It’s astonishing just how many films are based on books. When you research it the list never seems to end, with movie after movie takes its story from a novel. I love to find a book that has been projected onto the big screen. One of my favourite series on television, Grimm, is one that bases a lot of its stories on fairy tales. Taking a story from the page to the screen can work wonders for a plotline, helping it go further than it might have if it had just remained within the pages of a book. Look at the success of Game of Thrones. As a book series, it’s incredible – truly astounding. But the sheer magnitude of it is something that would probably put a lot of people off reading it. The fantasy epic can be a bit of a challenge to take on if you’re not into reading, and while the show mightn’t have the same level of intensity and brilliance as the books, it is a brilliant portrayal of them.
Sometimes, the film version works just as well as the book itself, if not better at times. John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas was perhaps even more disturbing and tragic on the big screen than it was on the page. I’ll never forget the eerie silence that fell over the theatre as the credits started to roll, the waves of shock rolling over everyone watching. On paper and on screen it’s one of the most powerful stories you could read, with an important lesson. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is another example of a book that was brilliantly converted into a movie version. I’m always a little bit wary as a reader going to watch the film adaption of books I love, but Baz Luhrmann’s depiction of the classic was brilliant. It was equally as captivating.
I think putting a book on to the screen can really benefit the story at times, and help it reach out to an entirely new audience. Period dramas have always been something that worked well as a television series or film; they’re adaptions that always seem to enjoy success. Stories like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights are firm favourites of mine, and I’ve personally never had a problem with a more old-fashioned writing style. But some people don’t enjoy it. Making classic novels into a TV series or film can work wonders for them. It encourages more people to experience the story, and can ensure that the book doesn’t become forgotten over time.
Unfortunately, sometimes it just doesn’t work out. There are books that should have been left alone, as books. Their film adaption is nothing short of embarrassing. I’m thinking in particular of Eragon and the Twilight series. I loved Christopher Paolini’s young adult fantasy series, and I did enjoy Stephanie Meyer’s phenomenon when I read it. But the movie versions of them were awful. They lacked any of the excitement that the books had, and were painful to watch at times. When you watch any of the Twilight films it is easy to understand why so many people ridicule the series. But trust me when I say the books are much better than the films.
Of course, there are times when I am wary about the release of a film based on a book. If it’s a book I really love, then I can get worried that they will ruin it. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief is my favourite book, one that I’ve read countless times and recommend over and over again. I was filled with equal feelings of excitement and dread when I found out that it was being made into a movie. I couldn’t wait to watch it, but I will admit that I was anxious to see how loyal they remained to the book. It was a good adaption, but I think because I had loved the book for so long it never would have been good enough.
It was the same for Harry Potter – I’ve always had mixed feelings about the film versions of my favourite series. I’ve watched them time and time again; Harry Potter marathons are one of my favourite ways to spend my weekend. At times they were better in ways than their paper counterpart, and on other occasions I hated watching what they had done to it. I think it depended on the director for me, how they interpreted the series. I was never a fan of how they portrayed The Goblet of Fire. It was the first Harry Potter book I read, so I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for it. The portrayal of it on the big screen disappointed me quite a bit; it felt rushed, and lacked character in a way. On the flipside, I loved the depictions of The Half-Blood Prince and The Deathly Hallows. They captured the darkness and intensity of the books, and were in my opinion the best films of the series.
Putting a book onto the screen can be a massive gamble. Successful adaptions can work wonders for a story. It widens the audience, and brings more attention to a talented author. But if they’re poorly represented, it can have a detrimental effect on the book. I guess it just depends, and what I thought was a good adaption, others might say it was a disgrace. Netflix marathons are one of the best ways to spend your free time in my opinion. But as a bookworm, I will always prefer to lose myself in a book. Books are just better.