Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Caitlin Considers: Book to Movie adaptations

Hello gorgeous readers, welcome to another instalment of Caitlin Considers, my fortnightly discussion post!

Today, I'm talking about book to film adaptations. I've been thinking about this for a while, but this post was kickstarted by both the release of The Hunger Games and a post Amber from Down the Rabbit Hole did last week.

I have a love/hate relationship with movie adaptations. I always get the anticipation, the excitement, the constant speculation about how certain scenes will play out/what will be left in, taken out, changed....and then I'm usually disappointed. Why? Well, mostly because a film can never look how you imagined it.  And whilst, intellectually, I KNOW that, I still can't help but feel that crushing disappointment, the anger, the frustration when it just isn't right. Reading is such a personal experience that everyone will interpret a story differently, so an adaptation can never possibly satisfy every reader.

Most people bring to mind the Harry Potter franchise when they think of book to films, which is understandable really. Everyone has such love for these stories, and therefore such strong opinions about the films. I really have to take the books and films as completely separate entities otherwise I DO get very annoyed. Mostly because I feel they really cocked up on some pretty damn important elements (see my post here for more details). 

And that's the issue for me with book to film adaptations I think. It's  when they change something fundamental, something I don't think can be put down to just the translation from one medium to another. The best example I can think of is Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. Me and my boyfriend both love the books (one of the few books we have in common actually) and were both insanely excited for, then insanely disappointed in, the film. So much was changed, and changed so thoughtlessly, but what really got us was Annabeth. In the book Annabeth  was a strong, independent character. She really gave Percy a run for his money and was very opinionated. Yet they turned her into some weak, submissive piece of eye candy in the film. It really irritated me that they took what was a great role model and 'hollywood-ised' her. 

The Hunger Games however....I loved it. I came out only  thinking about the positives and it wasn't until the emotional connection wore off that I could look at it rationally and see the minor faults...which is very unsual for me. It was so sensitively adapted; everyone was cast well and the detail that went into it was phenomenal. Jennifer Lawrence was a fantastic Katniss, I loved how they got round the fact we didn't have her insight in such creative ways. Yes, it wasn't perfect and yes, they did miss stuff out but that's going to happen unless you can make a 7 hour film. My only major issues were that they COULD have made it 15 minutes longer and given it a slightly less-rushed ending, the Haymitch/Katniss relationship (too easy) and the Peeta/Katniss relationship,  but the latter two points were, I think, changed for commercial reasons. I don't think they wanted to make it too obvious how Katniss really feels for Peeta or how Haymitch actually acts for fear of too many people responding negatively. But also, these were complex relationships that you saw from a very one-sided perspective so in widening that perspective out they would appear differently.

Are you a fan of book to film adaptations? If so, what are some of your favourites? If you've seen The Hunger Games, what did you think of it? Are you like me and NEVER happy with an adaptation? Sound off in the comments!


  1. I LOVE the Hunger Games adaptation, I think it was very close to the book. I think the worst one by far was Percy Jackson, I also love this series and I was extremely disappointed. Another adaptation that I didn't like was The Spiderwick Chronicles.

    Harry Potter is another category and I love both the movies and the books. The fist Twilight movie was also quite bad, but thankfully they improved.

    A rare occurrence for me was the I Am Number Four movie since I liked it better than the book!

  2. I think the HP adaptations are amazing and really do justice to the books. I actually saw the movies around the same time as I read the books though, so I suppose I always imagined the character looking like Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson etc.]

    A movie that really annoyed me was Cirque De Freak by Darren Shan. They ruined one of my favorite books. I remember saying to my sister after seeing it 'The only things the same as the book are that they're vampires, and the characters names' which is so true!

    I haven't seen and have only read half of The Hunger Games (didn't like it) but am excited to see it, and perhaps try re-reading it again!

  3. I didn't really like The Hunger Games adaptation. I know it's got awesome reviews and I seem to be the only person in the world, but I really didn't like the way some things played out and I felt they changed some key parts.

  4. Books-to-film are so difficult to get right, and here's the thing: I don't think you could ever please everyone, even with the most amazing movie from a book. Someone is always going to be cast wrong, ie. how this person saw him/her but not how the next person has. They're always going to have to leave parts out due to time constraints.

    If the film tries to stay very true to the book, I'm usually going to enjoy the film; that said, there have been some that didn't, or did but just didn't capture the awesome-ness of the book, and I had quibbles with the movie. I think since we loved said book SO MUCH we all (even if we try not to, or at least I do this) go into the movie with high expectations.

    Personally although I had a few issues with THG (where are Peeta's gorgeous blue eyes?), I think a lot of what was done was done to explain to people who haven't read the book what is going on, and draw in those viewers. I did VERY much so enjoy THG and in fact, I would consider it one of the most loyal and successfully authentic book-to-film transitions.

    I especially loved Gale, Prim, and Effie. I thought they were all just spot-on, as well as Katniss and Peeta, of course. I also wish the cave scene would have been a bit more involved. To me it almost felt like Katniss and Peeta went from 0 - 60 too quickly, while in the book, we HAD more time with them and fell for them.

    Although, I'm still a Gale/Katniss girl at heart. :)

  5. I haven't seen The Hunger Games movie yet, so I can't weigh in there but I do have a rule with book to movies. If you care. ;)

    I like to see the movie first, if at all possible. Then I don't know what's been changed or missing and don't realize how rushed it is. I can then enjoy it and usually do. When I read the book after seeing a movie I end up loving it too. However, if I read the book first I NEVER like the movie. :(

    I actually did a post ages ago on what movies I like better than the books they were based on if you care to check it out. ;)

  6. Great post! I do agree with how movie adaptions are never as good. I was very pleased with The Hunger Games though. It's hard to go from book to movie and keep the to the book perfectly. Also when turning books into movies they want to appeal to a wider range of people, not just the ones who have read the book. It's hard sometimes to do that I think. I know that my hubs was a bit confused about some things since he didn't read the book, but he said he liked it. I think it was one of the best book to films I have seen. There are minor things I didn't like, but I really loved the movie.

  7. Every time I came out of the theatre after watching a HP movie, I would grumble over the things they changed. And then every time a new trailer for the next movie came out, I would squeal with delight and watch repeatedly... and then grumble again when I came out of the theatre. I've definitely had to learn to treat them separately from the books - I don't think anything will ever compare with the words J.K has beautifully crafted.

    Although I WAS happy with DH2 - despite some deviations and a few minor things I could complain about, that is my favourite in the series.

    But anyway, The Hunger Games. Two words: HELL YES. I agree with everything you said about it. I think they did an amazing job translating it to screen and the casting was flawless. Every emotion that crossed Jennifer Lawrence's face, I believed it. And for an actress to draw me in the way she did... I can't speak highly enough of her. And I just love Jennifer as a person from what I've seen in interviews. She's REAL and natural and goofy and just downright awesome.

    The first half of the movie, for me, was absolute perfection. It's only while in the actual arena that I felt there were a few flaws and wished some things were expanded on further. But I would watch it a thousand times over. It's going to be the best damn movie franchies once all films are out <3

  8. I definitely agree that they could have spent more time developing relationships. Great post!


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