When Books Become Movies

Some people love them, some people hate them.  Either way, I think most would agree it's a fine line between capturing the essence of a novel and completely butchering a literary treasure.

What makes the good ones good and the bad ones awful?

How do you capture the development of a story in a two-hour (give or take) film?

I think back to personal favorite and failures.  I loved reading Anna Karenina, but on an especially dreary afternoon a few weeks back I made it through approximately seven minutes of a film version on Netflix before watching another episode of 30 Rock instead.  On the other hand, I would rather watch Anne of Green Gables back to back to back before trying to read one of those books...again.  Of course, some fall in the middle and manage to tell an enjoyable story both through film and paper, the Lord of the Rings trilogy instantly comes to mind.

What's the key to getting it right?
New Zealand backdrop?

I think the secret is in the details.  It's been my literary experience that true development, character and plot-wise, all happens in the details.  These details make-up the essence of a story, filling the pages in between the sudden plot twists and climax(s).  These details are usually when you find yourself becoming attached to characters and invested in the story.  For myself, seeing a loss of these details from a book to movie translation always hurts a little, and I feel cheated of the experience I had reading the book.

My most anticipated movie of the summer?  The Help.  It's not just because I'm a female and happen to secretly love Civil Rights historical fiction, either.  Having finally read the book after planning to do so for months, I loved it and couldn't wait to see how the movie would adapt the novel.  Naturally, I thought it was perfect.  I loved the way the movie stayed true to the book, through the details.  The small conversations that happened on paper and somehow made it into the movie as well.  Even better, the way those details were abbreviated for the movie, and yet somehow also elaborated by being able to see them happen.

All in all, it was a great book and a great movie, and I was reminded that sometimes film adaptations are just another way to live out a great story, even after you've finished the last page.

Which book-turned-movies are your favorites?  And which do you wish had never been made...let alone found their way into your DVD player?

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  1. I don't think this gives a lot of information.

    1. What do you mean?!? Of course it has a lot of information. I have read it over and over and I like it a bunch.