Book vs Film: I Pick the Story

There’s a lot of talk out there about book versus film. People crave the chance to see their favorite stories turned into movies, but then turn around and criticize the creative decisions or license taken by the director. Fandoms are hard to please and even harsher critics. And yet, books keep getting turned into movies.

For me, the opportunity to relive a beloved story on-screen is a fantastic experience. While I certainly more often prefer the book to the movie, I have a great deal of respect for the work involved in turning a book into a film and I enjoy comparing and contrasting the two versions.

When people get frustrated with the film adaptation, I don’t think they consider the change in medium and what that means. An author is limited only by his or her imagination, while a director or a film company is limited by what technology can do and their budget. Sometimes this means that things get changed or left out, but I do believe that all involved parties have the story and the viewer’s best interests at heart.

I’m fascinated by the different interpretations a director has regarding how a character looks dresses or sounds. Sometimes characters appear nothing like I imagine them. Literature is subject to interpretation. It’s one of the things that makes the study of books and storytelling so great! But, this is traditionally, too, a major point of contention for most fanatics.

Last weekend, my boyfriend and I went to see the film adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time. Madeleine L’Engle was one of my favorite authors as a child, and while A Wrinkle in Time wasn’t my favorite of her series, it was a fabulous book and I was jazzed to see the work reimagined on-screen.

Seeing L’Engle’s work on-screen was a culmination of a couple of things. First, it means that technology has progressed enough that filmmakers can do more to realize what authors imagined in their writing. They can take that writing and turn it into pictures. Secondly, the adaptation of this story (and many other fantasy and sci-fi works) is a source of validation. When I was a kid, reading fantasy was associated with being a nerd or a loser. I read fantasy with a vengeance and little else for a very long time. I was also a big book nerd and the recipient of a lot of teasing, too. Day in and out for an entire school year I was teased mercilessly and every night I’d go to bed and cry. I identified heartily with Meg Murray and many of the other characters who fall into that same vein. Seeing those stories I have loved and read numerous times brought into the mainstream brings about so many feelings. Sometimes its hard to believe that fantasy is a part of the mainstream now and not something to worry about being teased for loving. I felt this way when the first of the Hobbit movies came out as well as Ender’s Game.

More than this, as a creative writing student, I recall being told that Fantasy wasn’t a respectable genre to write. I took those lessons to heart and didn’t write or read fantasy for a long time. As I’ve gotten farther away from my college days, I’eve come back around to the genre and now I read and write Fantasy along with whatever genre comes to me.

I like to believe that the days of putting someone down for the things they enjoy are gone. The advent of post (and post-post) modernism and the internet may have allowed us to celebrate the rise of the individual. We can create and disseminate what we want through self publishing. And many of us can find a small niche audience or fellow fans. But there is still something to be said for the mainstream and pop culture. And to see our genre making waves in this world is special and validating.

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