Books

Do Popular Books Make Good Films?

turning books into films

If, like me, you were late to the whole Hunger Games craze, you probably came across the film first. I rather enjoyed it, which lead me toward the book, paired with the advice from my friends that it was a hundred times better than the film. It turns out they were right, and I cried Peeta loving tears I didn’t even know I was capable of.

I engorged the trilogy in a matter of days, and was immediately encased in a pit of regret that I finished them so quickly. I often have this feeling of worthlessness when ending a book and it usually lasts until I start a new one.

However, after the sorrow in my heart started to fade, I began to think of all the details in the book which actually didn’t even feature on screen. This led me to think about various other film adaptations which leave the loyal, adoring audience nothing but disappointed and annoyed. We devote our hearts to these worlds and characters, and more often than not we are met in the film version by flimsy, unconvincing acting and lazy story-line cutting.

Yes, each Harry Potter film may have been 5 or 6 hours long if they hadn’t cut some of the detail out, but every time I sat in the cinema to enjoy the latest in the series, I was thwarted by the absence of Peeves the poltergeist and the lack of House Elf politics. Such details may have seemed expendable to those behind the movie creation, but to me they were as crucial as any other feature.

I find viewing the Harry Potter films rather awkward at times. Aside the well respected and talented array of actors, the audience is constantly reminded that the main characters are in fact children, something that isn’t as noticeable in the book. The timeless aspect of reading is something that is rarely portrayed convincingly in film, which is perhaps why Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II was generally only given 4 stars. I’m sorry, but no amount of CGI or beautiful scenery is going to make Daniel Radcliff’s acting palatable.

One Day. A bland holiday read that kept me vaguely amused on my trip to Croatia in 2011. I enjoyed it enough, to the extent that I didn’t wish to throw it in the sea (a side effect of several of my chick-flick holiday reads). Nevertheless, as is the fate with every book of the moment, it was to be made into a film featuring a drippy male lead with exactly zero charisma. Not to mention the endless disaster that is Anne Hathaway. Don’t even get me started on her attempt at a Yorkshire accent.

The film rendition of One Day received countless slating reviews, so I won’t jump on the bandwagon. I will just say that it added to the long list of “it” books that end up on the big screen to fill the viewers with rage.

Is it a good idea to turn our favourite books into films? Some would argue yes, to spread knowledge of the stories further than it would go initially. However, those originally devoted to the books can often see no advantages in the film adaptation, and regularly argue that perhaps it was a mistake to make one at all.

From the complete other side of the argument, are there truly terrible books that have been made into films that the audience has actually enjoyed? Yes. Has anybody ever tried to read Conrad’s Heart of Darkness? My A-Level English class was forced to, and my God was it an ordeal. Apocalypse Now, the film version, was however very well received and is vastly considered a timeless classic. (It also received 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, which many deem to be the be all and end all of film criticism.)

Lord of The Rings was incredibly well received. I can’t say I was one of the fanatics, and to be honest I find sitting through the trilogy quite tiresome, but there are millions of supporters out there. I doubt the amount of people who have gotten the whole way through the books is quite so high!

Whether film adaptations are moral or not is something that has to be down to personal opinion. Some things are made for cinema, and some are not. Who is to say which is which? The bad reviews will come in their hundreds if the population disagree with the creation, and that is a risk film makers will have to continue to take.

1 Comment
  • Jane

    I really liked this article, because it is so true on that some books should not become films. But like you say some films draw you to the book, which is always a good thing in a way!

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