I think this could be a potentially divisive topic. I would imagine that most of us book lovers enjoy seeing new content being produced of our favorite books even if that includes a movie.
However, a movie often leaves out major plot points due to time constraints, changes the narrative, or modifies a character’s personality so much that they become a stranger to the person you connected with in the original story.
So, yay or nay?
Many times movies become so vastly popular that they can overshadow the original books. Even to the extent that movie quotes and book quotes can get confused. Take The Lord of the Rings for instance. There are many beautiful quotes from the movies that are not originally Tolkien’s words. To drive home the point, there are several quotes that I find on Goodreads that people have added thinking Tolkien wrote them when, in fact, he never did. Moreover, the actual wording often had a completely different meaning than what Tolkien originally intended.
This mistaken identity of attributing the quote above to Tolkien’s novels is an egregious error to Tolkien’s own ideals and characterizations of Sam’s morality.
“War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend: the city of the Men of Númenor; and I would have her loved for her memory, her ancientry, her beauty, and her present wisdom. Not feared, save as men may fear the dignity of a man, old and wise.”
This is not just longer, but it also conveys an idea that is rather different from the idea presented in the film – what Faramir, and implicitly Tolkien, says is that there are good things that must be defended against “a destroyer who [would] devour all”, and that this defense may, regrettably, involve fighting for it (“I do not slay man or beast needlessly, and not gladly even when it is needed.” – Faramir again). It is not that there are good things worth fighting for, but that there are evil things that must be fought, but not by any means (a victory by using the Master Ring is, for instance, not worth it).
Overall I very much get the impression that Peter Jackson does indeed love the bright sword for its sharpness, the arrow for its swiftness and above all the warrior for his glory, but he cares little for the memory, the ancientry, beauty and present wisdom of Minas Tirith, and this statement by Sam is a part of that impression – it is far too unqualified for Tolkien, who doesn’t quite approve of the Rohirric love for the battle.
With respect to Sam, specifically, he, like Frodo, had an instant and deep distaste for fighting, and it would be far more correct for Tolkien’s Samwise (who is a completely different character from Jackson’s Sam) to say that “there are some good things that are worth suffering for.“**
And how about Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’s interpretation of Professor Dumbledore? I’m sure you’ve seen many memes attributing to this failed characterization of our beloved Albus. As it was portrayed in the movie, Dumbledore flies toward Harry, practically throwing him off balance in the process, yelling at him whether or not he put his name in the cup.
In the book, however, it clearly states he asked Harry “calmly.”
But not all movies will misinterpret a character or stray from the author’s original ideals. Take The Hunger Games for instance. That movie brought this dystopian to life. It literally plucked how I envisioned District 12 straight from my head and plopped it on to the big screen all the way down to the muted colors and numerous silences. Even the look of all the residents of the Capitol with their bizarre fashions was very similar to the descriptions that were given in the novel.
Jennifer Lawrence was also a perfect representation of Katniss. With being in the arena, Katniss didn’t voice aloud her feelings for her predicament solely for the sake of not giving away her position to any incoming enemies. It’s just like in the book that emphasized internal dialogue. So, Jennifer Lawrence had to express this fear, paranoia and doubt through expressions rather than the spoken word. I really could not have asked for a better adaptation of this book.
Altogether, I would argue that there are pros and cons to book to movie adaptations. I can completely understand why someone would get hesitant when they hear their favorite book is becoming a movie while at the same time understand why another fan would get immensely excited at the prospect.
What are your thoughts on these adaptations?
Do you prefer the book? Would you go so far as to wish the movie never existed?
Until next time, friend!
**This is a direct passage from a forum on lotrplaza.com by Troelsfo in January 2014. I literally could not have said this better myself. Click on the passage to be taken to the link to read the entire thread. It’s really quite good!
NOTE: All gifs shown were created by me, but feel free to use wherever (just don’t claim as your own)!