|Films made after books should be judged as own artform|
|Written by Lee Strubinger, Daily Vidette Reporter|
|Monday, 09 April 2012 15:44|
For the past decade, ever since the first “Harry Potter” film was released, a fair chunk of the movies produced are based off of best-selling novels.
Before the film hits the box office, a mad rush to read the book ensues, leading to the age-old debate: which is better, the book or the movie?
“I think a lot of people like to compare books and movies, and which one is better, or that the book is the original, instead of seeing them as different mediums that rely on different modes of story telling,” Elizabeth Hatmaker, English professor, said.
According to Hatmaker, the debate should not lie on which one may be better, but rather how each different work is successful or not.
“We kind of suppose that we can compare them in the same category,” Li Zeng, cinema studies professor, said. “Film is an adaptation [of the book]. The adaptation is another form of art.”
“It is not a surprise that a lot of films are adaptations of books because that is a long tradition,” she added. “Since the beginning of cinema 1910s and 1920s, there were a lot of films based on novels.”
This year is no different. Plenty of movies based on books have been released. “The Hunger Games” parade is taking over theaters, a trailer for Jack Kerouac’s novel “On the Road” has just been released, and a new version of “The Great Gatsby” is coming out on Christmas day. These are a few examples of the many movies coming out with roots in novels.
“One of the challenges film has always had is that films are much more expensive to make than books are to write,” Hatmaker said. “So if you are making a film, you got to have some idea that people will want to see it. So some books, particularly best sellers I would say more films are made from popular books than ‘great literature’ because it assumes that people will get really excited, and that [companies] can make a profit off of it. We see that with ‘The Hunger Games.’”
Hatmaker explained there are some novels that are better adapted to be a film than others.
“I don’t think they are ever going to be able to make a particularly effective ‘The Great Gatsby.’ That is a novel that everyone thinks is such a beautiful novel, that [filmmakers] are never really going to get ‘Gatsby’ right.”
“The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo,” according to Hatmaker, is weak writing in terms of literature, but the reader is encouraged to think visually, and it works well as a movie. The consumer is forced to think like filmmakers and not necessarily like readers.
Hatmaker also explained there are things that film can do that novels cannot. Each format deserves a great amount of respect and attention.
“Are there films where you saw something really beautiful, or terrifying, where you thought, ‘I would never be able to describe that in words?’” Hatmaker asked. “We pretend that films don’t have that. I think there are moments that you can’t quite capture in words. When you read a book, and it's beautiful and the language just pops. With film I think you have a similar experience. I do worry that we are not as patient with film, that we think it’s easier to watch. We are taught that at a very young age. Books are imaginative and creative. Movies and TV are passive.”