** A is for ADAPTATIONS **
I love a good book. I love a good film. But when books become films they are quite often loaded with expectation. It's hard to feel sorry for successful writers like Stephanie Meyer (of Twilight fame), but I bet she's nervous when the new film adaptations of her books reach the screen for the first time. Maybe it's not so much as a worry for them flopping as a movie, but more of a concern of 'will they live up the the legacy the book series has created?' And 'will the fans like the portrayal of the story?'
These are my tips on how a reader can survive the portrayals of screenwriters and directors who hack and hone our beloved stories.
1. Don't watch and read the same story in a short period of time
I finished reading Hunger Games 15 hours before I saw the film. I finished Lord of the Rings the night before I saw the second installment of the films. Would I recommend that?!
I couldn't get Katniss's voice out my head (as she speaks in the first person in the book) and Lord of the Rings was so compressed (yes, shortened to a mere three hours!) that I couldn't cope! It just felt wrong. I am planning to see Les Miserables on stage and wait a while before I rent the DVD.
An oldie but a goodie in terms of ttps. The films show you EVERYTHING. What exact expressions the protagonist has. Whether the sun is shining or not. What kind of car the bad guy drives. Books play on your imagination and writers quite often leave some description unsaid to allow the reader to build a bit more of their own picture. Films can ruin this and limit your imagination if you watch them before reading the book version. As a reader, you don't get to use your brain.
3. Consider refusing to see the film adaptation of your very favourite book on principle
I seriously considered whether or not I'd regret seeing The Help, Hunger Games, Lovely Bones, and Life of Pi on the big screen (see my review and thoughts with my writer's hat on concerning 'Pi' via this link). I loved these books and I didn't want the film to fall flat on it's face. Eventually I caved in, curiosity piqued, but I wasn't disappointed on any of these occasions. The books were very close to the films, and I felt they were very well done.
However, My Sister's Keeper was a huge, HUGE disappointment. **SPOILER** The film's ending was nowhere near the same as in the book and changed the whole story in my opinion. Bad move. I was dying with suspense, couldn't wait to see what the film makers would make of the car crash and twisted ending, and there was a lousy easy way out instead. JK Rowling is very involved in her Potter movie interpretations - I wonder how much say Jodi Picoult had over this debacle.
You have to remember that the media of film is very different, but can offer a whole other plethora of advantages - especially in terms of special effects and the soundtrack. There's books which didn't bring tears to my eyes, but the film of the same book made me blub. And that's a good thing for the film!
4. If it's a film written by European, African, Asian writer etc., don't let the American film giants ruin it
I'm no critic of Hollywood; I love a good blockbuster as much as the next person, but there is something to be said for smaller budget films. Especially if the film crew are a fan of the book. If there's an independent interpretation of the book, why not try the lesser beaten track and support smaller film production companies? This might save the story being puffed up and enhanced into massive action scenes and over-the-top production and effects, and stay more focussed on the story.
Failing all the above, just get a great big bag of Malteasers, find a nice date, and go to the cinema with an open mind. What's the worst that can happen?