“If there’s ever a movie about your life, who would you want to play you?”
It’s a question almost all of us have asked, or been asked at some point, whether over a few glasses of wine, or after taking in a particularly spectacular, or a spectacularly disappointing adaptation of a book. Whatever the circumstance, the actors we choose to play us in an "ideal" world are ones that we admire—be it for their philanthropy, looks, talent, or [most often] a combination of all those things.
For the record, I want my future self to be played by Sandra Bullock or Jennifer Lawrence, though the later would need to die her hair a few shades darker to make it an “accurate” portrayal.
It’s sort of a can of worms though, isn’t it? Talking about adaptations. For a piece of source material to be popular enough to be adapted into film, or any other form, it’s going to be beloved by a huge number of people. Harry Potter, the Chronicles of Narnia, Game of Thrones, and even something like Paddington Bear all come from stories filled with characters that we have fallen in love with, cherished, and imagined in our own ways.
How can any production team ever hope to capture all of those visions in a single?
Well, about 50% of the work is up to them. The other 50% is up to us.
In the field of Film Studies there’s something called “Adaptation Theory.” I asked my real-life friend, who has a real-life film degree if he could give me the definition for dummies. Essentially, the idea is to compare and contrast a movie and/or adaptation with its source material.
It’s easy to be hard on the people doing the adapting for leaving out a favourite scene, changing a character, or altering a timeline…but because we all know we’re going to go see the next instalment whether it’s good for our literature-loving souls, or not, without further adieu. here are the Dog-Eared Books Tips for Watching Movie Adaptations:
1. Would you want to sit in a theatre seat for twelve consecutive hours? Granted, with the way modern theatres are being designed the answer to this could very quickly shift from a resounding “no” to a plausible “maybe—for the right story.” I digress. If it took you twelve hours to read the novel version, in order to include everything the movie would need to run for at least as long.
Cuts are inevitable, the question really comes down to whether the spirit of the story is captured, rather than every individual moment.
Try to focus on the things that are there, rather than the things that might not be.
2. Embrace a new Point of view (POV), rather than fighting it.
For example: the Harry Potter books are told from Harry’s perspective; we see everything through “The Harry Filter.” Similarly, in Game of Thrones much of Jon Snow’s character development (in the books) comes from internal monologue. We don’t have access to those things seeing the events unfold from a third-person POV, on screen. This is going to change how some things are perceived, and even how some characters come across. Instead of getting stuck on what’s changed, try to appreciate the opportunity for a new level of understanding of the characters.
3. It’s okay to like one version more than the other. It's even okay to not like one of them at all. I’ll probably be banished from every literary circle that I’m a part of for this one, but... Austen and the Bronte sisters aren’t really my jam. I love what they did for women in society, literature, and academia, and I have huge amounts of respect for all of the things they accomplished… but I’m probably not going to be re-reading Mansfield Park in the near future. However, I will watch the BBC version of Jane Eyre, or Sense and Sensibility any time. Admittedly, the later may be influenced by the casting of Alan Rickman, but that’s an aside. It’s totally okay to like the book more than the movie, or even the movie more than the book. It’s also okay to not like one or the other at all. If you disagree with your friends it just makes for more interesting conversation.
TL;DR: Adapt responsibly, everybody!
Lynette is a writer, musician, and oxford comma purist by night, and a coffee-drinking fiend by day—in that order. For her, compelling characters make the world go round, one cracked-spine, marginalia-filled, dog-eared book at a time.