The Thing with Book to Movie Adaptations

Let’s talk about Book to Movie(and TV show) adaptations today.

Imagine this. You read a great book and it is now one of your favourites. Once you’re done with it, you looked it up. You find that there’s a movie(or TV show, just assume I said TV show even if I don’t say it explicitly here on out) based on it and excitedly you clear your schedule and decide to watch it. Things can only go two ways from here.

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The first scenario is this: You watch the movie, it rocks your world and it was the best thing ever to see what was, till now, in your imagination come alive. It was exactly as you imagined and you were crying-laughing after. You recommend it to everyone you know and thank whoever you believe in for its existence.

The second scenario is this: You watch the movie and it is such a travesty to watch what you love and cherish so much be tarnished this badly. It is devastating and you swear off the movie and let everyone who will hear you know that the movie does not count.

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And in case you’re wondering, there is no middle ground. If you’re passionate enough about a book, you’re either obsessed with the movie or hate it, there is no in-between. The polarizing nature of the subject that is Book to Movie/TV adaptations is what makes them a bit of a controversial topic. It is also why we’ll discuss both the case for and the case against Book to Movie adaptations today and maybe if all goes well, you’ll at least have an understanding of the other point of view. Let’s begin with the case for Book to Movie adaptations and talk about why they such are a great thing.

The case for them is easy to get. You have a story, which is already written, already loved, already structured and broken down and already has a fanbase. All you have to do is adapt it to your medium. Not everyone likes to read or can read in the language of the original book, but movies and TV shows are a universal medium and subtitles can solve all those problems. If done well, it brings new fans to the books and brings a resurgence and major growth to the fanbase of the series. It allows for sequels and if you put in the effort, the people making it can earn a lot of money and fame and the fans can find a lot of gratification and joy, so everyone’s happy. If you make a great adaptation, the fans will keep the movies alive, elevate them to ‘cult’ status and make them a part of the ‘pop culture.’

I think the best example of a book to movie adaptation that has achieved this is the Harry Potter movies, which are not perfect but made people realise how lucrative this could be and paved the way for many future book adaptations. Other great movie adaptations are The Hunger Games movies, the Maze Runner movies, The Chronicles of Narnia and in a bit of an unpopular opinion, the Twilight movies. (I think they were great adaptations, I just don’t think they were that great books, Sorry Stephenie) The best TV adaptation that I have to mention is of the Song of Ice and Fire books,i.e Game of Thrones. (but only the initial seasons when they were actually adapting from the books, not what happened after)

The case against might either be very obvious to you or not obvious at all. (Depending on what adaptation you have watched, oops.) Adapting a story for celluloid or for a TV show is hard. You might have to modify structuring, add scenes or delete scenes and it is effort. There is also quite a lot of pressure because the books already have fans and those fans have certain expectations. If you do it wrong, those fans will let you know. it will be rejected, will tank and will earn hate and notoriety. It might even drive away fans; the movie might be so bad that people develop the wrong opinion that the books too, are not good and might end up missing out on what was a perfectly good book. Also as a reader, you develop a very personal relationship with a book and sometimes there’s a bit of possessiveness in that. You don’t want the book to become a ‘mainstream’ fanbase because it is yours and almost too sacred to be touched so you don’t want it to be adapted.

I think the prime example of a book to movie adaptation that has proved this is the movie adaptation of the Percy Jackson books, which was an utter and complete tragedy and only ever gave us Logan Lerman. (Thank god, they’re making a new TV show for the books now because the movies were just disrespectful) Other such movie adaptations are the Divergent books and the Mortal Instruments books. (I’ve heard the show is better but I’ve outgrown the series honestly, so haven’t watched it myself) The best (or rather actually worst) TV adaptation that I can think of is Thirteen Reasons Why. It was a thought-provoking, decent book which spoke of mental health and it ended up as a very dramatic social issue exposé which was just traumatising and attention-seeking.

So, by now, either you’ve picked a side or found more material to fuel your already set opinion, or hopefully, just understood both sides better. The bottom line with adaptations is this; if you do it well, a Book to Movie adaptation is a great, amazing thing but if you do it badly, it is disrespectful and sad. It’s all about finding the balance and bringing great stories to more people because stories are important and wonderful and in the words of Joan Didion, “We tell ourselves stories in order to live”.

THIS POST’S QUESTION: Are you for or against Book to Movie/TV show adaptations? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

17 thoughts on “The Thing with Book to Movie Adaptations

  1. Beautiful post, you know I enjoy reading more than watching the adaptations on screen except few movies as reading itself gives you a movie experience somewhere back in mind and thats the fun of reading.
    I liked your posts very much.
    Keep writing!📝😇

    Liked by 1 person

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