I’ve always been fascinated by the different reactions people have to movies based on popular books. In many ways the passion of fans towards some literature rivals that of any movie. So naturally whenever a film is made based on a popular novel or book series you’re going to get a plethora of responses. But is it fair to hold a movie in contempt for steering away from the source material? Or is it fair to restrict a film within the bounds of the book(s) it is based on?
I tend to be pretty lenient when it comes to this subject. The reality is that movies are a drastically different storytelling medium than books. Movies are confined by time and have the added responsibility of visualizing what books allow us to create in our minds. There are a number of challenges that filmmakers face when bringing a popular bit of literature to the big screen and often times they are met by a very critical and biased audience.
But that’s not to say filmmakers get a free pass. I allow them a lot of creative liberties as long as they don’t abuse the story or key characters. As long as there exists respect for the source material I’m okay. But there are many examples of poor creative choices which has butchered the book(s) movies are based on. Just look at some examples from the comic book superhero genre. Joel Schumaker’s Batman films made a mockery of the character and his wonderful rogues gallery. The pathetic mistreatment of the Cyclops character in “X-Men: The Last Stand” was almost criminal. Even last year on a smaller scale “Iron Man 3” took a prominent character from Iron Man lore and obliterated him.
But there are other things worth considering as well. Is the movie intended to be a full on adaptation or is it loosely based on the book. I think people are often turned off from a movie because of its inaccuracies when it’s never intended to be a full adaptation of the book. “World War Z” is a good example. In many ways Max Brooks’ novel reads like a United Nations zombie report (as screenwriter Michael J. Straczynski noted). Realizing that, the film clearly took on a different form. So it was “loosely based” on the novel. Yet many took issue with the filmmakers’ divergences even though their intentions were obvious. So in that case is it fair to judge the film by anything other than its own merits. It’s an interesting question.
This is a tricky topic especially considering the passion of both movie and book fans. For me this is the perfect formula: Watch the movie first then read the book. This lets the movie be viewed objectively and allows the book to expand and broaden the story. But obviously that isn’t always possible nor is it fair to those who love reading. Just remember the hurdles and obstacles that filmmakers face and always consider their aim and intent. As long as they aren’t insulting or disrespecting the source material, we should be able to measure and appreciate their work if it’s done well.
So what are your thoughts on the subject? Agree or disagree? I’d love to hear your take in the comments section below. As always, thanks for reading.