Let me start out by saying that I am both an avid reader of books, and a movie watcher of great enthusiasm. Strengths are individualistic to both, and both are good forms of entertainment and instruction.
Furthermore, I sincerely enjoy watching movies based on books. The Lord of the Rings is my favorite film trilogy of all time, just as The Lord of the Rings is my favorite book.
My only question is why do the Hollywood film makers feel that they need to differentiate movies from the books they’re based on? So many unnecessary changes that benefit no one. Seriously?
First off, what are some book adaptions that were successful, and why were they so well received? Instantly, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Harry Potter film series and the Hunger Games spring to mind.
Obviously, on those series in particular, the production budget wasn’t exactly sparing, a critical factor in adapting large scale stories to the big screen. But also an adherence that bordered on fascination to the exact wording of the books they were based on. Praise and critical acclaim were lauded upon them not for creating original material, but for bringing the inspired books they were based on accurately to the silver screen.
However, some changes were made. With the possible exception of Harry Potter, practically all of the unnecessary major changes to the books weren’t given a single, positive reason for their existence. Instead they were disliked, and well nigh declared against by avid fans of the series and new comers alike.
Who enjoys watching the darkened character of Faramir, or the petty, weak-minded Denethor of Jackson’s films? The Elves at Helm’s Deep are simply too cool to complain against, but what about Gandalf appearing weak and being defeated by the Witch-King of Angmar? Frankly, I always skip the part in RotK when Gollum convinces Frodo to send Sam away. That particular change sickens me.
Regardless as to how much each of the changes were in and of themselves disliked, the films above were for the most part quite true to the text and spirit of the books. What about those films that deviated much further?
An interesting study on the subject comes from the film series The Chronicles of Narnia. Look no further than the movie review Rotten Tomatoes site for a prime example of what deviations can cost the film companies.
The first movie, deviating very little scored a 76% approval rating, a high number from time tested critics. Prince Caspian, deviating a little more, scored a lower rating of 69%. And the one that deviated most, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, just happens to be the one with a “rotten” rating of 49%. Coincidence? I think not!
The more the movies deviate, the less they are enjoyed, because no matter how creative the filmmakers are, they can’t equal the brilliance of such authors as Lewis and Tolkien.
Which leads me to my last topic. You all saw it coming. The Hobbit trilogy. WHY GOD, WHY?!!!
I love the book it’s based on, and I was no less than ecstatic when I heard they were making a film of it, and better yet they were going to flesh out what happened in the appendices of the Lord of the Rings during the time period of The Hobbit.
NO!! They deviated like crazy and what did it accomplish? A second-rate trilogy, lacking in character, realism, depth and greatness. They made up entire plot lines, flung the appendices to the wind, gave Saruman a side of the ridiculous, and reduced the dwarves to a ramble of wandering clowns. Worst of all they added in…a love story between dwarf and elf!! AAUUGGHH!!!
And what did these changes accomplish? A better film that could, due solely to the director’s vision, take its place alongside masterpieces such as LotR? Not hardly. Instead they made a pretty little film that had moviegoers nodding and smiling dumbly, “Yeah, that was alright, I guess.”
When will filmmakers learn? Certain changes may be necessary in any type of adaption, but be warned! The further you deviate, the lower the quality of the film.