Ahhhh, what is it about vacations? No matter how long or short they are, we always come back exhausted?
I just finished reading It's King of a Funny Story. This is one of my son's favorite books, and was recently made into a movie. I made the mistake of watching the movie before I read the book. Always, always read the book first!
The movie was fine, but, as always, the book was better. Ned Vizzini's heartrending, yet funny tale of a 15 year boy who checks himself into a mental hospital is a story that should be taught in colleges as an example of excellent modern day literature. The movie...well, the movie cut out a good bit of the heart and a whole lot of the intent of the book.
Now, according to my son, the film adaptation of this book is not nearly as awful as the one for his other favorite book, Youth in Revolt. I read that book, the journals of one Nick Twisp, and believe that, too, should be taught in colleges. And perhaps touched upon in parenting classes. But the movie, which I have not seen, but the Boy child has, apparently is terrible.
Which brings up the age old question: Do writers really want their books made into movies?
Hey, if someone wanted to make Dream in Color into a movie, I would do a gigantic dance of joy. And then I would probably be one of those writers who does something stupid, like sign away my control of the story. Which would then mean that Ramona will become some sort of streetwalker with a heart of gold, Neil is some business mogul out to blow up the universe, and Jesse is a reformed CIA agent...or something like that.
I've seen so many versions of my favorite book, Wuthering Heights, made and remade, it makes my head spin. How could someone get that story wrong? And yet, with all due respect to Lawrence Olivier, his version of that book is particularly stupid and unwatchable. I don't care if it won an Oscar. It's fairly terrible and I have to believe that if Emily Bronte were alive to see it, she would have pitched a fairly sturdy fit.
How about just about every single Harry Potter movie EVER?
I think we all agree...the book is ALWAYS better. Well, except for Moby Dick. In that case, the movies, no matter how bad, are WAY BETTER.
So, as writers, should we even think about the possibility of our books on the screen? TV or Movies, it doesn't seem to matter...the end result is generally not great. But movies reach more people, I believe, than books. (Sorry...but I've seen infinitely more movies than I've read books, and I've read hundreds of books in my life.) Movies might generate interest in a book that's been forgotten, or missed.
Besides, I get the feeling some days, as I watch movies like "The Hangover II" come out, that screen writers really do need our help. This is not a slander on screen writers. But seriously...do we really need "The Hangover II"? What ground can a second movie possibly cover that wasn't done in the first movie?
Yeah, I'll be skipping that one. Instead, I'll be hitting the newest incarnation of Jane Eyre and see how it measures up to one of the best books ever written.