Thursday, January 20, 2011

Loosely Adapted

Have you ever read a book and the whole time thought to yourself, this would make a great movie. I do it all the time...well all the time is an overstatement, but often the books that I find worth finishing, I think this. When I am done reading, I will think of who would be perfect to play each part. Most of the books I read eventually turn into movies, so it is always interested to see how I do. I remember reading The Time Traveler's Wife and having a really tough time casting it in my head, but ultimately, although they glossed over the complexity of the book, the casting was good. I wish I could say the same about My Sister's Keeper, but poor casting is the least of that movie's issues.

So I recently finished reading The Romantics, which is the first book in a while that I didn't want to put down. The story telling, the depth of insight into each character, the ability to connect to a place and time and feeling sucked me right in. I knew that this book had already been turned into a movie, one which although "star-studded", went straight to DVD. I knew that this movie herald such esteemed actors as Katie Holmes, Josh Duhamal, Adam Brody, Anna Paquin (who, once upon a time was a serious actress and while I'm on the subject Katie Holmes has some great flicks to her credit not to mention a stellar run on the beloved Dawson's Creek and yes, I am serious, so don't hate on the creek.) As I read, I was intrigued to see how these characters fit into this book and as I did my extensive research on IMDB, I found the casting off, with the exception of Josh Duhamal and they cut out, like, two major characters from the book! I know that Hollywood likes to take a little poetic justice and cut out seemingly insignificant details, but in hindsight they must look back and think, hmmm, that may have been important. I will watch this movie, just so I can complain about how this book was butchered...a past time that started in high school.

In high school, I had to read The Scarlet Letter. As I am sure many of you did. I loved, loved, loved this book. It was a literary soap opera and since then, when under pressure, I have always turned to this book for a writing topic. (ie Mass English Teaching Subject Test). But truly, I thought the book was genius and weren't we so excited, when shortly after reading the book, it was made into a "major motion picture" starring none other than Demi Moore as Hester Prynne. I don't remember the acting of whomever played the tortured Dimmesdale nor do I remember the villainous Chillingworth, which is sad because they were played by Gary Oldman and Robert Duvall. (I had to look that up).

This is what I did take away from this movie:

1. The director/producer/screenwriter took bits and pieces of The Scarlet Letter and The Crucible and melded them together as one god-awful "loosely adapted" presentation of an incredible piece of literature. *Sidenote, both of these stand quite well on their own accord, there was no reason to take Tituba out of The Crucible and send her over to The Scarlet Letter.

2. This was truly my first and ultimately that which I return to to say with complete certainty that the book is always better than the movie. Yes, I am sure there are expectations, but I can't think of one off the top of my head, so I am going to continue with this theory.

3. I don't remember Hester Prynne bathing herself in a seductive... corn? wheat? barley? bath while Tituba watched.

4. Nathaniel Hawthorne rolled over in his grave the day this movie debuted

It makes me wonder why I bother casting good books in my head and furthermore why I torture myself by watching someone else's casting and very loose adaptation.

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