It’s no secret that nowadays, converting books to the big screen is a major money-grab. Some are ragingly successful, some flop flatter than that kid at the public pool trying to dive for the first time. But one thing is for sure: everyone will have an opinion about it.
I love books, and I love movies. But I will probably never get caught up in angrily comparing them, and here’s why.
1. I didn’t write the book or make the movie.
Audiences take books and movies so damn personally! And I don’t understand it. That director or script-writer cannot please everyone, even you. He/she doesn’t hate you, and he/she will probably never read that open letter you wrote to them, describing your hatred for them.
2. Editing is really, really necessary.
When a director/writer converts a beloved book, he has a lot of choices to make. Many developments of character/storyline in books are slow, or lacking dialogue, and that’s okay. We read books to take the time for escape. But for an average two-hour movie, not all of these details can be transferred in a way that’s compelling and interesting. (This is why I’ll always be impressed with the visionary world created in The Hunger Games. The books’ stories were told completely from Katniss’ point of view; she doesn’t describe or even know about many of the things we get to experience on the screen.)
Game of Thrones is literally the only thing I have currently seen that’s pretty much word-for-word from the book, plus boobs. (I’ve only read the first book so far, though, so I can’t speak for the accuracy of the rest yet.) And each book is equal to a 10 hour season of a very expensive mini-series. I’m sorry, but Hollywood can’t and won’t do that for every book you read, even if it makes you mad.
Ultimately, those changes that were made from book-to-movie HAVE to be approved by the author of the books themselves, if they’re still alive. When those authors penned those books, even they have to make a disclaimer at the beginning: “This is a work of fiction. Any relation to a person living or dead, or a situation, is purely coincidental.” The chances of their original book actually imitating the life of someone, without permission, is very unlikely – but they don’t want to get sued, so they cover their butt, just in case. Movie-makers have to take the same care with the material they’re given. I refuse to shake my fist at a director who apparently “didn’t read the book!”
Believe me. They did. Legally, they had to. And they discussed everything with the author. They reached an agreement, they signed papers, and they covered their butts. Just because it’s not the world that you imagined when you read the book, doesn’t mean that it’s not a good movie version of the story, deserving of acclaim. That’s like hearing an epically beautiful and moving orchestral score, and saying, “Well, that’s not what I heard playing in my head when I read it! I hate it!”
So, if the author (or whoever is acting on their behalf) is cool with it, why aren’t you?
3. The Bible is not a novel.
I know, I know. I’m going there.
If converting books to movies has become a major money-grab, then converting Bible stories into movies has become the peak of money and controversy. But it’s not a new thing. Like, at all.
The Bible has been used for big-screen stories for the past 100 years, at least. And I highly doubt that any of them were completely “accurate.”
A.) None of us were alive when the Bible was happening.
B.) I believe that the Bible is the actual word of God, intended to teach and challenge us, to get us talking to (and hopefully loving) other people. But it is not always heavy on dialogue, infinitesimal details or even character development. Even with the big, well-known stories, there are still many aspects shrouded in mystery.
C.) Movie-goers and directors alike cannot exactly consult the many Authors of the written material to turn these stories into the movies they deserve to be.
That being said, I’m just happy that Hollywood is trying AT ALL, and a lot of them (not everyone) are doing the best they can. I have a list of based-on-Bible movies that I love. It’s not huge, but it exists, and all of them have details that are missing or added or changed. It’s my choice to not get offended by that. If the integrity of God’s character and his-story is still intact, I still feel blessed and encouraged every time I watch the stories of God and his people brought to life. It’s also up to me to keep reading the Bible, so that I remember the important details.
My point is: If you don’t want to spend your money on what you feel will be a piece of crap, that’s fine. Stick to the books…but you might miss out. (Personally, Steve and I like to watch the movies first and read the books afterwards. Then it becomes like an expansion pack of the world we were just introduced to!)
I just honestly don’t think that you can go into a theatre to watch a movie based on a book, novel or Bible, and expect it to be totally accurate or what you thought it would be. If you want that, you might have to make it yourself.
“Be the book-adapted movie you wish to see in the world.” — Darren Aronofsky *
But that’s just my opinion.
*He didn’t actually say that. I did. Or maybe Gandhi. I don’t know. Accuracy is hard.