TCWT Blog Chain: Change and More Change

This month’s TCWT chain had the following prompt:

“What are your thoughts on book-to-movie adaptions? Would you one day want your book made into a movie, or probably not?”

Well. Books are hard to turn into movies. They’re two completely different mediums. Books can be as long or as short as you want (though there are guidelines for particular genres, they aren’t hard-set rules), while movies generally have to stay around an hour to two hours. (Unless it’s Lord of the Rings, of course.) In other words, when books are turned into movies, you have to figure out how to fit the entire story into just an hour and a half.

And because they’re so different—because books tell stories with words, while movies tell stories with images and sounds—sometimes it can be difficult to tell the same story exactly the same way.  Hence, things are changed.  I think those changes are important to make a good book-to-move adaption, but they have to be the right changes.  Some changes I’ve seen in movies just don’t make sense.

The Lightning Thief, for example.  A lot of things were different between the book and the movie.  Some things were big, like the fact that the actors were all around sixteen, while the characters in the book were twelve.  I’m not sure why that was done, maybe just because they wanted to use older actors.   It wasn’t really that big of a deal, though, right?  Did it screw up the story?  Eh.  Then there were changes like the fact that a lot of Riordan’s humor, which is part of what made the books so awesome, was strangely lacking in the movie.  And if it was there, it wasn’t really memorable, because I can only think of one joke from the movie, and it wasn’t even that good of one.

One of my favorite parts of the book was the scene where the camp bully, Clarisse, picks on Percy and tries to shove his head in the toilet.  Was that in the movie?  No.  And for good reason.  While it was good in the book, if it was in the movie, it would have slowed down the pace of the entire movie, and that wouldn’t have been very good.

There were other changes, like the fact that the book characters Clarisse and Annabeth were combined into one character in the movie.  I personally didn’t like that because it prevented Annabeth from fulfilling the expectations I had of her, after reading the books.  At the same time, I could see why it was done, because it might slow down the movie if there were too many characters to keep track of.

It’s hard, I think, to turn a book into a movie.  On one hand, as I’ve said, it’s hard (if not outright impossible) to turn a book into a good movie without changing anything.  Ender’s Game is proof of that.  Not a whole lot was changed out of the movie, as far as I can remember, but there was so much story, crammed into so little time, that it took away the emotion.  The book made me cry when I finished it (yes, it really did), but the movie just seemed kind of…flat.  My parents think the movie would have been better if they split it up into two parts—but then they’d have to add something to give a good climax for the first part, and what would that mean?  Change.

On the other hand, it’s hard to change anything and not have all of the fans freaking out.  How many people disliked Lightning Thief? Yet, if you look at it for it’s own, it’s not a bad movie, really.  I very strongly disliked the movie Howl’s Moving Castle because it changed so much from the book.  Some things were minor, but they probably annoyed me the most.  Calcifer was blue.  Was it that hard to make him blue?  And Sophie’s hair did not stay grey, it turned red again! Come on!  And what happened to Howl’s hair turning ginger? That scene was funny.  I’ll admit, I haven’t seen the movie in years, and I really only remember the things that annoyed me, so I can’t tell you if the movie was actually any good or not.

Anyway, I restate my point.  Change is important, but it has to serve a purpose.  Random changes done-just-because-it-can-be-done do not endear fans to the movie.

And to answer the last part of the question, I’d love to see my books turned into movies.  I’d be pretty nervous to see them, but I’m curious how other people would interpet my characters and how differently they’d see them than I do.

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8 thoughts on “TCWT Blog Chain: Change and More Change

  1. Good post. You’re right. Adapting a book into a movie necessitates some change, and while the fans might not like it, it’s still necessary. Some books, such as the Great Gatsby and obviously Ender’s Game, make amazingly emotional books but dead movies when adapted perfectly. Other books would make perfect movies if adapted exactly, yet they’re changed for the worse. It’s a fine line to walk.

    Good post!

  2. John Hansen

    I definitely agree with you. It’s really difficult to adapt a book into a movie for a number of reasons, but mostly because a lot of the beauty of books is in the internal dialogue. And secondly, movies are so much shorter than books are, so they have to really think hard about what to cut and what to keep, and a lot of times it messes with pacing. This is probably the pitfall of movies like Ender’s Game.

    And I think it’s really cool that you are open to the idea of adaption. I’d be terrified, but it’s exciting to see what other people would do with your book.

    Awesome post!

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