Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Further Proof that Hollywood Ruins Everything

I have a total hate/more hate relationship with books to movie/TV and vice versa. I never read those books that are based on the characters of a TV show, and I loathe movies based on books. So much, that I refused to see the movie Shutter Island after someone told me how great the book was. Didn't want to ruin it.  I almost cried when I saw Golden Compass. And not good tears. Angry, I-want-to-punch-someone-in-the-head-why-is-Lyra’s-mother-blonde-for-godsakes tears. There’s nothing worse than a great book ruined by an awful movie interpretation. Even baby seals agree.
How could you not trust that face?

And so far my expectations have held true. I’ve never really watched a movie adaptation of a book that was better than the book (well, except for the Lord of the Rings, but I have an unreasonable dislike of Tolkien. I blame my elementary school librarian). So I’m really nervous that the Hunger Games is being turned into a movie. The trilogy is probably my favorite of all time (yeah, I just said that. Suck it, Tolkien and the librarian whose name I can’t remember) and I haven’t even read the last book yet. But I’m already losing sleep over the fact that some overly tanned director with too much ego will turn Katniss into some simpering female more worried about her love triangle than surviving tracker jackers.

Yeah, I know, I need a hobby.

What do you think? Do you like books turned into movies? Or, like me, do you prefer to retain control over the story (because BOOKS are like MOVIES in your HEAD)?


Heather said...

In general I don't like books turned into movies. But there are definitely exceptions. I've read two Nicholas Sparks books and watched a few of his movies, and the movies were all better than the books. (Particularly The Notebook, which is one of my favorite movies ever but was a book that I just couldn't get into.) And though I haven't seen it, I've heard the Forrest Gump movie is better than the book.

As someone who read Shutter Island, the movie adaptation is pretty true to the book. They play around with the ending and some other elements a bit, but it's not rip-your-eyes out hatred. The Golden Compass was an abomination.

What might save us with The Hunger Games is that Suzanne Collins got to write the script - the first draft anyway. So at least she had some input on the characters and the plot, and cut it down to size without losing the essence of the story. I'm looking forward to seeing a trailer before I write it off.

Cynthia Leitich Smith said...

I know this may sound overly pragmatic...

But in case it makes you feel better, there's nothing that can better promote a book than a movie.

It helps the book to reach thousands of readers who otherwise wouldn't have connected with it.

And that, in turn, gives the author income to continue writing, to afford rent, health insurance/medical care, basic business expenses, etc.

A lot of "name" authors (critically acclaimed but not big commercial sales) quietly struggle hard to make ends meet, and some of their books are made into movies.

And a lot of relatively commercially successful authors are still living without the guarantee of steady income that makes things like qualifying for mortgages and paying for college tuition a challenge.

(Yes, there are folks with family money, wholly supportive spouses, and mega hits, but for the most part, the writing life is a big financial challenge).

Teh Awe-Some Sauce said...

@Heather: I'd heard the same thing, and I know Collins wrote for TV for years, but I still have nightmares about Golden Compass. The trilogy was my absolute favorite (until HG) and I actually considered writing the director some hate mail, but decided I didn't want to end up on some FBI watch list.

@Cynthia; Good point about how movies to books can keep an author in the green. It's too easy to forget how little money authors make.

Sarah Enni said...

I am so worried about the Hunger Games movie! In addition to worrying about Katniss being played by some too-pretty ditz and my Peeta not being hot enough and Gale not being emo enough, I am worried they will tone down the gore. Those books weren't pulling any punches, and without seriously intense on-screen deaths, the point will be completely lost.

My friend is reading Harry Potter for the first time, and after book 3 she went and watched all the movies that are out. !!! I was mortified.

Cholisose said...

Hmm, I think movies based off books *can* be good. I try to judge the movies by their own merits though, rather than comparing them to their source material. Movies can't do everything that books can (not even close), but they can still be enjoyable if handled well.

I haven't read the Golden Compass, but to be honest I kind of liked the movie... >_> I might be the only one, though.

