I just read an article in the Guardian about the movie adaptation of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl. I have not read this particular book, but as a reader, I found the article very disheartening. The author herself felt the story needed to be changed for the movie, completely scrapped the ending, and wrote a new one. Um, WHAT?! Did I read that correctly? Was I hallucinating? I really wish I was, but on the other hand I feel like I've finally gotten some insight into why I am so frequently disappointed by movie adaptations.
It seems what filmmakers (and general audiences) feel makes a *good movie* is sometimes independent of the original source material. As a reader, I have a movie playing in my head when I read a book. As a reader, I can imagine how a book would come to life on the screen. As a reader, I never think anything would need to be changed to make a great book into a *good movie.* I always hope that filmmakers will work their magic and simply express the author's vision in a different medium. As it turns out, I am a hopelessly naive bookworm when it comes to such things.
When I read in the article that the director of Gone Girl felt he "held too close to the source material" for his previous adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo citing that as a reason for low box office performance, I nearly fell out of my chair. Admittedly, I haven't read that book (or seen the movie) either, but holding close to the original source material is all I ever want in a movie adaptation, so to hear such a sentiment expressed damn near broke my heart. HOW can keeping too close to a story already loved by many make a movie worse? As a reader, that simply does not make any sense to me. I have never gone to the movies and walked out saying, "You know, it would have been so much better if they changed more stuff from how it was in the book." I mean, that's just crazy, right?
So I guess it is time to accept once and for all that movies made from books are not really for the avid book fans. Filmmakers (understandably) see them as an art-form all their own. I think it is fair to say that oftentimes they look at a book and see what it could be rather than what it already is, at least to some extent. That really does make me sad, but perhaps I can finally learn to manage my expectations. Perhaps I can just be pleasantly surprised when an adaptation does keep very closely to the story instead of setting myself up for failure every time I buy a movie ticket.
How do you feel about movies based on books? Does it bother you when things have been changed from the original story?