Monday, August 13, 2012

Why I don’t care for Movies made from Books.

Why I don’t care for Movies made from Books.

This is one thing that anyone who knows me really well can tell you that I’m particularly vehement about. I like to read. A lot. And in some minds that may be enough to condemn movies altogether. The thing is, I really like watching movies too. I worked at a video store for three years and quite happily watched just about every movie that I could. The problem?

The stories and craft necessary to write a book or a movie are very different.  What is the number one complaint you hear when a new movie based on a novel is released? 9 out of 10 times I’d say it’s “they left out so much! All of my favorite parts!” The other 1 out of ten is usually “it just plain out sucked.” The prime example of that would be the movie version of Eragon. Yikes. The only redeeming part of that movie was how pretty Saphira was.

There’s a reason they’ve extended the upcoming Hobbit movie into 3 full length films. For a book that is around 100,000 words, give or take, that seems like the only way to do it full justice. There’s just too much story to be crammed into a three hour film.

A movie script has about an average of a minute of film per page.  So, let’s say one three hour movie has around 200 pages. A Microsoft word document has usually 300 or so words, give or take based on formatting. That’s a lot fewer words.

But of course, movies aren’t as much about the words. If  you sat through a three hour movie that was nothing but dialogue, it would be absolutely terrible. Movies are about the visual, emotional, connection that the actors portray through a combination of body language and dialogue. A character cannot be as introspective in a movie without a voice over, which can be done very well or very not.

I recently reread the Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind. I love those books. They are very philosophical, bringing up issues about what it means to be human, or even sentient. I hate putting those books down once I start reading, I’m kept on the edge of my seat because I just need to know what is going to happen.

They wouldn’t make great movies. A lot of the books are dialogue, and very thought provoking dialogue at that. I’m a little leery of the upcoming Ender’s Game movie. I have faith that Orson Scott Card knows what he’s doing, and Harrison Ford as Col. Graff intrigues me.

I’ve been told by many people that I need to learn to set aside the book when I see a movie. With the Harry Potter movies, I simply was unable to do that. I feel that those movies were too much too soon. If they had waited ten, fifteen years from the end of the series to make the movies it might have been better. I didn’t like the movies at all, but I adore the books. How can I set aside the stories that I absolutely adore when a movie is butchering the same story?

I’ve been asked if I publish a book, if I’ll want to sell the movie rights. I really don’t think I would. Not until at least twenty years after the book is published. Or until I’m dead. Really, either way works for me. If I publish a successful book, I want it to be successful by it’s own merits. I want readers to fall in love with the story and the characters the way they were meant to be. Not because the actor was really really cute. If I want to make a movie, I think I’ll write a screenplay.

Frankly, I think there need to be more truly original screenplays instead of relying on the popularity of books. A good, compelling story on screen is hard to do, but I love it when it’s done right.

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