Sunday, September 20, 2015

A book, a movie, a…completely different story?

Imagine having an idea.  Imagine putting that idea on paper.  Imagine others showing how much they love your idea by buying your books until eventually the dream of a lifetime comes true:  someone offers you big bucks to put your brilliant idea on the big screen.

It can be hard to envision, maybe because it is such a big dream.

The dream does come true for some authors, and quite often lately for the young adult writers.  And I say…all the power to them and anyone else who reaches this professional goal.

But then imagine having an idea, putting that idea on paper, feeling the love from all the readers who adore your story and buy your books and then, after the dream of having your book turned into a movie comes to life, the big screen version is quite different than your original story.

Does it bother the authors when movies don’t stick to their original story?  It may.  Does it bother the readers who love the books?  Yes, I believe it really does, most likely because they don’t want any changes to be made to a story or to characters they love so much.  And possibly because they believe their favorite author or story is being wronged in some way. 

This weekend I enjoyed a night out with my youngest son to go to the theater to watch The Scorch Trials, the second book of The Maze Runner series.  I read the series after I bought the books for my son to read (before it became a movie) and he finally talked me into reading them because he liked them so much.  I really enjoyed the books and, like my son, I looked forward to watching the series when The Maze Runner first hit theaters last year.

I really can’t recall how many big changes from book to movie were made with the first movie, but there were many differences between the book and movie with regard to The Scorch Trials.  Did it make the movie any less fun to watch?  No, actually, my son and I really enjoyed the movie – so much so that we went back to watch it a second time! 

So often the book is much better than the movie based on the book.  You’ve heard the phrase:  never judge a book by its movie?  But does it make the movie any less interesting or fun to watch?  Not necessarily, especially with the special effects movie producers have access to these days.  

Obviously, if readers don’t want to see a movie based on a book, they don’t have to.  If it’s not up to par, they can voice their opinion, but it doesn’t take away from what the author has accomplished by putting the story out there in the first place.

And actually, in keeping an open mind about what it takes to make a book into a movie, there’s something else to consider for those who are distressed when a movie is different from the book it’s based on.  Movies are just movies; they offer a few hours of entertainment and are based on the views of someone who uses the author’s original idea to provide a visual adaption of the story.  You can watch a movie that captures the story exactly as written and you may enjoy it or be disappointed with it because it’s not up to par but regardless, you’ll never be surprised by it.  Or, you can go to a movie with an expectation of what will happen from beginning to end, only to be surprised when the storyline takes a turn or two you hadn’t expected. 

While I don’t enjoy watching movies right after I’ve read the books, since I still feel deeply vested in the story and would be more prone to have issues with any changes made to the plot, I do enjoy movies the most when I don’t always know what to expect (except for those I enjoy watching over and over, such as The Lord of the Rings).  I don’t mind taking a chance on a book-based movie and I don’t mind when they surprise me.  I also know that if the movie really isn’t up to par based on a favorite novel, I can always read the book again.

And that’s the great thing about books and the imagination:  books are the stepping stones to the imagination and they’re always there when you need them.  

So keep calm, read on and have a great week!

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