Sunday, August 19, 2018

Learning to Love Book to Movie Adaptations

Compilation of movie posters for To All The Boys I've Loved Before, Crazy Rich Asians, and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I've challenged myself to a monumental task for the end of the summer: learn how to appreciate book-to-movie adaptations for what they are.

I used to be the person who felt personally betrayed when a movie adaptation of a book I loved deviated even the tiniest bit from the original plot. I went on a rage-filled tweet storm after leaving the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II, because I could not comprehend how J.K. Rowling could allow someone to destroy her precious, iconic book. It got so bad that I couldn't enjoy the movie adaptation of any book I loved, because no matter how close it got to the original story, nothing was ever perfect.

This summer, one of my favorite books (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows) was adapted for Netflix, and I decided I was going to put aside all of my expectations and enjoy it, dammit!

When you're seeing someone else's interpretation of a thing you love, it's so easy to get caught up in what they do wrong. A character isn't as funny as they were in the book, or they don't look the way you imagined, or they cut out one of your favorite story lines. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking the director doesn't care about the story or didn't do their research or just wants to capitalize on the popularity of the thing and doesn't care about what fans truly want.

It's easy to forget that film adaptations have to work within different constraints. They don't get convenient chapter breaks to switch character perspectives. They typically don't have the luxury of sharing a characters entire internal monologue. They have to fit the entire story into a two-hour window. Each second of film, each actor portraying a character, each set location costs them money. All of this impacts how accurately the movie portrays the book.

This summer, there are a ton of new book that have come out: the Guernsey Literary movie, a movie adaptation of To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han, the movie version of Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan, the second season of Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale, the HBO miniseries of Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn...the list goes on and on.

Keep an eye on the blog over the next few weeks to hear my take on some of these adaptations and discover what I learn on my quest to enjoy movies based on books. In the meantime, check out my Instagram (@abbiereadsbooks) for a sneak peek at some of the things I've already watched!

Do you have any tips for keeping an open mind with book-to-movie adaptations? Or do you prefer your movie adaptations as close to the original story as possible? Let me know in the comments!

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