Thursday, March 3, 2011

Book vs. Movie - Confessions of An Adapation Snob

So my family and I went to see I Am Number Four recently. We enjoyed it. And, as I tend to do, much to my husband's dismay, I spent the entire car ride home comparing the book to the movie. (Hey, I've gotten better. At least I don't do this DURING the movie anymore. During the fourth Harry Potter movie, I kept leaning over and whispering to him what was different) :D We were at home though, so it isn't quite as bad as it sounds :D

Now, as adaptations go, I Am Number Four was pretty good. Stayed close to the book and the differences were understandable and not so far beyond the book that they were in another realm entirely. So all in all, I left having enjoyed the movie more than being irritated by its differences from the book.

I should probably explain that I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to movie adaptations. I tend to love the books so much that I just really hate when the movie versions stray too far. Like the HBO series True Blood. The Sookie Stackhouse books are among my favorites so I was a bit sad (and annoyed) when the cable series not only strayed but took a sky dive from the books' plotlines. Now, I do actually like the series, for the most part, usually, (mostly because of Alexander Skaarsgard if I'm going to be honest) :D but man, some of the storylines they throw in there are just stroke inducing for me.

I also hesitate to watch historical movies that are based on real life events or people for the same reason. I tried to watch The Tudors but the historical inaccuracies bugged me so much I just couldn't get into it. I love period films, but if they are based on real events, they gotta be accurate or I start to twitch :) And I start to announce to everyone (in a considerately quiet voice, or after the movie if I'm being really good) that what they just saw isn't what really happened. Hey, one of my degrees is in History....I have issues about that kind of thing :)

After we saw I Am Number Four, I thought of other book-to-movie adaptations I enjoyed. The Twilight series (though there are definitely aspects of the films I don't like); The Firm and The Client (John Grisham books turned movies) - these were probably the first book adaptations I'd ever seen that stayed really close to the book; movies based on the classics like Jane Eyre and Emma; Ella Enchanted (I actually saw the movie first on this one and read the book second...and sort of liked the movie better :) ; and the Harry Potter films - there are of course many things that get left out of the films and the books are sooo much better, but over all the movies are pretty great.

So, all this got me wondering if I am the only adaptation snob out there. Can you enjoy a movie for itself and disregard the book it is supposed to be bringing to life? Or do you want the movie to stay as close to the book as possible?


L. Diane Wolfe said...

I don't mind small changes if the movie captures the essence of the book. The LOTR trilogy is probably the best adaptation ever, and while Jackson changed a few things, he kept the spirit of the book and made it better.

B.E. Sanderson said...

I find that if I watch the movie first and then read the book, I have an easier time. I loved Jurassic Park, so I read the book. If I'd read the book first, I would've spent the whole movie pointing out flaws instead of just enjoying it. The same with Patriot Games and The Firm. Don't even get me started on Last of the Mohicans - which I read and then watched the Daniel Day Lewis movie version. I think my daughter's still annoyed with me over that one. I just couldn't stop making comparison comments.

Matthew MacNish said...

I actually read some of the Sookie Stackhouse novels (three, I think) and this is one of the few examples where I think the adaptation is actually better than the book. It may be a gender thing, but I thought the plot jumped around so much in the books, and in the show, they brought it together a little bit more, though of course it's still pretty damn crazy.

Usually I'm pretty anal about wanting things to stay as close as possible though.

Shari said...

I like the movie to stay close to the book, but it only really matters to me if I've read the book. I usually won't read the book after the movie, anyway. I actually have a bookmark that says, "Never judge a book by its movie."

Jessica L. Brooks (coffeelvnmom) said...

I like the movie to stay as close to the book as possible... but as long as it's entertaining I eventually get over the changes. Reminds me of when Lovemuffin and I watched Dear John. I kept saying things like "What? That person was not that person in the book!" And after a while, he kindly asked me to shut up. =)

M Pax said...

I loved the Tudors despite the inaccuracies. I just watch to see if I'm entertained or not.

I'm more apt to judge whether the story hangs together or not these days - my writer self editing everything.