Six Impossible Things

A Blog About Fiction and Reading

Books and Movies

In the 5-1-06 issue of Booklist, there's an interview with Carl Hiaasen, where he talks, in part, about the movie version of Hoot.  I like Hiaasen, and loved Hoot, but there was a quote from the interview that caught my attention:

BKL: How much creative input did you have [on the movie]?
HIAASEN: I was involved a lot.  They sent me every single draft of the script, and I would make notes in the margins and give plot and dialogue suggestions.  By necessity, the movie can't be identical to the novel.

I'm struck by the "By necessity, the movie can't be identical to the novel" portion of the quote, partly because I don't understand it.  Hoot was a bestseller (and, I might add, a Newbery honor book) because of the plot, dialogue, and characters, and I would think that anyone going to see the movie would want to see it done as honestly and faithfully as possible.  I know I would, but maybe I'm the odd one out.

Holes was another kids'-book-transformed-into-a-movie book, and I thought that the movie was a faithful adaptation to the book.  Stanley wasn't fat at the beginning of the movie, as he was in the book, but I was able to forgive that for the necessities of making a movie.  The actor wasn't fat, and the makeup to make him look that way would, I think, have detracted from the illusion of the story.  Other than that, though, the story maintained the same plot and direction as the book.  Louis Sachar didn't seem to feel that there was a necessity to change any elements of the main plot to make it a successful movie.

On the other hand, I read something in the paper this weekend about The Da Vinci Code, where Dan Brown said pretty much the same thing Hiaasen did.  There were some changes, apparently to keep the portion of the audience who had read the book from growing bored with the predictability of the movie.  I don't know how I feel about that.  What I liked about the book was the plot, the action, and the conspiracy; how stupid am I that I need something changed up to keep me interested in a movie version of a good book?

Then there's The Lord of the Rings, which is a faithful adaptation of the Tolkien novels, but changes some things about.  The songs are gone, Tom Bombadil is missing (thank goodness), and the chronology is mixed up a bit, but the main plot remains the same.  I think that had Peter Jackson kept the movies identical to the books, then the audiences would have grown bored.  So, I guess, the changes were by necessity.

Am I too traditional, or do I expect too much from Hollywood?  I expect a lot from the books I read, and from the movies that I watch, but is it too much to ask that the movies remain faithful to the books from which they were adapted?  Frank Darabont did it with The Green Mile, and both the books and the movie were successful.  I don't think there's any necessity involved with changing things from the books to the movies.

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May 17, 2006 - Posted by | General

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