By Nick “Novel” Gabanski
I remember a time when a book got a movie deal and the movie was made to almost the exact detail of the book. Granted, some details had to be left out because there’s a limited amount of time for a movie to show the whole story; whereas the book can take as long as it pleases to go in depth with descriptions and character development. And people loved it. But these days, well… these days when a book gets a movie-deal, all the movie shares in common with it is the title, the characters, and a shadow of the actual plot. So what happened? Why did movies based on books start to deviate so very far from the authors’ creations?
Before I attempt to answer that, let me explain something. When an author creates a novel and gets it published, usually what occurs is a contract that involves the author’s rights to the book. And when someone from Hollywood comes along and talks business about turning that novel into a movie, the publishing company is usually the one who makes the deal and not the author. This is usually the case. In essence, the author has no say in how the movie is made. This could easily attribute to why movies these days are not even close to accurate to the books they are based on. But if that were the case, then movies would always be done with little to no similarity to the book.
So Hollywood directors and producers actually did care about how the story was done and tried to represent it in the film medium as best they could for a time. So again, what happened? Well, there’s this word that in and of itself is quite harmless, but when applied to the film industry… it’s rather evil. The word is: interpretation. Recently, directors and producers have taken to using the word “interpretation” as a shield from critics by saying, “This is my interpretation of the book!” But therein lies the problem. The book often doesn’t need someone else’s interpretation. As the saying goes: “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”
Indeed, because so many directors these days feel the need to impress their own visions on something that is already created, I for one have come to lower my expectations greatly when it comes to movies based off books. When my dad and I read a book and it became a movie, we saw it and then we analyzed and compared the book to the movie. Perhaps that is a dying way of thinking, as I’ve heard more and more that the books don’t matter when it comes to the movies. “The movies should be able to stand on their own without any criticism about how unrelated they are to the books.” That is commonly what other people have told me. Well, hate to say it, but most movies these days that are based on books that “stand alone” from the book are, quite frankly, terrible.
Think of it like this: each book is like a package of varied cookies. What directors do is open the package, take one or two cookies that they like, throw the rest away, and then proceed to attempt to bake their own varied cookies. Only their baking skills are that of a child’s compared to the expert job the author did. Who in their right mind throws away a box of perfectly baked cookies? No one, right? Unfortunately, that is exactly what the latest trend in Hollywood is: take a few things, throw the rest away and “create” your own material. It needs to stop.
Edited by: Maddy D.