I once read a funny article about books-turned-movies and the anxiety that comes with it. The article pointed out that once the first trailer is released with the phrase “based on the [best-selling] novel,” there is a mad rush to get your hands on the book and tear through the pages in time for the movie’s release. You can then be entitled to the greatly concerned “I just hope they stay true to the book” prior to the movie’s release, and, of course, the knowing “well, that part was different in the book” after.
Yes, we all know this smug viewer. Probably most of us have once been this smug viewer once or twice, myself included. In fact, I refuse to watch any of the Harry Potter movies with other people, because I think I would lose friends. With the increasing number of books turned movie, it is becoming more and more frequent that the car ride home from the theater is spent discussing casting choices (“It’s just not how I pictured her looking. She’s not supposed to be that pretty.”), plot holes (“well, they go into much more depth in the book.”), and of course, emphasizing again and again, that “it was good, but the book was still better.”
Still, there is something positive that comes from this process: people are reading. In my opinion, this can only be seen as a good thing. Especially looking at the number of young adult books that have recently transitioned to the big screen: The Hunger Games, Jane Eyre, The Adventures of Tintin, Twilight (ok, we could probably do without the last one). I think everyone can agree that it is extremely important to keep young audiences reading for obvious reasons, so hopefully these recent releases have attracted the younger crowd back to the books. In fact, according to an article in the New York Times, young readership is much higher now than it was 20 years ago (the growing popularity of e-readers could have something to do with this, but that is a whole other topic).
I don’t mean to say that I think every movie should be made into a book to get people to read it. Of course there are those who pick up a book, consider reading it, but ultimately decide that they will just “wait for the movie.” That is the real travesty. The thought of someone bypassing the experience to read The Great Gatsby in favor of just seeing the movie makes me sad. Yes, I know I sound like that smug viewer, but I don’t mean to be. I’ve read it three times, twice for school, and once for pleasure, and I loved it more when I read it for school, because it’s fascinating to pick apart sentence by sentence. And the director they have working on it kind of weirds me out. Also the Where the Wild Things Are movie was just a disaster. Like, way to taint my childhood by turning a simple, beloved book into some weird, maybe-political–or-maybe-social–I-couldn’t-tell statement that just went over my head and bummed me out. The only thing true to the book was the monsters’ appearance, which as actually spot-on.
But overall, I’d say I’m pro books-turned-movies. Anything that keeps people reading is fine by me. Plus, I’m a very visual person. And, ok, yeah I definitely will go see The Great Gatsby in theaters the day it comes out.