I read an amazing book last month. It was Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.
I had watched the movie when it came out back in the spring. I had hoped to read it before I saw the movie but the wait list for the library was too long.
I have to say, it was overall, a great adaption. The writers kept the same feel of the book, the majority of the scenes from the book, and the characters were pretty much unchanged. Now of course there was some differences but it nothing was changed in a way that drastically different from the book.
As a person who is writing a novel, I dream of the day when my book would be turned into a movie or TV show. How much would I willing to sacrifice, what would I fight to keep?
Let’s talk mediums now.
A book and a movie are totally different things. You have much more time in a book, room for much greater detail but, you are a slave to the reader’s attention span and imagination. In a movie, you have very limited time, but you have the power of visuals. You do all the work for the watcher. No need for them to imagine what you described, it’s all laid out for the viewer in a visual sense. A transition from book to movie or movie to book can never be equal. They can NEVER match. You’re talking vampires and bunnies here people. Two totally different things that evoke different senses and feelings.
So this begs the question, why do people get so mad when the transition occurs not as they hoped?
First, let’s go book chicken. I’ll be honest, I don’t have a lot of experience of reading a book before it’s turned into a movie or TV series. I usually read the book after the series or movie comes out. But here’s what I’ve gathered from people. When people read the book first, they develop ideas of how scenes look, how characters interact, etc. This is their world with this story. So when a movie version doesn’t quite match their vision, it’s a letdown. Sometimes whole characters have been nixed, I can see how this would make some heads implode. But this all goes back to the medium difference. In water for elephants, one of the major characters was blended with the second major character. I actually agreed with this decision. The two main characters were almost the same person. For time purposes, it made sense. But like I said earlier, I read the book after the movie. Was I already tainted by the movie?
Now let’s go movie egg. One thing already sticks in my mind. One, I saw Bladerunner for the first time this year. It was an amazing life altering movie. Then I heard about a graphic novel based on the book. A word for word adaption. I jumped at it. I love comic books and graphic novels. Could I have the best of both worlds? Could I have my cake and eat it too? No I could not.
It took me forever to read the damn graphic novel. The art was top notch, but it was the words. The words slowed everything down. Phillip K Dick’s excellent world building didn’t work with an artist’s drawing. It was too much spice in the soup. Dick’s words were the visual so paired with even more visuals was overwhelming and repetitive. I eventually gave up and just read the novel instead. I’ll admit, it was an easier read after having seen the movie. I already had visuals to go with the prose. And of course, there were some differences from the movie. But it wasn’t mind imploding. Again, a lot of differences were medium needed. But it made me sad, I would have never read this novel without seeing Bladerunner first. So to me at least, some of my reads are movie movie egg.
In the end I came to this conclusion. Yes, the movie or TV series isn’t an exact copy of the book. But let the book or movie be a different version. An Alternate take. Your own vision will always be your own, no one else’s. It your secret alone. Hollywood can never take that from you. Besides, isn’t your own imagination the best vision of them all?
What are your thoughts on book chicken or movie egg?