Monday, October 27, 2014

“After all, tomorrow is another day."

 The title of this post is the last line  in both the book and the movie of Gone with The Wind. It is one of the truest adaptations of  book into movie form.

What is the trick to making an excellent movie from an outstanding book? Does it make any difference if the movie is true to the story? How do authors feel about their books being made into movies? What does it serve to duplicate a good book onto the movie screen except to make money?

A group of seven authors in New York debated these questions. Their feelings were divided into three camps:

(1)           I do not care what they (Hollywood) does with the movie if it remains true to the spirit of my book. 
(2)           I want it to be as true to my book as possible
(3)           I do not want a thing changed.

Numbers one and two are the only achievable answers to the question. Why? The author brings his one perspective to his book. A movie involves not only the perspective of a screenwriter but also the director, costume designers, editors, location settings and choice of actors. Multiple inputs are needed for a movie.

The author builds a sustainable image. He chooses his target audience and writes to them. A movie expands the book to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. The author has to work hard choosing words that show and not tell. The movie uses more effects visually showing emotions and actions in a much shorter period than is possible in books. A book can meander into its main plot whereas a movie must grab the attention of the viewer immediately so as not to be boring.

Each reader builds in his imagination what the characters look and sounds like, what the setting looks like in each scene and the pace of the book. The reader also goes through these same paces along with the plot pacing. He decides if he likes or dislikes, tolerates or abhors the characters. It may take him a long time to understand his conclusions. Movies make you immediately mentally vote on these things because it is has only two hours to present a much larger plot of a book. Dialog is more essential in both venues but more of it occurs in a movie because movies by nature demand action.

Some authors do not care what a filmmaker does to their books. They figure that the movie is two hours of free publicity for their book and/or other books they have written. The film can be made for a small audience or a blockbuster with name actors, lavish costuming and settings. Both try to make money. The studios can write off the smaller budgeted movie or movies that do not capture the audiences. Films can be made and seen by a test audience using various endings. Books do not have that luxury.

The risk in making a movie from a book is that the viewers go to a movie because they liked the book. Their expectations are built on what they individually visualized in their minds and what conclusions they came to at the end. We know what the ending should be. Maybe the movie is true to the book (Gone with The Wind is a prime example) or maybe the movie only has a passing acquaintance to the book.

Movies from books do have advantages to the public at large. Most adults read fewer than five books a year but discover that they like this story and seek more works by the author. Movies bring children back to reading. Movies can be a family affair watched together.

Books are a renewable source of stories for Hollywood. An actor may recommend a book but decline to star in it when he reads the final script. Good casting can make the book an even bigger hit; poor casting like Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher or Katherine Heigel as Stephanie Plum make a movie sink like a body in cement aimed into the Jersey River.

Here are some books being made into movies. I rarely see movies if I have read the book. The movie is never as good as the book (one exception is GWTW). Do you see the movies after reading the books? Which do you prefer?

Mockingjay  by Suzanne Collins
Gone Girl and  Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
The Switch by Elmore Leonard
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
A Walk in The Woods by Bill Bryson
Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin
Devil’s Knot by Mara Leveritt
The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks
The Giver by Lars Lowry

Read a follow post on October 29, 2014 for Dr. Seuss’ response published posthumously made regarding his books made into movies. It is delightful, shocking, and enlightening.

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