Books, Fancy, Movies/TV series, Writing

Adaptations: Every Reader’s Dream?

By Luke Parkes

It’s every reader’s dreams to see their favourite book on the big screen, but would it leave you disappointed?

The fact is the alterations made from novel to screen can be either a huge hit or an epic failure. It really depends on how filmmakers “translate” a full-length novel to the screen and how the reader responds to it. I will delve into the reasons behind changes and how readers can interpret the film adaptation as its own entity.

Tomorrow, When the War Began

Corrie says to Ellie in the film Tomorrow, When the War Began that her book is “better than the movie,” to which Ellie comments, “Yeah, books usually are.” I have to agree with Ellie there; books are usually better than the movie. Yet you’ll be surprised how many films are based on literature.

In the article Adaptation: From Novel to Film, it was estimated by John Harrington that if you include all the literary forms—such as novels, drama and short stories—the percentage of film adaptations might well be 65% (or possibly even more). It shows that most of the films are based on literature.

Most of the classic novels have been adapted to the screen at least more than once, such as Sherlock Holmes, which has over 200 adaptations. Some of the classic novels have been adapted to both a different time and setting, such as Cruel Intentions, an adaptation of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses, which is set among wealthy teenagers in modern New York. Filmmakers decide this so the film can be more appealing toward younger and older audiences, as well as for both sexes.

Many people in the world, including myself, rave about a favourite book being adapted into a TV series or movie. I am excitedly anticipating the film Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters (out February 14, 2014), which is based on the first book in the six-part series by Richelle Mead. If the author says the movie looks great, then it’s going to be great, right?

Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters

However, many other people fear that screen adaptations won’t do the book justice. All the omitted scenes, characters, dialogue, backstories and other details are the most troubling aspects in adapting from novel to screen. Changes, though, are made for several reasons. In the case of adapting a novel, the filmmakers have to cut scenes, characters, dialogue, backstories and other details to make a two hour long movie. Also, sometimes the filmmakers will make other changes to make it slightly—or possibly a great deal—different to the novel, so they get more than just the readers on board.

Some adaptations stick closely to the novel. I have seen many adaptations that only have very minor changes from the original novel, such as the film Tomorrow, When the War Began. None of the alterations made a difference to the plotline, like the omission of Ellie’s confused feelings for Homer in the film, which is “A-OK with me, as that was my least favourite part of the book,” says Aftran from Aftran’s YA Book Reviews.

Other changes can be major. I have seen many adaptations that divert from the book, like the television series The Vampire Diaries, based upon the novels by L.J. Smith. Excluding the first few episodes, it has developed in its own way, making it seem more like its own entity. Characters’ personalities and roles are different and the storyline takes on a completely different direction. One difference that anyone would notice is that in the show Elena has brunette hair and is really “sweet and caring and tough,” says Jenny from Forever Young Adult, while in the book she is blonde and “whiny and mean and snobby,” says Talya.

Cruel Intentions

Changes can have bad effects on movies, as well. Most reviews on the film Eragon, based upon Christopher Paolini’s debut fantasy novel, talked about the lacklustre acting, dialogue, and lack of pace, with a reviewer saying, “The only solid piece of real acting comes from the voice over work of Rachel Weisz.” An alteration from the book is when Eragon and Brom kill the Ra’zac, who aren’t actually killed until Brisingr, book three. Of course, not all reviews are negative; in fact, there are plenty of positive reviews, such as “It’s still a pretty good movie though.”

Always look to the positive side. When it comes to reading, you can visualise a movie playing in your head; whoever you’d cast in the movie, however the locations would look, that power is in your hands. For an adaptation, it allows everyone to see someone else’s interpretation, which gives readers an opportunity to compare and contrast to their own.

It’s true: every reader’s dream is to see his or her favourite book on the big screen. The question is: will it leave you disappointed? Yes, there will be disappointments, I admit, but you know what? Changes are inevitable, and it depends on how filmmakers “translate” a full-length novel to the screen and how the reader responds to it. Readers, like me, should enjoy the book and film for their own qualities.

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Books, Movies/TV series, Top Ten

Melissa’s Top Ten Heroines and Films to Check Out

One of the first lists I came up with when we decided to compile a series of top ten posts (after books and authors, of course) was top ten heroines, so here they are:

  1. Elizabeth Bennet220px-Prideandprejudiceposter

    Lively, clever, independent and able to capture (and inform) the arrogant Mr. Darcy, who is above her station in life (which was important in the 18th Century) – Elizabeth is number one. I can re-read Pride and Prejudice repeatedly and still be amused and amazed at her. I adore both portrayals of her in the 1995 BBC mini-series) adaptation and the 2005 Keira Knightly version.

