Thursday, August 16, 2012

Novel Into Film

When a book version of a movie is set to release, you can almost hear an audible sigh from the book's fans. Particularly when the book that is greatly beloved and seems impossible to put on the big screen without losing something. But I think of film adaptations as just that - another interpretation of a book. If I were to write the film adaptation of The Hunger Games, I'm not sure if I really would've shown the Gamemakers creating their various obstacles for the tributes  - but I appreciated how the filmmakers perceived it, as a sterile white room with hollogram versions of the arena, the whole process coming off like an extremely involved video game. You could almost understand how the Gamemakers didn't seem to grasp the reality of what they were doing. I was a bit disappointed at the romantic take on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, based on the sardonic novella by F. Scott Fitzgerald, but also appreciated that the film chose to focus on how the aging process affected a romantic relationship, a storyline that the novella glosses over. Or Atonement, a movie so visually stunning I almost forgave the heavy-handed overdirected feeling of a novel whose narration unfolds to a brilliant reveal. And there's The Wonder Boys, one of those adaptations that fans of the book almost universally appreciate because it manages to get the wry angst of academia without the flourish of Michael Chabon's luxurious prose.

I suppose the sighing comes from the danger that people will see the movie and forget that it came from a book. But what we see at the Booksmith (and no doubt what publishers and those in the book industry know all too well) is that an impending movie release more often than not it piques a curiosity. It gives an image or makes a reader remember a name while they're browsing, makes them read the back of a book they may have otherwise not picked up. And if someone truly loved the story on the screen, they'll often come in and buy the book to read the version that inspired the film (or, as in one case I witnessed, someone came in and bought Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré because they had seen the movie and were not sure they got the ending).

There are two movie adaptations coming out this year that has everyone buying the book: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. I've read The Great Gatsby and it has been adapted before, and I'm excited to see Leonardo DiCaprio in the role of Gatsby, and hope the actual movie is a bit more nuanced than the glitzy trailer. And after watching the Cloud Atlas trailer, I'm still not quite sure I understand what is going on, but I love how the story seems to play with time. After seeing the trailer, there is no way I'm not reading this book.

For your viewing pleasure:

The Great Gatsby movie trailer

Cloud Atlas movie trailer

No comments: