite adaptations? Least favorite? Are there any books you feel so protective of, you hope they never make them into movies? Let me know in the comments.