Wednesday, October 21, 2009

from book to film: adaptations

People often ask me when the movie version of Faking It will be released. Some are joking, while others are dead serious. I confess that there's a rough draft of a screenplay (very rough) sitting in a drawer in my apartment. It was the first collaboration between my writing partner and me, almost four years ago (four years? geez, how the hell did that happen?). In addition to my aspirations of getting an agent and reaching a wider audience with my novels, having my books turned into films would be pretty neat.

My fear, however (and yes, I do think of these things) would be that it wouldn't be done well. That the characters would be miscast, or the jokes would be delivered poorly, or that they'd film in Wilmington and pass it off as Long Island to save money (take that, Dawson's Creek!). I wonder what novelists think of film interpretations of their work? What did Stephen King think of Carrie, or The Green Mile, or Shawshank Redemption (which was actually a short story), or any of his other novels-turned-movies? What did Jennifer Weiner think of In her Shoes?

Then there's the issue of preference. My experience is that whichever you encounter first is the one you prefer. I much prefer the movie version of Chocolat to the book (which I read years after seeing the film, one of my favorites), and not just because Johnny Depp was much sweeter to look at than the novel description of Roux. I preferred Redford's The Natural. And it was the film All the President's Men that sparked my ongoing fascination with Watergate.

The Social Network is based on the book The Accidental Billionaires. Apollo 13 was based on Jim Lovell's book Lost Moon. I enjoyed the former to the later in the second example, and chances are that even if I read The Accidental Billionaires first, I'll still enjoy the film more.

Didn't care for the Harry Potter films as much as the books (and I refused to see them until I read the books). Haven't even seen Twilight. No desire to see Lord of the Rings. Prefer Bridget Jones books to the films (although how can you not fall in love with Colin Firth?)

So, here's my question (more than one, actually): What are your favorite film adaptations of books? Are there any film adaptations that completely ruined the book experience for you? Are there any you would refuse to see? Are there any films that you prefer to the book? Which did you see first? Are there any favorite books that you would love to see made into a film or even a tv series? If so, why? And who would you want to see cast in those films? Are there any films you would love to see made into novels (for example, would I love When Harry Met Sally as a novel)?


Rob said...

The biggest disappointment was the film adaptation of I am Legend. I did more than read that book, I devoured it. It felt so gritty, so real. A one-man standoff between a normal guy and a supposed world of vampires. Plus, this guy was smart, resourceful and he was always careful. The movie was just a slap in the face for me. Will Smith's portrayal of Robert Neville had me thinking that this guy would never survive seven years in a vampire world. Also, the villains became zombie/vampire hybrids. Almost none of the plot came from the book. Like they threw the entire book out and went off the seat of their pants.

Well, enough of my ranting. I'd like to see Faking it, the movie. I'd also love to see Magic Man be made into a movie. That was a rare gem of a book. You have to pick that one up.

Elisa said...

I don't think I know Magic Man -- will look it up. My twin brother has similar gripes as you regarding *I Am Legend*, Rob. Such a shame.

Elspeth Antonelli said...

I loved Emma Thompson's adaptation of "Sense and Sensibility" and honestly, I preferred the film of "Silence of the Lambs" to the book. Much more terrifying to have it happening before your eyes; not to mention the brilliance of Anthony Hopkins' performance. As for the Harry Potters, those books are so big that that poor screenwriter had to cut stuff. I've read his criteria was "Is Harry involved?" If he was, the plot stayed...and Ms. Rowling was there to advise and to warn. I tend to stay away from movie adaptations of books I adored mainly because I know the movie will never be the same as the pictures in my head.


Heavenly Muse said...

as i couldn't get anything from epic in written form

Elisa said...

Thansk for your comment, Muse!

Beowolf always scared the crap out of me...