There’s always been a heated debate when a book is adapted into a movie, that whether the movie gave justice to the book by keeping it original, by keeping its essence intact or even though deviating from the storyline the movie was still a beautiful piece of art. Like once Stephen king said “books and movies are like apples and oranges they both are fruit, but tastes completely different.” we need to explore the right way of interpreting a book adaptation into movies to be able to truly enjoy it or even dislike it for that matter.
One of the argument generally given in this debate is that book is more detailed than the movie and hence impacts a person more deeply, a person can even understand the feelings of the characters however in movies due to time constraints they miss out on details and though the audio and visual effects try to convey the emotions of characters it doesn’t create that kind of impact. However, this argument can be countered to a certain extent. In 1924, Erich von Stroheim attempted a literal adaptation of Frank Norris’s novel Teague with his film Greed and the resulting film was 9½ hours long. It was cut, at studio insistence, to four hours, then without Stroheim’s input, cut again to around two hours. This movie was, however, quite unclear and hence, since then the directors have tried avoiding putting everything in a movie. This example is important to notice that reading a book and watching a movie are two different activities therefore even if one tries it’s simply not possible to make it one and the same.
Here’s something interesting to watch. ‘Adaptation’ is a 2002 American comedy-drama metafilm directed by Spike Jonze and written by Charlie Kaufman. This is an intentional satire that is based on Kaufman’s experience of attempting to adapt the book into a screenplay while suffering from writer’s block.
The other argument that is put forth is about the interpretation. Reading a book allows a person’s mind to be creative and interpret the book in different ways as Luis Borges says “author’s intention is a mere fallible thing, a book goes beyond it” through this he does not mean to insult author’s interpretation of book but only pointing out the million possible ways it can be interpreted. However, in movies, it does not leave a lot of space to imagine.
It’s pretty much taking whatever is given to us as a whole and also the interpretation of a director is very different from the concerned. There are theorists who believe that change in interpretation is necessary in fact, the director should be entirely unconcerned with the source, as a novel is a novel and a film is a film, and the two works of art must be seen as separate entities. For example, in the sci-fi ‘to be or nought to be ‘adapted from the story by Kurt Vonnegut, the film-makers decided to abandon Vonnegut’s choice of music because they felt it worked in prose and the music confused the audience, therefore, they chose to do away with it.
The worldwide loved series of harry potter, the film adaptation was closely guided by JK Rowling herself, she provided the map of Hogwarts ground and prevented the director from adding the graveyard because it would appear in the later parts of the novel. This way of including the author in the process of film adaptation usually leads to a better outcome, however, the Potterheads usually find discrepancies which are inevitable.
Sometimes stories from books can be used as a source to create an entirely different movie. Like the movie, ‘Lion King’ is inspired by Hamlet (also the African mythological stories). Even Hindi movies like ‘Haider’, ‘Omkara’ were also inspired by Shakespeare (hamlet and Othello respectively).
So far what we can understand from this is that they both are a different piece of art with their pros and cons, however, if we go by statistics to see what the current generation prefers we can see that-
A very small proportion of teenagers prefer doing both activities. Though this debate is never-ending, we need to encourage both the activities among the teenagers to go one step further in this debate and explore more arguments. Like Joel Edgerton says “when you’re making a movie of a book, people are always waiting with their knives” that’s the kind of spirit that needs to be kept alive among the teenagers. We need to learn to appreciate both the source of entertainment and learning in their own way and try to keep away from the habit of making a comparison and carefully scrutinize both to actually pinpoint its faults and marvel and enjoy it to its fullest. After all, with books and movies, it’s always the more the merrier.