Unless you’ve been living in a dark cave on Mars for the last few months you’ll probably have heard/seen all the hullabaloo about the big screen summer blockbuster World War Z. Before you read any further I’ll state right now this is not going to be one of those posts where I drone on and on about how the movie was nothing like the book, how the director and movie making people raped a very good story and created junk, and how much I detest that sort of stuff.
To quote Icona Pop: “I don’t care! I love it!”
I read Max Brooks World War Z over 5 years ago and loved it. And when rumours started circling about a movie version I began to drool like a zombie.
I love zombies.
I suspected the movie probably wouldn’t be much like the book because it wouldn’t make for an edge of the seat, thrill-a-minute, roller-coaster ride sort of movie.
But that doesn’t matter. With Brad Pitt staring it was obvious a lot of money would be thrown at the production and I looked forward to epic action zombie goodness. If you’re a fan of zombies how can you fail to get excited about a vast horde of the undead swarming like rapid ants up a giant wall?
Okay, I admit I was looking forward to the Battle of Yonkers because it would have been awesome to see that on the big screen. But the zombies hordes attacking the walls of Jerusalem was just as entertaining. Even the concept art for those scenes is pretty stunning.
Book v Movie? Well done on wasting everyone’s time.
Big round of applause to every movie critic for figuring out the movie wasn’t the same as the book. Oh yes. You’re so smart for pointing that out to us morons. Oh and congratulations for wasting 2 minutes of your 5 minute review by talking about the damn book!<end sarcasm>
Way too many critics love to compare a book to the movie adaptation, but it amazes me why they bother. I want to see a movie critic review the MOVIE as a stand alone thing. I’m not interested in their opinion on whether it’s faithful to the book (and I’m sure plenty of other people feel the same) because they’re two different mediums.
I don’t remember ever seeing the words BOOK CRITIC next to their name on any website with the word MOVIE in the logo.
Why do they waste valuable screen/page time banging on about the same weary topic? Not everyone has read the book of the movie so why waste their time? Movie critics should stick to just that – review the actual movie. Full stop. Period. End of.
I get the feeling movie critics like to bang on about book/movie infidelities because they think it makes them look smart. You can clearly see that patronising smile and I-spotted-every-single-mistake glint in their eye when they start saying stuff like: “It’s not faithful to the book” or “I’ve heard Author Joe Watshisname isn’t happy with this adaptation” and the all the usual classics that every other movie critic is also spouting to make them look intelligent.
That’s why I like Mark Kermode. He cuts through the bullshit and gives quality reviews on movies without becoming a sheep and following what other critics are saying.
Books and moving pictures are different, didn’t you know?
One is made up of lots of words that enable our imaginations to create visuals, the other is a sequence of images created by a director/screenwriter/producer etc based on their interpretation using their own unique visual style.
Take Cloud Atlas as an example (one of the best books I’ve ever read, I thoroughly recommend it) it has a beautiful story, rich characters, amazing dialogue and a plot that kept me turning the page.
Before I saw the movie I was keen to see how any director could make it work as the plot is kinda messed up and not easy to recreate in a visual way that would make sense.
However, I thought the movie was extremely well done. There were obvious differences but that doesn’t mean the movie was crap. I enjoyed it for what it was – an entertaining, visually stunning, beautiful movie.
As I was the only one of my friends who had read the book, I couldn’t help but say stuff like: “That didn’t happen like that in the book” despite feeling myself cringe as the words came out.
If, like me, you read Cloud Atlas before seeing the movie, maybe you appreciated and understood some of the dialogue in the distant future sections a little more than those who haven’t read the book. I soaked up those bits in the book like a hungry word eating sponge. Even the first few lines were a treat to read:
Old Georgie’s path an’ mine crossed more times’n I’m confy mem’yrin, an’ after I’m died, no sayin’ what some fangy devil won’t try an’ do to me…so gimme some mutton an’ I’ll tell you ’bout our first meetin’. A fat joocesome slice, nay, non o’your burnt wafery off’rins…
– Sloosha’s Crossin’ an Ev’rythin’ After – Cloud Atlas.
I judge a movie on its own merits.
So what if the movie isn’t the same as the book? Does that really matter? Is it really that important to anyone? I guess perhaps to the author, though I suspect (and hope) that David Mitchell was pretty chuffed with how Cloud Atlas turned out on the big screen. The same goes for Suzanne Collins and The Hunger Games. Great book. Great movie.
There will always be disappointments if you compare the two, so why go there? Why muddy your memory of a good story with negativity if the movie didn’t follow the book to the exact letter?
Every so often I’ll over hear people bouncing the negativity ball about how the movie wasn’t the same as the book, and I can’t stop myself from joining in, only to ask them why they’re swapping bad memories of a movie that if judged on its own wasn’t bad at all. I ask them to consider how they’d judge that movie if there hadn’t been a book.
It’s interesting to see how people can change their minds, although many do circle back to the: “Yeah but the book…blah blah…” at which point I roll my eyes and walk away.
Those are the same people who can’t see beyond someone else’s furniture in a house they’re thinking of buying. Stop commenting on the kitchen units, carpet colour, wardrobe style and all that crap and look at the actual room!
Do you read the book first?
Given the choice would you read the book before seeing the movie? I’ve done that on a number of occasions, Cloud Atlas and Hunger Games trilogy for example, though strangely only after my attention is grabbed by the trailer. On the other hand I’m glad I watched Game of Thrones before reading the book.
After season one I gave the book a try. It’s a great read. The problem I had with the book was the sheer amount of characters, places, religions, houses, crests and everything else that were crammed in right from the start. As I had visuals from the telly show I found it was easier to read, whereas I know that amount of information would have made reading the book feel like a chore.
My personal preference is to read the book first. I like my noggin to give me the images from words first, then I can appreciate how I director envisions the same story from their own perspective. For me that’s a treat rather than something to feel dismay over. It’s like comparing notes with the director!
Does being faithful matter that much?
Other than making fans happy I don’t think it’s that important. Lord of the Rings was pretty good, stayed close to the book, but The Hobbit seems to have pissed a lot of people off with way too much padding and extra stuff. So what? Does that really matter? Okay, The Hobbit was a pretty short book and there’s no where near enough content to make three movies out of it, but again…so what?
I applaud any director like Peter Jackson who is so embedded in Tolkien’s Middle Earth that he wants to expand on it, give that story more depth, more action, more beautiful scenery and of course more story which is kind of the point.
These days it’s all about the trilogy. They make money by keeping the fans coming back again and again. By giving fans more you get bums on seats at the cinema creating revenue for movie studios, which ultimately provides them the means to keep us entertained.
I’m happy to cough up a few monies so I can sit in a movie theatre for the sequel and have my senses spirited away on an amazing (or unexpected…groan, sorry!) journey to far away lands.
Thanks Mr Jackson! That’s at least 9+ hours of movie entertainment out of one small book. Awesome.
My question to you, dear blog reader, is this:
Should movies be faithful to the book?
Why or why not?
I’ll leave you an interview with Max Brooks on the subject on World War Z, book and movie.