Friday, June 6, 2008

Page to Screen...

I had the weirdest dream last night. I was riding in a van--not a luxury van, either, but something very like the vinyl-bench seats of the pistachio green army van in which I spent an interminable 12 hours driving through West Texas on the way to Fort Bliss--and I was sitting next to Alexis Bledel. Totally random. We were talking about books and I told her about the Maggie Quinn books, and she said she really wanted to read them because she heard that one of the characters (D&D Lisa) kind of looks like her. Which was weird, because nobody knows that but me. She asked if the characters was a good guy or a bad guy, and I said, she’s not so much good or bad as she is complicated.

So she was like, send me the books, and I’m like, sure, and I'm totally, freakishly calm about it. And then I woke up.

This may come from the fact that movies from books have been on my mind, as they are making a movie of one of our DFWWW workshop member’s books. (Ginnie Bivona is just an awesome, interesting lady. She just got back from visiting the set, and how cool is that.)

Also, I just watched The Seeker, which is the movie they made from one of my favorite books, The Dark Is Rising. They changed 99% of the things that make that book so awesome: the essential Englishness of the story and the characters, the Celtic mythology on which the tales are based, the awesome shades of grey that make the secondary characters so interesting. I did enjoy seeing Christopher Eccleston chewing scenery as the Dark Rider, and there were a couple of visuals that were neat to see realized on the screen. (Specifically this image, from the cover of the book. It was the one thing they really got right. Which isn’t saying much.)

Generally I’m pretty easy going about book to movie changes, because there are things that work on the page better than on the screen. However, when you change the essential nature of characters, major plot points, and elements of the entire fantasy premise, it ceases to become an adaptation and becomes something new that borrows a couple of elements from the original. Like I, Robot (the one with Will Smith), it’s something you might have enjoyed if they didn’t try to sell it to you as something you loved.

That’s Hollywood for you. Are we crazy for wanting that for our books?

That said, sometimes I enjoy a movie more than a book. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was that way. It was missing some of my favorite book things (like Weasley is Our King), but it was also missing the interminable angst in Harry’s head. I suspect I’m going to like the Twilight movie better than the books, for similar reasons.

What about you guys? Ever see a movie adaptation you liked better than the source material?

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