Movie Adaptations

    Lots of stories from books, musicals, and the like are often adapted into movies. Sometimes, they come out better than what was expected of them. But oftentimes, they don’t translate very well into film. It’s unusual that even with a core concept and story, movie adaptations often end up being worse than the book.

    One reason for this is probably the detail lost when a book is made into a movie. If all the detail included in a book was stuffed into a movie, it would probably be boring and tedious to watch in one sitting. That’s why no one reads a book in less than three hours. So putting the entire world a book creates—or sometimes multiple books if it’s a series—into one movie without losing the interesting things about the world is difficult, to say the least. Take Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief for example. This book is the first in a very long set of series. There’s like ten books in the first two series alone. When it was adapted into a movie in 2010, it was received very badly. This was mainly because it seemed like a dumbed down version of the story in the book, with key elements missing, underused, and especially under explained. The characters seemed flat, like cardboard cutouts, and whole parts of the story were missing to make the movie short enough to be watchable.

This is probably why tv series do so much better when being adapted from books, like Game of Thrones, or the recently ended A Series of Unfortunate Events—in fact, A Series of Unfortunate Events actually had more information on the underlying mysteries of the books than the thirteen books in the series did. Because it had twenty five episodes, each about forty five minutes to an hour long, it had a lot more time to elaborate on characters and important story elements. Comparing that to the older A Series of Unfortunate Events movie, which, while it may have been a good movie on it’s own, was nothing compared to the books, since it only featured the first three books, and it was the barebones of that. It often happens that the movie may be good, but because the book came before it, it’s doesn’t live up to the expectations of those who read the book.

    One reason for this is probably the detail lost when a book is made into a movie. If all the detail included in a book was stuffed into a movie, it would probably be boring and tedious to watch in one sitting. That’s why no one reads a book in less than three hours. So putting the entire world a book creates—or sometimes multiple books if it’s a series—into one movie without losing the interesting things about the world is difficult, to say the least. Take Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief for example. This book is the first in a very long set of series. There’s like ten books in the first two series alone. When it was adapted into a movie in 2010, it was received very badly. This was mainly because it seemed like a dumbed down version of the story in the book, with key elements missing, underused, and especially under explained. The characters seemed flat, like cardboard cutouts, and whole parts of the story were missing to make the movie short enough to be watchable. This is probably why tv series do so much better when being adapted from books, like Game of Thrones, or the recently ended A Series of Unfortunate Events—in fact, A Series of Unfortunate Events actually had more information on the underlying mysteries of the books than the thirteen books in the series did. Because it had twenty five episodes, each about forty five minutes to an hour long, it had a lot more time to elaborate on characters and important story elements. Comparing that to the older A Series of Unfortunate Events movie, which, while it may have been a good movie on it’s own, was nothing compared to the books, since it only featured the first three books, and it was the barebones of that. It often happens that the movie may be good, but because the book came before it, it’s doesn’t live up to the expectations of those who read the book.

    The best way to adapt a book into a movie is to do something fresh and new with it. Otherwise it’s just telling the same story again, with less detail than the last time. There are a few books I’d personally love to see be adapted into a movie. For instance, one of my favorite books of all time, The Thickety. This book is a creepy, stunningly fascinating story. It would be interesting to see it imagined in a new way. In fact, there’s a trailer for the book that demonstrates what a movie might be like. Although, I think it would be better as an animated movie, akin to Coraline (which also happens to be a movie based on a book). You can get some pretty creepy things when you make a live action film, but when it’s animated there’s an uncanny feeling you can’t really get with live action. It’s exaggerated, and that makes it easier to create something more fascinating than what you’d find in the book. Even if I’ve read the book over and over again, I should still be impressed by the movie. A book shouldn’t be a script for a movie, it should be the core for something new.

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