Black Women Writers @ Southwestern University

An English / Feminist Studies / Race & Ethnicity Studies Course Blog

Movie/Book Combos

4 Comments

I wanted to talk about something a little more simple tonight. Being that I was not in class today, I was not able to finish the movie with y’all in class, which of course I am very upset about. Nonetheless, I had seen enough. Meaning that I have seen enough of movies not getting it right. I do think that the movie The Color Purple was good, but I truly felt that something was missing. I think that not a lot was cut from the movie, but the order of things was just a little off, don’t you think?

I especially think that the relationship between Shug and Celie was downplayed heavily in the movie compared to the book. Their first encounter they had together was much less explicit in the movie rather than the book, this includes not only their intimate relationship, but also their friendship. I think that of course this has to happen (insert sarcasm) though because of the time the movie was produced. During this time period, female relationships were not socially accepted, so this would make sense as to why Spielberg had to produce the movie the way he did, but that does not make it right. I would be offended if I were Walker. She wrote about these things for a reason, because they happened, no matter what the public thinks or not. She is trying to shed light on this fact. I don’t know, maybe I am taking it too personal, but if I wrote a novel and wanted certain aspects to stand out, I certainly would not want anything to be downplayed or cut from the film at all.

On that note, it seems that most of the time this is how the world NOW works, probably not so much back then (that the general public would much rather see the movie over reading the book). One does not get the FULL story, quite literally actually, if they just watch the movie. SO many things are cut out people!! READ!

For example, just to give an easier distinction for people who will have most likely either seen or read these young adult books: books such as Twilight, The Hunger Games, Water For Elephants, Lovely Bones, Harry Potter, Fifty Shades Of Grey (yes judge me), Gone Girl, Beautiful Creatures, Friday Night Lights etc.. most all of these book/movies will have left something out, or even added something in because that is, I am assuming, Hollywood’s way of making money, or making a statement of some kind.

For those of you who have not read or seen these movies here is my opinion of them: Lovely Bones is probably the only one that I will say that the movie is better, other than that the books of these book/movie combos, the books are better. Which is usually what happens ALL the time. I think that the general public already knows this, and I know that not everyone has time to sit down and read (which is probably another reason this day and age people just succumb to watch the movie), but reading is obviously better probably 99.8% of the time. 🙂 I know I am also biased because I am an English major, but I usually read the book and then see the movie, and there are even some movies out there that I refuse to see because I have not read the book yet. This is just me and my humble opinion, so take it as you wish. 🙂

Also, random thought: Big Hero 6 is a GREAT film. It is so cute!! I highly recommend it! I am sad to say that I did not know that it was comic book before it was a film, but I am not too into comic books, so this is why I did not hear about it. I will get on that though, reading the comic book!

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4 thoughts on “Movie/Book Combos

  1. I agree that movies that are based off of a book are generally a poorer, watered down version of the story. Its gotten to the point that if I hear that a book is being made into a movie, I get really sad inside, whine a little and get disappointed for the author selling out. But then I probably end up seeing it anyway because I loved the story so much. Even though Hollywood does tend to take a book and run with it, generally overblowing the ending and making it very effusive, but that isn’t the full reason that countless adaptations have failed the translation from book to movie. Movies oftentimes leave so much out from the novel (and believe you me, I have SO much fun pointing out the inaccuracies), but I also know that, in all honesty, it would be impossible to perfectly translate a book into a movie. There is so much narrative that books straight up tell the reader, highlighting specific parts of the narrative that a visual medium such as movies can only convey. We can get an idea of their importance, but learning why they are important, as well as feeling the value of it, is much more difficult in a movie. Additionally, the internal dialogue that we are so often provided with in novels is not there in a movie; sure, directors implement voice-overs and dialogue in order to tell the audience the important stuff, but they don’t have that constant stream of internal dialogue that slowly builds up over time and has a tangible effect upon the reader’s reaction to the book.
    Since I’m talking so much about translating a story from one medium to another, I want to bring up a piece of theory from my translation class this semester. The one foundational piece of theory that we learned near the beginning was that there is never a perfect translation. Both languages (or in this case, medias) go about conveying a message in completely different manners. They highlight different things, tell them in a different manner, and have different frames of reference for words and phrases which cannot translate. If the translator were able to get the entire meaning across perfectly, it would be pointless because they would be speaking the same language. In order to get the same message across, the translator has to make a decision on whether he wants to do a macro or micro translation. A micro translation (Which is what you’re thinking of) translates a message word-for-word and a book scene-for-scene. While this is far more desirable for bookworms, it simply isn’t cost or time-effective. Nor would we like it anyway, 9 times out of 10, because we have a fantasy in our heads that we personally connect with that has very specific meaning to us, but would not for other people. So getting all the scenes to fit everyone’s imagination of that scene of the novel would be impossible. Its much better for a movie to make its own adaptation of a movie, using a macro translation approach. A macro translation seeks to convey the meaning and emotion to the reader/ audience. So it may not have all the key information and background that the original medium has, but it uses the information of the translated medium and its background to get the basic message and the same emotional response, in the case of movies.
    I would like to add one more thought to this post and say that

