This topic can hardly be seen as controversial. I’m sure it’s something that as readers, all of us have said at one time or another. When books are adapted for the screen (whether it be cinema or television) changes are going to be made. From poor casting choices to major plot alterations, stories are adjusted to differing degrees. On rare occasions, these changes bring something new and exciting to the piece, but for the most part they are going to disappoint someone.
I’m usually pretty laid back when it comes to my opinion of screen adaptions. If something adheres to what I see as the ‘spirit’ of the book, I’m usually happy. Take the Harry Potter series, for example. The world created in the films was almost exactly as I had imagined it when reading the books. They kept most of the main plot points in their places, and although I was disappointed that Peeves didn’t make the cut, I was still able to enjoy the parts that did make it onto the screen. My only concern with the films was that towards the end they left out a lot of explanatory details which may have confused people who hadn’t read the book…but that didn’t affect me personally.
People often express concern when they hear that a new adaption is going to be made of a favorite book. I was very concerned when one of my favourite series was recently adapted for TV. I’m not going to name names, mostly because
- They tell me the author was actually pretty happy with how the TV series turned out
- I’m afraid I may not be very nice about it
All I will say is that it’s a series of crime novels, and while I quite like the way the lead character is portrayed
- several of the main characters are nothing like I imagined they’d be
- several key characters were cut, and new characters were added in their place
- due to the format, most of the story lines were cut down to a ridiculous degree
- several new subplots (one completely out of character) were added to ‘tie the series together’
Let’s face it, they never tried any of that (insert the appropriate expletive here) on Agatha Christie’s novels…
Now that I’ve had my little rant, let’s get back on topic. I like to read the book first when I can. I’d much rather see the author’s original vision than someone else’s interpretation. I prefer to picture the scenes for myself, rather than rely on what I’m shown on the screen. There are some adaptions out now that I’m holding off from seeing until I’ve read the book/s.
- The Hunger Games trilogy
- A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones)
There have been times when for one reason or another I’ve seen the screen adaption first. If I like it, I’ll usually go on and read the book, and nine times out of ten, I’ll find that I still enjoyed the book more than the movie. So how about you? What screen adaptions have you loved or hated? Why??