Books to Movies


I was at work the other day and we got to talking about books we had read and loved,  I mentioned Stephen King’s “IT” and said that the mini-series they did based on it was a big disappointment. The only thing I had liked about it was Tim Curry as Penny wise the clown because they had cut it up so much they lost a lot of what made it so good, and I was kind of shocked to be told that it was one of the best and scariest movies they had ever seen. I wasn’t surprised to find out that they had never read the book before seeing it and had not taken the time to read it after seeing it.

I have always loved movies whether television or the big screen. I have always been fascinated by the creative process and how they created the various worlds that I was able to immerse myself into. Now, I know that writing a script and writing a book are very similar but there seem to be subtle differences in how you go about making things tangible for your audience.  My problem, and maybe a few people would agree with me, is when the two are merged.  Books are an easy source for movie makers and many writers dream of having their work optioned by a studio. It means that they have created something that can really get to the widest audience which can only increase interest in their work, or at least that’s the hope. What film makers do after they get the book option is what bothers me. I cannot claim to be an expert or anything, but I really hate seeing books that I love turned into mediocre pap.

I understand the the concept of ‘artistic license’ but why bother saying a movie is based on a book if you only take the basic idea and title. When an author gives permission to do their book it sometimes is better if they are also given the option to write the screenplay for that work. I understand it is not always possible but they at least understand the story and can give their fans a real look at the book. Screenwriters have usually not read the book, though some are fans of their material like Peter Jackson who did a fantastic job with the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Over the years I have seen what I thought were good adaptations such as ; The Exorcist,  Carrie, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, and The Stand (mini series). I have also seen some less than great ones like ; IT (mini series), The Shining (Stanley Kubrick), Interview with the Vampire, and Queen of the Damned. The problems with the movies I did not like run the gambit from bad casting decisions to making changes to characters and the setting.  I used to be excited when I heard a book I was reading or had read was being made into a movie, now I can only think about what they are going to do to ruin it. Maybe I just take it all a little to personal but the fact that they can have the perfect template for a story and still mess it up amazes me.

Cover of "The Shining [Blu-ray]"

Cover of The Shining [Blu-ray]

Just a little rant because I read World War Z and though I have not seen the movie yet I can tell just from the trailers that they have changed a great deal to add a story of family. And now that they have cast Fifty Shades of Grey, and I of course do not agree with their choices, I have another adaptation to look forward to or dread.


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