First of all, I’d like to say that if my books ever get published, and if I ever get a proposal to make movies based on my novels, I definitely want to be in on the process. Not only do I want my books to stay at least reasonably like the books–I don’t mind characters who don’t look like they did in the books so much, as long as they act like the characters in the books–and not only have I seen too many movies where the essence and messages of the books were lost, but I’m also fascinated by all things filmmaking. 😉 See Plans of Trust. Also see The War of the Vendee, from Navis Pictures, and the Sherwood Pictures films. All of these movies are done by independent groups and have more charm and in most cases better acting than Hollywood movies. I have not seen Plans of Trust yet, but Vendee, Courageous, and Fireproof are among my favorite films of all time. Thank you, Mr. Morlino! And I know that was off-topic… In the case that I have passed away by the time my books catch the eye of some director, then I hope my estate will definitely be consulting. (My de facto, informal will at this time is pretty much that Iris inherits all my writing stuff, including unfinished texts, with the hopes that she will continue them. Also, anyone else may build on my work with Iris’ permission. The rights to my completed poems and novels go to my family, to help support them.)
Wow, I just got really off track. I’ll blame it on my cold. (The same cold that Obi-Wan also caught and is still recovering from… *sigh*)
Now, I think that it’s only fair if we judge the movie by its own criteria and not by the industry in general. There have been marvelous adaptions (aka, The Lord of the Rings and the Hornblower series,) and there have been bad ones (Alice in Wonderland… *shudder* Frankly, I’ll take my chances with the Balrogs and mumakil. I don’t want to face a Jabberwocky or a Mock-Turtle. Ever again. But maybe I’m unfair, even if the movie sucked. The books was almost as creepy… Sorry, I just can’t read Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, or any of the book clones *cough* Seaward *cough* without suffering nightmares. The book destroyed my childhood, and the movie freaked me out.)
The adaption of The Lord of the Rings is a great movie, but it does play free with certain parts of the books. And yet, at the same time, it goes very well as an adaption of the books. It can stand alone, yes, but it also ties in very well with the books, if we can stay our bookish-snobbishness for the time being as we watch the movies. The only thing that really annoys me is if someone takes only what happens in the movies as “canon”. To me, the books will always be the only canon. People love to hate on The Lord of the Rings for eliminating Tom Bombadil, having other elves than Legolas at Helm’s Deep, the too-early deaths of Sauruman and Wormtongue and Frodo telling Sam to go home on Cirith Ungol (yes, those last two are my own private pet peeves), but frankly it’s probably the best book adaption out there if you use both epicness and true-to-the-book-ness as your measure.
The A&E adaption of The Scarlet Pimpernel, starring Richard E. Grant, is another really good adaption, if you can temporarily suspend your sense of disbelief and/or your booksnob attitude. True, it plays free with the situations, historical accuracy, and (to an extent) Chauvelin’s appearance and character, but if you like action and historical movies, this is your cup of tea, courtesy of the BBC. (To balance out the blah-history-ness in the third movie of the trilogy, Mademoiselle Guillotine, I highly recommend The War of the Vendee, above. Also, this same movie has the best villainess I have ever seen in any movie! She almost beats Lady De Winter from The Three Musketeers for sheer evil and disgustingness and oh-heaven-I-so-want-to-slaughter-her!)
The Hornblower movies, also from A&E, are perhaps the only franchise about which I will ever say “I actually liked the movies better than the books.” The C.S. Forester classics, while good reading, can be very dark and a little depressing at times, not to mention the blood. C.S. Forester is nothing if not honest. Not necessarily family-friendly material. However, if you ignore the four-letter words (which, let me promise you, is pretty much limited to just ‘hell’ or ‘damn’), you find yourself in the middle of a movie just about everyone can like. If there is one disappointing thing about this series, it’s that it didn’t follow the course of all the books and take the unfinished one–Hornblower During the Crisis–which would have had Horatio as a spy *swoons*!–into the cinema world as a full blown story.
And I need not even mention Sherlock, which is sheer brilliance!
Now, for the not-so-good.
The Chronicles of Narnia (the old BBC adaptions.) While these were charming movies and re-created the charm of the books quite well, they weren’t all that imaginative, and they cut some of my favorite scenes from the books. Also, the series was discontinued, leaving the count at The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and The Silver Chair. And… *cough cough* I would like to see anyone try to make a movie of The Last Battle. It could never be as awesome as the book!
The Sword in the Stone. It is a cute family movie, but let’s face it–except for bits of the face-off between Merlyn and Madame Mim (Yes, I spelled Merlyn right! This is how he’s spelled in the T.H. White-verse–probably to differentiate from the falcon species… which does appear in the book…), this movie is absolutely nothing like the book. It lacks the book’s charm and humor and incredible detail. It cuts out chunks (the more interesting ones) from the book, it completely mutilates Kay… I could go on and on. Not that I have any particular hate for this movie. Like I said before, it’s a nice little family movie. It’s just not… all that memorable. Unlike the book. I’m glad they stopped there rather than trying to make the whole Once And Future King cycle into animated movies. It’s a movie about Merlyn educating the Wart. It’s not a movie about the Wart, the Wart and Kay, or even the Wart and Merlyn. It’s not exactly character-oriented, which is probably why it’s less than memorable. (Though Archimedes was adorable. Which is almost sacrilege, to a fan of the books… No spoilers. >:-D)
The Last of the Mohicans. (The animated one.) It’s another charming family movie–and not really forgettable–it might even be a cult classic–but it’s just not the book. Characters were different. Different people died. (More people die in the book, which gives it a more complex aspect. No spoilers. :-3) Again, recurring theme here, it lacked much of the humor of the book, such as SPOILER Major Heyward trying to impersonate Hawkeye END SPOILER.Now, the book might be both sexist and racist, but let’s face it–almost anything could be labeled sexist or racist in one way or another. And it’s a classic, and a good read besides. Need I say more?
