You wouldn’t draw on Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa

Before launching into my long list of book/movie comparisons, I think it is important for me to share my thoughts on the subject first. It dawned on me today that good books being turned into bad movies, as a topic, does not deal with the central issue! The central issue being that good literature isn’t handled with the careful thought and consideration that its readers deserve!

Take for instance a book that you love,- ANY book that you love. You cherish every single page; you have a whole mental world devoted to the characters and the story unraveling before you. In other words: you and your favourite book have a very intimate bond- a connection that transcends the words being read.

Along comes a movie (and I say ‘a’ because ‘the’ would imply that the book and the movie aren’t two very separate and unique entities). You, innocently or not so innocently, watch said movie. Bam! You find your whole mental world self-imploding as it becomes bombarded with the movie’s version of the book (most often a very tacky and completely different version to the one going on inside your head).  It’s very complicated you see. I think that you can’t even associate some books with “their” movie; it would be unfair to the reader to do so. Why the reader and not the author? Personally, I think the author is as much responsible for their book’s movie as the director- unless the author is dead and therefore has no say!

How can some authors allow their book to be portrayed by people who oftentimes haven’t even read the book, don’t care about it, and lack the ability to ACT? This key quality isn’t always available in Hollywood- and these are the people that we are trusting with our most cherished piece of literature?! If we can’t even trust the author to look after their work then how do we trust anyone?

Unfortunately for any lover of books, we gamble every time we read a book. We know that if the book is good it has a 50/50 chance of being made into a movie. If it is made into a movie then it could be your very own literary dream that is finally realised OR it could be that your favourite book is massacred over and over again with every cinematic showing of the movie :(. The compulsion to watch a book that has been turned into a movie is of course strong within all of us- perhaps those of us who are knowledgeable are even worse than those who watch these movies being completely ignorant of the books existence. They don’t have anything to lose! We willingly hand over our imagination’s integrity by making it adapt to the Hollywood version of our books. Mind movie or Hollywood movie?

Spiderman said that ‘with great power comes great responsibility’.. .well the same applies to books! You wouldn’t go to the Louvre and draw on Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa!

Enough ranting for the day- teehee- happy reading everyone 😛

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4 thoughts on “You wouldn’t draw on Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa

  1. Although I completely agree that many books are murdered by their movies (I have often had to sit through a beloved book’s funeral) I remember a quote from one of my film lecturers last year, and it went something along the lines of, “A book is text, a movie visual film. They are two different mediums and should be interpreted as seperate entities. A book cannot do what a movie can, so you shoudn’t expect a movie to do what a book can.” Simply said, movies are the interpretations and visions of other people which – natuarally – wouldn’t be the same as yours. Once again, I am not disagreeing that most movies don’t seem to ruin their written counterparts, simply that the film is someone’s vision, someone’s art. 🙂

    • I don’t know if I completely agree with what you’re saying 🙂 . If the book and the movie are meant to be interpreted as separate entities they should go by different names. The fact of the matter is that movies that are based on a book and share that book’s name are subscribing to its plot and using its characters. Although one can’t expect the movie to be exactly the same as a book that it is based on, there is a certain expectation. I agree that a film is someone’s vision, someone’s art but when someone makes a movie out of a book, they are basically subscribing to the author’s vision- otherwise they would have created something that was wholly their own. I guess I think that a director that wants to create a visual counterpart to a book has a duty towards the book’s story. Although we each have different interpretations of the books that we read, the story and the characters remain the same and shouldn’t be changed for the sake of visual creativity- then the director really would be changing another person’s art. I value authenticity in a movie that is based on a book- when things are added in and things are changed anybody that has read the book will immediately notice those changes. If a director wants to create art then he should create his own or he should be faithful to the person’s art that he is representing.

      • Although I totally agree, and I too used to think so, some things that work well in books will not work as well on screen. For one, having read The Shining by Stephen King (I am a Stephen King freak but have personally never seen a very good movie based on one of his books. They are all terrible!) I was disappointed by the changes made in its movie counterpart starring Jack Nickelson. The part with the dead woman in the bath in the film represented Jack almost having sex with her, whereas in the book he never actually even saw her. There was only this creepy moment where there were signs that she was there and creeping towards him making him (and the reader) doubt his sanity. Realising now that the director thought what he did put in would be more visually frightening than how it was in the book. He attempted to produce the same kind of fear that was generated in the book, but in a sense that was more visually stimulating. Books can reveal a lot more about a character’s inner thoughts and emotions than a movie can as all it has to rely on are facial expressions and dialogue. This is why I suppose movies state, “Based on the book by…” rather than “This is the book by…” because the definition of ‘based’ is “use something as a foundation for” or “a main element to which others are added”.

  2. well, the problem with movies based on books, is whether they intend to follow the text as closely as possible, or take the world and characters created and completely change them. Like Lord of the Rings, they tried to be as faithfull to the books as possible, but they had to leave stuff out to fit a movies format, and also had to decide what to focus on. Apparently, the focus on Aragon and his becoming king wasnt as central to the story as it was in the movie. I say apparently because Inever got farther than the 2nd chapter of the second book.

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