It’s a truth that for much of the books that are made into movies, many of them simply don’t measure up when comparing it to the written form, even according to the authors of the stories. Sure, there are some movies that turn out terrific, even with error, such as the movie The Color Purple, the book written by Alice Walker or we can even talk about the most recent Marvel release that is now reaching a billion worldwide, Black Panther, which started out as a 1960s comic book. Books to film such as these are exceptions to the horrible book to movie adaptation rule, however, there are some authors who just ultimately failed to enjoy seeing their books on screen, and there are many reasons why.
NUMBER ONE: CHARACTER CONNECTION
It’s fair to say that if one doesn’t connect well with another, the relationship with the two won’t be great at all. That goes with anything – a car and seats, a man and woman, foot and a shoe, and even a taste bud and a sauce. They must gel in order to work well together. They must understand each other or the makers of it must understand that a square can’t fit into a triangular hole of the same size. But whatever. Point is, if the actors don’t know how to bring out what is necessary visually with what was written in the book, meaning that they must have read the book, then there will be a huge lag in character development on screen versus in the book.
This in itself can cause a total character flop and really get under the authors skin, whether the movie ends up a success or not. Authors tend to love…literally love…their characters. To change them, from accent to gait and even laugh, is an outright sin. Be damned.
NUMBER TWO: TIME RESTRICTIONS
Novels are over two hundred pages long and scripts are about a hundred pages full of nothing but dialog. For the most part, movies are under or right at two hours long. It’s basically a contract of give me what is needed and also give me the good stuff and let’s run with this as it seems this will make the most successful movie from this book in two hours. It’s all about the math when it comes to movies versus books, and the one thing a book doesn’t have on it is a time restriction. Unfortunately, with this time restriction, some of the most powerful parts of a book, character or scene are tossed out. It is these parts that if the wrong one is taken out, could hit a movie hard and just cause the author to walk out of the viewing never to return again.
NUMBER THREE: DIRECTOR
So, many times the author has nothing to do with what is going on on set. That, I feel, is a mistake. I believe firmly that if an author is in some sort of communication with the director, maybe just maybe, the book to movie adaptations would go much smoother. Sure, the director is king or queen of his set, calling the shots, and even actors are calling some shots as well, but what if they have it all wrong? The one person who knows a character and scene from the inside and out, from its alpha and omega is the author – the original creator. Everything from mood to consistency is key to providing a well rounded book to movie adaptation, therefore, having a director that is open to what the author has to say about the creation is key to getting most of the visual, background and mood in a movie right. After all, not everything is written in a script. I’ve heard tales of a movie ripping apart a book so bad that even the author hates it, but one must admit that many of the movies, such as the original Mary Poppins and The Shining went on to become memorable to audiences and great.
I believe that authors are directors of their written work and directors are king of their production, and this is where a power struggle ensues. Visions can be totally different.
NUMBER FOUR: BAD CASTING
Bad casting is just what it is – bad. Some actors are talented but just don’t bring out what is needed in a character which makes it all not worth it. Need I say more than that? Any author would be completely pissed. Let me point out a completely different casting altogether – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory written by Roald Dahl. The main character, Charlie Bucket, was a black boy in the book, but in casting, the casting directors etc felt it was best to make Charlie a white boy as they felt Charlie wouldn’t be accepted by audiences at that time. This book suffered much controversy from not just Charlie, but the Oompa Loompas. I could go on and on but read for yourself here.
Anyway, when an author feels that someone won’t portray their character right or doesn’t in any way look like the oversized, mean giant from the book but a gentle one in the movie, it can really bite.
NUMBER FIVE: THE SCRIPT
It’s not that the movies are altogether bad post book adaptation, but it seems the issue with the authors lies when they have to sit back and watch others “incorrectly” choose which parts of the book to adapt ie what to leave out of the movie and what to put in it, even after input from them. Instead of choosing to go with author input or the book itself, many times directors and script writers lean on specific audiences that determine what should be tossed or changed versus what should be kept.
It is this that can also tick an author. Now you see why some sequels never manifest. We don’t even want to talk about how some scripts just change the book altogether. Talk about a ticked author. Imagine them screaming “This is NOT my book!” at the screen.
Those are just a few elements of mass destruction when it comes to the destruction of a book to film adaptation for authors who work endlessly on a masterpiece only to be told it’s not right for film. In many cases, this is true, however. Some books must be altered much to be embraced by the public. However, others need to truly be left alone. In the latter cases, the author can sit back and say, “I told you so.”