The Book Turned Into A Movie

Did you ever watch a movie based on the book and walk out disappointed.  We all have and we are left feeling that the Writer and Director was not faithful to the book.  Have you ever tried to write a script from a movie?  I have and let me tell you it can be a daunting task.  I tried to turn my Dad’s book, “The Stain on Caitria” into a movie, because he wanted me to make an attempt at it.  Part of the struggle is figuring out what stays and what doesn’t to make the movie fall into the 2 hour to 2 and half hour realm.  The second struggle is you’re essentially taking a classic piece of art and ripping it to shreds leaving stuff out, that the writer might be offended by.  I don’t think I did this book justice.  My Dad was pretty insistent that I leave most of it as is.  I didn’t have much wiggle room.  However; that is another story for another time.
davincicodeThere can be a real problem for a screenwriter when turning a book into a movie.  The biggest problem is remaining faithful to the reader.  That’s a daunting task.  However, I’d like to defend us a little.  The movie goer is far too critical.  It is not easy being faithful to the book.  I had no problem with the Da Vinci code, because it did remain relatively faithful to the book, my problem was that Tom Hanks should never had played the lead.  Sorry Mr. Hanks, but my visual image of that character was not you.  Then again, vision was not the vision of the Director or the Writer.  They had Tom Hanks in mind, so they wrote it to cater him.  You know what? That’s okay, just as it’s okay to cut parts of the book out to provide the audience with your vision.
What the book reading movie goer doesn’t understand is that the movie from the book is always going to be different.  Read the Wizard of Oz sometime and then watch the movie.  Is it exactly the same?  No, not by a long shot.  There was a whole chapter left out of that book.  I remember, I read the book and started freaking out.  As I got older, I calmed down over it and the movie is still a classic in my mind without that chapter.  Another reason that the movie is going to be different than the book is that books, give you all the senses while you’re reading.  Movies give you the visual and sound and paint that picture that you read in the book, whether you agree with it or not.  It’s a visual concept and even the theme can change, which is usually one Director’s interpretation.  It’s like a movie goer’s interpretation.  What you see and what you feel is not going to be what the person next to you sees or feels as they are watching the same movie.  That’s what’s great.  It would be boring if we all saw the same thing and all got the same emotion from it.

So the next time you go see a movie based on a book, think of how hard that writer had to work to put that script together.  If he had written a script word for word, we’d have an awful lot of five hour movies on our hands and in today’s, world of the five second attention span, that’s something that would drive most people away from the movies.  Quite frankly, it would me too.  As for me, I have a few more attempts as this novel thing in the works.  One is an unbiased account on Richard The Third, based on the book by Paul Murray Kendall.  The second is William Goldman’s Temple of Gold.  I hope I can do both of them justice.  And maybe, just maybe, I will take a stab at my Dad’s second book, The Making Of Daniel, which I believe lends itself far more to the screen than his first book does.