  2. Jane Eyre coverJane Eyre

    Her independence, morality and strength of character captured me from first reading. The 2011 adaptation with Mia Wasikowska is my favourite. I love the line, “I am come back to you.”

  3. Ann Elliot

    Ann Elliot (of Persuasion, Jane Austen) is an unlikely pick as I much prefer independent women but she is such a good, gentle character, so much put-upon and she learns her lesson eventually.

  4. Elinor Dashwood

    Elinor Dashwood (of Sense & Sensibility, Jane Austen) is the pragmatic older sister to the romantic Marianne. I adore her sense of responsibility, pragmatism and dependability in the face of a family that needs her strength. I love that she gets her happily ever after, after all her sacrifice.

  5. Sydney Sagethe indigo spell

    In my review of The Indigo Spell I declare Sydney to be, “the perfect protagonist to read in the first person. She is intelligent, scientific, analytical, independent, strong, and some social interactions perplex her.” She also holds her own against some formidable opponents. The actress cast to play her (in the Vampire Academy films) will have to be pretty awesome in order to avoid letting me down.

  6. the time travellers wifeClare Abshire

    Another strong, romantic figure in a beautiful book and film, Clare Abshire is The Time Traveller’s Wife. Rachel McAdams is the perfect Clare.

  7. Margaret Hale

    Margaret (of North & South) is a lively, intelligent young woman who rises above terrible, successive events with elegance while capturing the heart of the tough Mr Thornton. Daniela Denby-Ashe is the perfect Margaret in the 2004 mini-series adaptation.

  8. Rose Hathawayzoey deuch

    Rose is the protagonist of the Vampire Academy series. She is kick-ass and unfailingly loyal. I can’t wait for the first of the movies out next year. I hope Zoey Deutch (set to play her) can do her justice.

  9. tomorrow when the war beganEllie Linton

    I love Tomorrow When the War Began, I loved it when the books came out in the 90s, I adored the movie when it came out in 2010. Caitlin Stasey wasn’t exactly how I imagined Ellie, but she was so awesome it didn’t matter. There will potentially be a follow up film out next year .

  10. Katniss Everdeen

    I came at this series the wrong way around, I saw the first movie and then began reading the books (because I had to know what happened next). You know the movie I’m talking about, because you haven’t been living under a rock have you? The Hunger Games. Either way Katniss is awesome – she is as compassionate as Margaret Hale, as integral to her family as Elinor the hunger gamesDashwood and as feisty as Rose Hathaway.

Is there anyone else that should be included in the list?

Books

Melissa’s The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead review

the indigo spellSydney is the perfect protagonist to read in the first person. She is intelligent, scientific, analytical, independent, strong, and some social interactions perplex her. Her exploration of deeply indoctrinated prejudices made it easy for me to go on the journey with her. I may be reading too much into it, but I really enjoy seeing people overcome imaginary barriers of different cultures—or species, in this case—interacting.

The Indigo Spell is the third book in the Bloodlines series and focuses on Sydney’s dawning understanding that her controlling Alchemist religion/employing organisation, and her developing and asserting her independence. With the same cast characters from the two previous books and the introduction to the enigmatic Marcus Finch, the leader of a rogue ex-Alchemist group, we continue the task of keeping Jill (half-sister of Moroi Queen Vasilisa Dragomir) safe.

This book is more centred around Sydney (a human), her blossoming relationship with Adrian (a Moroi—a mortal vampire), her acceptance of and learning how to use magic, and her two additional missions. Her Alchemist world-view is turned on its head and she comes to accept that she loves Adrian, no matter who or what he is, and that the world is not so black and white as the Alchemists would have her believe. Her mental wrestling to come to terms with these changes fascinated me, as I think in much the same way as she does, but purposely push against culturally inbuilt responses.

Richelle Mead was featured in my Ten Favourite Authors list with the award of “most addictive plot,” and this award is still well deserved. I devoured this book in three days. The only problem with first person is that I can’t get the characters out of my head now!

This is a highly readable, well-written book with an exceptional protagonist, a lovable (and gorgeous) hero, and an extremely addictive plot. Unfortunately, I have to wait until November for the next installment.

If you’re new to this series, try out the Vampire Academy books first as they are the preceding series to Bloodlines.