Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Page to Screen Pontifications

Page to Screen Pontifications
Within the past month we have seen released two movie adaptations of popular books; Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. In the near future we have the second installment of The Hobbit (which I am still trying to decide how I feel on it being extended into three books). Likely this summer will have a bevy of superhero films and of course there is much stir over John’s Green’s The Fault in our Stars and I am constantly hearing rumors of other literary classics that are under consideration for screen adaptation.  With Hollywood seeming to be looking to the print form for their inspiration I have found that I have mixed feelings about this trend. On one hand it can be fun and interesting to see how various screen writers directors approach a novel to translate it onto film. Yet, translating is exactly what they do and so much can be lost in the translation. Some actors are able to bring surprising new aspects to the characters they portray. But only rarely can we witness an actor’s role grown in the same manner that can be done in a book.
The most recent example for me of this see-saw of good and bad comes from Ender’s Game, a book I have long held in high esteem and will gladly reread when the opportunity arises. After seeing the movie, I was a bit shocked. I spent well over an hour discussing all the things, minor and major that had been changed, toned down, forgotten or were plain wrong. Yet, as a friend pointed out to me, the major moral and ethical questions that Ender’s Game addresses have been lifted out and emphasized.
To me this begs some questions regarding film adaptations, most especially how true does the adaptation need to stay to the original text in order for it to be considered successful and successful in whose eyes?
I will admit that one result of this trend that I have noticed is that the concepts and ideas, however watered down, truncated, simplified, edited, etc. are reaching a far greater number of people. In the past year I have encountered numerous individuals wanting copies of Ender’s Game, Great Gatsby, Atlas Shrugged, Sherlock Holmes, and The Hobbit to name a few. A handful has even confided in me that they want to read the books prior to seeing the movie! While the adaptation may be a far cry from the eminence of the book, perhaps lovers of the written story should be happy that the movies are driving people to the print versions.

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