Teh Awe-Some Sauce said...

@Sarah: Glad someone shares my angst. Yes, totally agree about the deaths. Every death was so meaningful in book one, and pushed Katniss towards her goal.

@Choliose: Ahhhhh! Don't say that ;) Seriously, go read the books. I think you'll like them.

Emily Marchman said...

I always feel anxious when a book I love is being turned into a movie. Part if it is that there have been so many done so badly, but I think most of it is that my experience with the book is private and personal, and movies are pretty much completely commercial--especially when they're targeted to younger audiences. I'm sure it's great business for all behind it, but it takes a lot of the magic away from me.

Emily said...

Man, there's nothing worse than a movie that destroys its book version. (Though I completely agree w/ Cyn...there's no better buzz for a book, no matter the author/publisher/previous sales, than a movie.)

BUT I love when a movie does a book justice. I think it's all about GETTING the book. HIGH FIDELITY the movie was set in Chicago, whereas the book (possibly my favorite grown up book ever) takes place in London. Barry in the book is tall, thin, and bald. Barry in the movie was one of Jack Black's breakout roles. And it is one of my all time favorite movies because it GETS what Nick Hornby was saying when he wrote Rob and Barry and Dick and Laura and all the insanity of their world. So if you haven't read/seen HIGH FIDELITY, go do it. Because I said so. *whip*

Cassay said...

I love books that get turned into movies...I really think I am the only one its probably because I was a movie watcher before a reader. I only started reading about 2 years ago so i pretty much watched movies instead. also, watching the movie helps me decide if I should read a book (I know shoot me) but my to be read list is too big that I have to be like that. I agree with Cholisose I loved The Golden Compass and I hated the book series I struggled to get through them (sorry). I found the movie had a nice straight line to it where the book seemed to jump around. Being a huge Lord of the Rings movie fan I was excited to read the book only to be let down :'( (I know shoot me again) Out of all teh book to movies that I have seen there is not one movie that I have hated. I dunno maybe that is just me and I'm just a crazy movie lover I do own over 300 dvds.....

YA-5 said...

Ramona and Beezus was one of the best adaptaions I've ever seen. True to story and character I cannot say enough things about it. Usually sci-fi graphic novels, books and shorts adaptations do very well as films. I AM LEGEND is a great example of one. Fight Club another and Cool Hand Luke yet another (not sci-fi). Another great kids adaptation was How to Train Your Dragon. I think it all depends on what you are looking for and your expectation. The first Twilight film suffered from budget issues. The subsequent ones have gotten better as the production budgets grew. Where The Wild Things Are--I don't even know what they may have been smoking. But Cynthia makes an absoultely valid point. Films can often give a book more traction. Is it a perfect science? No. Its two totally different mediums and must be treated as such. The delivery is so different. For the most part however, I agree with you, Justina. Making fans of books happy via the film is a difficult task!


novelsontherun said...

I do agree with your comment. 2 books that spring straight to mind that were totally botched up into a movie are:
1. Twilight
2. Eragon
Blurgh, blurgh and blurgh. I am not sure if the screenplay writer for each had really and truly read the books first!
To a lot of people it is seen as a big compliment to have a book turned into a movie - the risk there is the author has next to no control over the direction of the movie - as the credits always read...."Based on the novel by..." Based is such a loose word!!

Novels On The Run

Kelly Barnhill said...

I'm so glad someone else is worried about a Hunger Games movie! The thought makes me absolutely sick. The fact is, the story is so much more present, visceral and real in book form. In a book, you experience the story; in a movie, you watch through a window.

My agent asked me about my thoughts regarding my book as a movie, and I swear to god, I nearly barfed on my laptop at the thought of it.

Kelly Barnhill said...

Oh, and Emily: Totally agree re: High Fidelity. When a movie attempts to get at the book's *heart* rather than its *minutia*, it's gonna work as a film. With Fight Club, I thought the movie beat the book by a long shot.

Post a Comment