  2. I agree that movies that are based off of a book are generally a poorer, watered down version of the story. Its gotten to the point that if I hear that a book is being made into a movie, I get really sad inside, whine a little and get disappointed for the author selling out. But then I probably end up seeing it anyway because I loved the story so much. Even though Hollywood does tend to take a book and run with it, generally overblowing the ending and making it very effusive, but that isn’t the full reason that countless adaptations have failed the translation from book to movie. Movies oftentimes leave so much out from the novel (and believe you me, I have SO much fun pointing out the inaccuracies), but I also know that, in all honesty, it would be impossible to perfectly translate a book into a movie. There is so much narrative that books straight up tell the reader, highlighting specific parts of the narrative that a visual medium such as movies can only convey. We can get an idea of their importance, but learning why they are important, as well as feeling the value of it, is much more difficult in a movie. Additionally, the internal dialogue that we are so often provided with in novels is not there in a movie; sure, directors implement voice-overs and dialogue in order to tell the audience the important stuff, but they don’t have that constant stream of internal dialogue that slowly builds up over time and has a tangible effect upon the reader’s reaction to the book.
    Since I’m talking so much about translating a story from one medium to another, I want to bring up a piece of theory from my translation class this semester. The one foundational piece of theory that we learned near the beginning was that there is never a perfect translation. Both languages (or in this case, medias) go about conveying a message in completely different manners. They highlight different things, tell them in a different manner, and have different frames of reference for words and phrases which cannot translate. If the translator were able to get the entire meaning across perfectly, it would be pointless because they would be speaking the same language. In order to get the same message across, the translator has to make a decision on whether he wants to do a macro or micro translation. A micro translation (Which is what you’re thinking of) translates a message word-for-word and a book scene-for-scene. While this is far more desirable for bookworms, it simply isn’t cost or time-effective. Nor would we like it anyway, 9 times out of 10, because we have a fantasy in our heads that we personally connect with that has very specific meaning to us, but would not for other people. So getting all the scenes to fit everyone’s imagination of that scene of the novel would be impossible. Its much better for a movie to make its own adaptation of a movie, using a macro translation approach. A macro translation seeks to convey the meaning and emotion to the reader/ audience. So it may not have all the key information and background that the original medium has, but it uses the information of the translated medium and its background to get the basic message and the same emotional response, in the case of movies.

    • I really enjoyed your comment! Thanks!! I also agree 100% that there is no possible way that with a movie duration ranging anywhere from 1 1/2 hours-3 1/2 to even 4 hours, that a movie will be just like its coupling book. I understand that. I just always wish, ya know? I think that you’re right that the movie wouldn’t ever be able to perfectly fabrication of what our, let’s say, imagination brings us from the character(s) of a book. For instance, the way they dress, act and most importantly the way they look like in our minds. When these characters that we imagined don’t match up to that of the movies, we tend to get disappointed. I also really enjoy your point about translations, because yes it would be impossible for a translator to get it all right, even if the delivering of a piece is perfect. If that makes sense. Love it!

  3. Here is a reading that I found that gives some facts about why movies aren’t as good as books.
    http://www.wisegeek.org/why-are-books-always-better-than-the-movie-versions.htm
    It isn’t such intellectually stimulating as this conversation, just fyi, but it does bring up some good points.

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