Book to Movie Adaptations: The Pros and Cons

A&E, 830, books into movies, Annalee Glatus, Picture Credit- Tim Sackton

Courtesy of Tim Sackton

Annalee Glatus
Staff Writer

Sitting in a movie theater seat, waiting in anticipation for one of the best books in the world to be put on the big screen can usually go one of two ways: good or bad. Putting books on a screen has always been a thing, but nowadays it seems to be a lot more popular. With it comes a lot of controversy within literary circles who think movies are not up to par when adapted to a movie format. After reading a book and then watching it at the movie theater, it feels like a rewarding experience when you do not want to throw popcorn at the screen.  

Perhaps one of the most popular and controversial book-to-movie adaptations is “Twilight.” This classic young adult saga was loved by many teenage girls and, let us admit it, many adults. The filmmakers were up against some pretty hard odds with this one, but the main consensus is that they failed to accurately portray characters, making it seem more like a parody than a serious movie. What makes people state accusations or praises toward the films of beloved books? Why does it seem like people are never satisfied with book-to-movie adaptations?  

First off, the audience expects the film to follow the details of the book. In “Twilight,” the book says that Edward’s Volvo is silver, yet in the movies the Volvo is black. If the producers, writers and director walk into the writer’s room and they cannot even keep the details of the movie accurate, such as the color of the car or even hair color of the main characters, at that point, why even bother with the movie? How can you trust someone to accurately follow the plot when they cannot even follow a minute detail?

Producers know that people will go to a film based on a popular book, so they decide to make the film whether they have the best intentions on making it accurate. That is one of many issues when it comes to making adaptations — it is all about making a large profit from readers and nonreaders. You can tell when a movie is just made to get a large audience on the opening weekend. For instance, “Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief” was an epically popular book, and yet the movie was below even the lowest of expectations.

Since books and movies are two different mediums of art, they probably should not be mingled. The Carolinian has an Arts and Entertainment section, meaning these two art forms are separate. Of course they are both under the general umbrella of art, but in the same way that painting a picture is different than writing a sentence, a film is different than literature. In the simplest terms, some books are better left as books. Unfortunately, that does not mean they will be.     

Not all book-to-movie adaptations are thrown in the dumpster though. There are the exceptions to “the book was better” accusations, such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which got raving reviews from fans. The Harry Potter series, although flawed in some areas, has a fantastic reputation. What makes these movie adaptations so well received is the accurate use of details, characters and plot.

There seems to be more of an effort these days to give books the adaptation they deserve. The new trend of putting book series into TV series instead of movies seems to be beneficial. The show “Game of Thrones,” based on the popular book series, is hugely popular mostly because of its accurate portrayal of the books. In addition, the author is an executive producer of the show and is heavily involved in its production. “The Mortal Instruments” was previously made into a movie that was less than desirable, but is now making a comeback as a TV show.

What it comes down to is effort. The main downfall of making books into film is the lack of effort; in the same way, a major success is the use of effort. A lot of books are very in-depth and complex, and require some sweat to be produced in order to do a movie adaptation justice. Unfortunately, one cannot force filmmakers to use the proper effort in making accurate representations, but seeing a great book-to-film adaptation almost makes the bad ones worth it. Almost.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Reviews


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