If there is one thing that is sure to cause me a groan and a head banging, it is an announcement that some film company has acquired the rights to turn a beloved book into film. In general, fandoms rejoice when they hear this. And I will admit, for certain more beloved books of mine, I have fun with fellow fans picking actors and actresses (since I do love movies) for various characters. But in general, it just causes me distress and intestinal discomfort.
Most who know me are aware of my burning hatred for the Harry Potter films. Now don't misunderstand--I adore the books. I'm rereading them and am enjoying them as much as I enjoyed them the first time. Hell, I'm even being a total nerd and tvtroping and reading JKR's FAQ page on her website to get background information. I was in the Harry Potter club in high school (Cheers to you, Tonks! Inside joke between me and a friend who I swear looks like Tonks.) I wrote fanfiction (...still write fanfiction...shut up, we all have our moments of geekiness!) and attended the book release in costume. No judging.
But I freaking hate the films.
I could devote an entire blog post as to why I hate the films, but that's not what this blog is about. I generally hate everyone they cast (with the exceptions of Alan Rickman and those hot ginger twins they cast as Fred and George...) I hate that they leave out crucial plot points and I hate that the directors have little or no respect for the books. The latter is probably why I hate the film franchise the most.
Someone once asked me why I'm so understanding about the Narnia films having differences from the books but am completely anal about the HP films. I have to admit, this caused me some thought. Did I like the Harry Potter book series more than the Narnia book series? Ehhh...no...no, I don't think so, I'd say it's about equal. C.S Lewis is my favorite writer, true, but I don't think that Narnia was his best work (still awesome though!) whereas I'm not sure JKR could top the sheer mad genius that is Harry Potter. Feel free to prove me wrong, Ms. Rowling.
I'd say it's all about the respect. I feel that the directors of the Narnia films have a lot more respect for the books than the HP fim directors do. I feel like the HP directors sort of read the series and went, "Well, this is lovely, let's change shit and do whatever the crap we want, yippee!" Whereas the Narnia directors read the books and went, "This is fairly serious stuff in a really beautiful fantasy world, how can I best portray that in film?" Respect for the original books. For a book to film transition, I think that's absolutely crucial.
For some reason, Hollywood has this weird idea that they can 'improve' a best-selling novel in cinematic form by changing the plot. I don't know why they do this, because it rarely works and it only pisses the fans of the books off. The most immediate example of this is...
I have not met a single PJO book fan that actually liked this film adaptation, and I used the word adaptation in the loosest possible way. There is so much about this film that pisses me off...like...
Annabeth being a brunette. And being a weird mixture of Clarisse.
The characters are clearly in high school and around 16 or 17 when the books start out with Percy being 12. This wouldn't be so bad except the ENTIRE PLOT OF THE SERIES REVOLVES AROUND PERCY TURNING SIXTEEN.
Grover being...really...gangsta. That sounds really racist, I'm fine with them making him black, but it was like they did it to make the movie hip or something.
The movie giving away right off the bat that Percy's father is Poseidon.
But honestly, all of this could be ignored. Except for the fact that they CHANGED THE ENTIRE PLOT OF THE MOVIE.
With some weird thing about Persephone's Pearls? What?
Honestly, I survived the first thirty minutes of it and even thought, hey, this isn't so bad, but at the Persephone's pearls bit I just completely lost it.
I wish I could say that this is the only example of Hollywood screwing over a really good book. But it's not. They did it with...
They did it with...
(Admittedly I didn't like the book or the movie, so this isn't really close to my heart--but I have friends who are avid fans of this series and the movie pissed them the eff off.)
They're doing it with Gulliver's Travels (UGH, Jack Black as Gulliver?! Really?!), I'm willing to bet they'll do it with the new Jane Eyre movie that's coming out, THEY WILL ALWAYS FREAKING DO IT.
This is because, in my opinion, Hollywood is arrogant. Don't get me wrong, I love movies, and I will admit more work goes into a movie than it does in a book. But Hollywood is not the first to have original plots, stories, characters, character development, themes, and climax. Books did it first and books continue to do it better. Hollywood constantly has to juggle the technical aspects of telling a story whereas writers just use imagination and depend on their readers to do the same. Because of the work Hollywood has to do, it causes them to think they know what is better for an audience than a writer. That is arrogant and stupid. My point in succinct? I saw Ella Enchanted the movie in the five dollar bargain bin and the book won a Newberry award.
Very rarely is a film better than its book. I can think of a few examples, and these are all based on opinion.
Jurassic Park--I think Michael Crichton is a rubbish writer (may he RIP) because I find his characters pretentious and annoying. His plot ideas, however, are brilliant. The movies gave us memorable characters along with an interesting plot.
How to Train Your Dragon--I think these children books were really kind of dumb. Sorry. But the movie was absolutely delightful.
Gone With the Wind--I like the book too, but I find Vivien Leigh's Scarlett more likable than book Scarlett, though they were both bitches. But movie Scarlett is VIVIEN LEIGH.
Well, there you have it. Maybe someday Hollywood will take a hint and stop messing up beloved books when turning it into film.
But I won't hold my breath.