Obviously, I am a huge book reader. I am also a huge movie fan. In fact, you can read some of my movie reviews here, here, and here. So, why are there so few good movies that come from books? There are some that have done a pretty decent job or at least did not manipulate the story to become unrecognizable: Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, and The Princess Bride. The absolute best movie adaptation I have seen is To Kill a Mockingbird. Maybe Gregory Peck had something to do with that… In any case, if you have not read the book or seen the movie, I highly recommend both. But, for the most part, when most people hear of their favorite book becoming a movie their response is: “Oh no! I hope they don’t ruin it!”
For a time, we could use the excuse that screenwriters and directors had to be able to fit everything into a 1 to 1.5 hour timeslot. But now, that’s not true. Movies are becoming longer and longer…most 2.5 to 3 hours. And, in fact, some producers make more than one movie out of one book (i.e. The Hobbit movies)! So, why do directors and/or screenwriters feel the need to add or remove characters and even add or remove plot elements?
This is a topic of endless frustration for me. It just seems that with all of our great technology and plethora of great actors, someone should be able to make a movie which won’t make book fans pick up their torches and pitchforks. For example, many people were upset (myself included) over the changes in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Hobbit. Who is that strange Orc anyway? And umm… why did Legolas show up with Kate from Lost? That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the movie. But must there always be a superfluous shallow romance to keep us entertained? Or do we always need multiple villains to keep the action coming?
I’m asking, because I really do not have a good answer. Maybe it’s a Hollywood conspiracy aimed at dulling our minds so we’ll be desensitized to violence and pornography, and we won’t flee to the comfort of a good book. It really does not make sense to me. If you are given a popular book, you know that fans will come to watch its movie adaptation, so why change it? We can film basically any stunt, battle, person, place or thing these days. So, I’m tired of the ‘It would have been too difficult to film’ excuse.
I’m interested to hear your opinion on book to film adaptation. What are your complaints? Likes or dislikes? Should it even be done? Also, does anyone have good book to film recommendations? And maybe we might have some young film makers read this who will take note.