The story of movie adaptations
For bookworms, learning that a beloved novel is being adapted into a movie is both the single most thrilling and terrifying moment of our lives. Characters and storylines that spoke to us on pages are either brought to life with beautiful set design and soundtracks, or permanently damaged by mediocre acting and complete deviations from the original plot.
March 22, 2017
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Among those movies that lived up to the brilliance of the book they were based upon is “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett. Taking place in the 1960’s in Mississippi, the novel tells the story of two black maids, and a young white lady‘s efforts to write and publish a book about their difficulties. Adapted into a movie starring Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis and Emma Stone,
the 2011 film was able to perfectly portray the contempt of those the“help” worked for. With impeccable acting from all the main characters, the movie maintained all the twists and turns of the book’s original plot, and brought to life the important messages found in between the pages of the novel.
The Book Thief
Poignant and tear inducing, the World War II novel by Marcus Zusak made it hard for the movie adaptation to live up to its paper counterpart. However, the 2013 movie starring Sophie Nelisse as the young Liese was able to make every scene as touching as the book did. The book burning and the closing scene were particularly painful to watch on the big screen, and Liesel’s dramatic escapes and emotional responses are made more realistic through the set and atmosphere of the movie.
Life of Pi
With descriptions of giant tigers, man eating islands and tragic shipwrecks, the “Life of Pi” made for an extremely exciting read. Every chapter of Yann Martel’s book painted pictures in my head as I read, and the 2012 film created a world of exotic sea creatures, terrifying animals and a deep blue ocean that lived up to my expectations. Winning Oscars for best director (Ang Lee) and best visual effects, the movie was beautiful enough to match every artistic image in my head.
As a child, “The Giver” was the first dystopian novel I got my hands on. I was immediately enraptured by the eerie and somehow peaceful world Lois Lowry described in her novel. When the movie adaptation was announced in 2014, my heart was filled with genuine terror that it would ruin one of my favorite books. Despite Meryl Streep’s involvement, the film, while entertaining, did not live up to the book. Changing the age of the characters, what their role was in the society and the fundamental parts of the plot, the movie disappointed viewers who were hoping to get a glimpse of the famous book brought to life.
The author of many heartstring tugging romance novels, John Green helped develop his book “Paper Towns” into a movie in 2015. Filled with pretentious teenage characters trying to find love, the novel is known for its meaningful quotes and romantic perspective of life. The film attempted to recapture the feelings of nostalgia and idealistic hope in the novel, but only painted a picture of a cheesy search for romance and was unable to develop its characters and plot as smoothly as the novel.
The Spectacular Now
Before “Fault in Our Stars” and “Divergent,” Shailene Woodley starred in another mediocre book to movie adaptation. About an apathetic party animal who attempts to change the life of a quiet introspective girl, the Tim Tharp novel “The Spectacular Now” developed the characters into realistic three-dimensional people. With less than two hours to explore the characteristics of the main characters, the movie turned into a cliche romance that did little to expand upon the emotional connections that the book provided.