Sunday, November 23, 2008

Based on the Book

Well, I did it again. I set myself up for disappointment. I went to a movie based on a book I really .loved. There’s a reason my husband is reluctant to see a movie with me if it’s based on a book I’ve read. He says it’s too difficult to hear the movie over the grinding of my teeth.

The movie was Twilight, based on the book and series of the same name by Stephenie Meyer. Meyer has created one of the most intense, yet rather chaste love stories for young adults that I have ever read. Her story reaches right out from the pages and grabs the reader forcefully and doesn’t let go – even once you’ve reached the end. You can’t wait for the next book. Oh, and did I mention that it’s a vampire love story? Ann Rice and Bram Stroker – move aside.

Meyer has created the ultimate vampire: brooding and sensitive and a vegetarian to boot (only drinks animal blood – not human blood.) Sounds like it would make an excellent movie doesn’t it? Well, in theory it should. There’s a lot of discussion about the movie. Some have loved it. Some were not moved by it at all. Some are devastated at the way it departs from the book. I don’t want to get intoa long discussion about whether or not it was a good movie – at least not yet. I can’t trust my own judgment. I don’t know if I would have liked it if I had not read the book. (Of course, I probably wouldn’t have gone to see the movie if I had not read the book.) Maybe I would have had a different reaction if I was 25 years younger. Whatever my true reaction, I have to agree with one of the posters on one of my library listservs who summed it up pretty well when she said they did the best they could with a small budget and only two hours. I guess if they had included everything in the book and gave it all the treatment it deserved, then we’d have had to have an intermission like in Gone With the Wind –but today’s society doesn’t have time or patience to sit through a movie that long.

What I want to discuss today is whether or not bookworms should even bother watching a movie based on a book. Are we just setting ourselves up for disappointment? And why do we keep doing it? I know the movie is not likely to live up to the book, yet I find myself compelled to see the movie anyway.
I think I might have a handle on the problem. Teachers often tell their students to make mind movies when they are reading or listening to a book. One person’s mind movie is not the same as another’s. The relationship between an author, the book and the reader is an intimate one. On that is not always easy to share with others. Each reader has a different relationship with the book. When that relationship has been a satisfying one, we want it to continue. A movie is just another way for that to happen.

Sometimes, I think Hollywood should just leave books alone. They should just suck it up and come up with their own ideas. However, if they followed that rule, there are some great movies we would have missed. Sometimes the differences between the movie and the book are not bothersome (i.e. the Harry Potter Movies, Gone With The Wind, and Because of Winn Dixie to name a few). At other times, the movie is better than the book. (i.e. The Wizard of Oz and The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood.)

Here are few book based movies that I really enjoyed:
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Wizard of Oz
How The Grinch Stole Christmas (the original animated version)
Because of Winn Dixie
The Notebook
Gone With The Wind
The Fellowship of the Ring series
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Ten Little Indians (based on a book by Agatha Christie)
The DaVinci Code
The Polar Express

And here are few book based movies that made me want to throw my popcorn at the screen:

A Series of Unfortunate Events
The Spiderwick Chronicles
Bridge to Terabithia
The Other Boleyn Girl
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the Johnny Depp version)
Freaky Friday
Primary Colors
A Time To Kill
The Chamber
Interview with a Vampire

As much as I would like to spare myself the disappointment, I know that if I enjoy the book, I’m going to go see the movie. I guess I’m willing to take the chance that it will be one of those that either lives up to the book or is good in its own right.

Now, should you go see Twilight? Sure --- but only if you do not plan on reading any of the books. Otherwise, go get the book and create a mind movie.

So what are you reading or watching these days? Let me know.

1 comment:

20 Something Chick said...

Love the blog!!! My hands down all time favorite movie based on a book is the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, loved it. I also really enjoyed the Notebook. I just finished The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and now I'm wanting to torture myself yet again and see what the did in the movie. I'll let you know how it goes :)