September 5, 2008

Adaptations

Friends,

I just watched the film version of Nobody's Fool. Obviously cuts were made to get the massive, expansive novel down to two hours worth of story. There were cuts and changes I disagreed with, particularly changes in characters, like Toby Roebuck being actively smitten with Sully, which is not the case in the book. She sees him as good sport, and he's the one harboring a crush that can't be requited. Anyway, I don't want pick nits here too much, but I have questions for you all.

The whole time I watched Nobody's Fool, I kept thinking, "Oh, that's not right" or "They got that wrong" and so on. Essentially, my problem was I couldn't not divorce myself from the novel version of the story and the film version of the story. Same thing happened with Into the Wild for me because I just couldn't let go what was in the book versus what I was seeing on the screen.

Do you have that same problem? And are their film adaptations of books you've read (and enjoyed) take liberties with the source material that you don't mind, where you aren't stuck sitting in your seat going, "Oh, no, that's not how it should be?"

viva el mustache

7 comments:

Nathan Melcher said...

Given the rumblings I hear from Harry Potter readers about the films and how many fanboys griped about the omitting of Tom Bombadil from the film version of "The Fellowship of the Ring," I'm likely in the minority, but...

A book is a book and a film is a film. Two different storytelling mediums. Making one morph into the other will always be an exercise in adaptation rather than straight translation. What works well for the written page does not always work well for a film and vice versa, one can even see this in changes made from shooting script to a film's final edit.

I love the book and the film version of Jaws but for completely different reasons. The ending of the book, for example, is great; it plays on classic literary themes (think Moby Dick connotations) and feels a lot more true to life than the ending of the film. On the other hand, the book has a less than cinematic ending, and given reports of the first 1975 audiences standing and cheering at the finale of the film, something tells me the changes Spielberg and Gottlieb made worked.

Melissa said...

What I really hate are those people who have the nerve to mess with Shakespeare. Ya know? ;-)

Diana said...

I like what Nathan says about it. I happen to love both the book and the film Nobody's Fool, but in different ways and for different reasons.

Bryan said...

Nathan, you're right about film being film and books being books. And I know I'm wrong for feeling that way where I just can't fully let go of the books, if I happen to have read them first. You mentioned LOTR, and Tom Bombadil and the stuff about the Barrow wights (or however it's spelled) not being in there, that didn't bother me, but when the elves showed up at Helms Deep and Treebeard didn't want to fight Sauraman at first, those really aggravated me. So I'm not anti-making changes to get it from one medium to the other, maybe it's just changes that I don't think help the story, maybe. I don't know. But, I should still let the movie be the movie by itself without making unnecessary, and unfair, comparisons.

Diana, I liked Nobody's Fool the movie, but I loved the book. And I wonder if it's because the novel was sitting on my shoulder, reminding of every so often about stuff that was "wrong." And it's not even a matter of wrong, just different. And, again, not all the changes were bad, like excising the waitress Sully was having an affair with, that was okay by me, I didn't miss it, but as soon as Toby Roebuck showed up with those plan tickets to Hawaii, that bugged me.

Melissa...yeah, who would ever dare to do such a thing. But, I think a creative retelling, changing perspective, is different. Like, say, if someone where making Romeo and Juliet, and you go in there and suddenly, there's no Mercutio, you'd be like, What the fuck? But, if it was something called "Tybalt's Trials" or "As The Capulets Turn" well, then no Mercutio wouldn't be so bad.

Jorge said...

I just wait until the movie comes out first. Then, if I like the movie ok, I'll read the book because I know I'll love the book. Even if I kind of didn't like the movie, I'll at least like the book.
Trickery of one's self is the best way to get through life, I've learned.

Mr. Flynn said...

My favorite film adaptation is Everything is Illuminated. It captures the tone of the book but is completely different. They're both brilliant.

Bronson said...

I agree here with Nate, however, I have a hard time with this sometimes. I just can't help it. If I really like a book, I want the movie adaptation to be just as good. My example would be Cider House Rules. I really got into the book, but I loathed the movie. I remember being really upset after seeing the movie. But that was years ago, and my attitude on this topic has changed.