But about the movie, I did rather like it. But if I’m looking for entertainment when I’m not absolutely worn out by Raya’s antics, I’m going to the book.
Pride and Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley. Most Austen movies tend to be very close to the books, but this one… All I can say is pretty much… meh. The acting may be good, but the story is pretty much insipid–at least to someone who’s seen the version with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. Its only advantage above the latter movie is that it’s shorter–and some people wouldn’t call that an advantage. (I only do because I’d really rather read Austen than watch Austen. No offense, people.)
This movie is also fairly good, but next to the A&E version… it does not stand a chance.
I would like to present a new set of criteria for judging movies (and especially book adaptions) as a whole, which is based on the way Steven Graydanus
breaks down the good and the bad in his film critiques. It is based on systematic evaluation of the message, the way it executes the story, and the divergences, which should be justified. While critiquing any art form is in itself an art, this should at least simplify it for people who don’t have much experience with critique. Be forewarned, though, it takes a little math, and some familiarity with negative values.
- Message. Is the message true to the book? On a scale of one to five. How good or bad is it? (Yes, add points to score; no, subtract points from score. If the message is virtually unrecognizable or mangled into a twisted dark clone of itself, subtract up to ten points.)
- Trueness to the book. (Yes, +0points; no, -1point unless it’s really really bad. Then -3points.)
- Diversions from the book. (Yes, +0points; no, -1point. Come on. It’s a movie. It is a separate entity. And if it has no diversions, it’s unimaginative.)
- Execution of diversions from book, on a scale of one to five. (Well done; +points. Poorly done; -points.)
- Execution of book canon portions, on a scale of one to five. (Well done; +points. Poorly done; -points. Superbly done; +7 to 10 points. Extremely badly done; -7 to 15 points. Yes, I’m a cynic. The real question is… are you?)
- General inventiveness, on a scale of one to five. (Well done; +points. Poorly done; -0points. Unless it’s completely unimaginative, in which case -up to 5 points.
- For Christians, believers in moral absolutes, and concerned parents only! Moral value, on a scale of one to five. (Moral value positive: +0 points. Moral value extremely positive: +5 points. Moral value negative: -up to 7 points.)
- Special effects, on a scale of one to five. (Good; +0points. Poor; -1point. Poor but ignorable; -0points. Poor for a reason–such as to emulate another era or style of film– +1point.)
- Other. For depressiveness, euphoria, simple beauty, etc. + or – up to 5 points.
Bear in mind, this system is not perfect. Different people will most likely get different scores on the same movies. Lord of the Rings scored 20 (17 without morality points), and the BBC show Sherlock scored 27 (24 without morality points), due to its sheer inventiveness and addictiveness. Alice in Wonderland, on the other hand, scored a -11, or a -13 without morality points. *shudders* I really, really dislike that movie.
So, in general, I am a connoisseur of movies, and a lover of books, but I have my limits. And some things (such as blatant departures from book canon without any justification, or book canon so badly done it doesn’t even recall the book canon,) just drive me nuts. In general, I’m not as hard on fairy tale adaptions as I am on book adaptions (Tangled scored a princely 23, 22 without morality points–yes, I only gave it one morality point, because she runs away from the only parent figure she’s known and disobeys and rebels–she got the point because she’s a peacemaker and willing to sacrifice herself), but that’s mostly because folk tales belong to everyone and sheesh, I know what it’s like to slave and suffer over a book for months and years and then realize it’s not what you want and overhaul it and spend blood from your paper cuts and tears from your text cuts on it! A book is a little piece of the author’s heart. With something that personal, it needs respect. Just as movies are little pieces from the hearts of everyone who worked on them.
I hope you enjoyed the post. Be sure to check in for the other bloggers’ posts in this blog chain!
5th – http://nasrielsfanfics.wordpress.com/
6th – http://theloonyteenwriter.wordpress.com/
7th – http://sammitalk.wordpress.com/
8th – http://thelittleenginethatcouldnt.wordpress.com/
9th – http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com/
10th – http://maralaurey.wordpress.com/
11th – http://charleyrobson.blogspot.com/
12th – http://taratherese.wordpress.com/
13th – http://theweirdystation.blogspot.com/
14th – http://fairyskeletons.blogspot.com/
15th – http://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com/
16th – http://novelexemplar.wordpress.com/
17th – http://magicandwriting.wordpress.com/
18th – http://mirrormadeofwords.com/
19th – http://www.brookeharrison.com/
20th – http://miriamjoywrites.com/
21st – http://eighthundredninety.blogspot.com/
22nd – http://unikkelyfe.wordpress.com/
23rd – http://aaronandtamarabooks.blogspot.com/
24th – http://www.butterfliesoftheimagination.weebly.com/
25th – https://erinkenobi2893.wordpress.com/
26th – http://turtlesinmysoup.blogspot.com/
27th – http://missalexandrinabrant.wordpress.com/
28th – http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ – The topic for July’s blog chain will be announced.
Thanks for reading, and God Bless! 🙂