Book to Screen Adaptations

January 14, 2014 at 11:42 am

I think everyone who is a book lover has, at some point, seen a movie of a book they love. From what I hear, most of us find them a pale copy of the original work.

I think the first book to screen adaptation I ever saw was Charlotte’s Web, from the 1970s cartoon adaptation. It was quite accurate, as I recall, the only difference being the timing of when Charlotte died. I mentioned a few weeks ago being disappointed as a child at changes made to Disney’s version of 101 Dalmatians. Since then, I have seen many changes to many stories as they made their way to the large and small screen, usually with considerably different degrees of accuracy.

I remember well the Anne of Green Gables TV miniseries they did in the ’80s. The first one was reasonably accurate, but the second combined elements of three different books and made major story alterations. At first, I wasn’t happy about this, but then I began to appreciate the new angles and scenes that the miniseries gave me and I enjoyed it for what it was.

Ironically, I now think that sometimes a little deviation works better. When movies try to cram in too much of the book the movie usually seems (to me) to be hurried and cluttered. The Little Women movie in the ’90s was pretty accurate, but although critics raved about it, I hated it. It felt rushed as they tried to get all the major story elements in. I didn’t think it worked at all.

So I have decided that I don’t mind a little deviation, especially if it helps the story work well as a movie. After all, movies and books are two different mediums that tell stories in different ways. I think it’s unrealistic to expect a good movie to be made if allowances aren’t made in the transfer from book to screen. There are still some things I hold sacrosanct, such as the characters themselves and their behaviour. That should be true to the book, no matter how much the scenes themselves change. I’m also not fond of giving characters different fates from the ones in the books. I don’t think that’s necessary, but I’m not the kind of person who’s going to get upset over every little change.

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