With the recent announcement of the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before movie, and the controversy surrounding it, a discussion post idea that I had a looong time ago resurfaced. Despite being a veracious member of the 21st century fandom culture, I do not like movie adaptations of books. Or TV ones, for that matter. In fact, I spend a considerable amount of energy trying to avoid them (and the resulting hype) at all costs.
Let’s put it this way. If my favorite books of all-time, the Grisha trilogy and Six of Crows duology, were ever optioned for the big screen, I honestly would be upset. Mad, even. I know, all you guys are looking at me like I’m crazy, but I’m here today to explain why I really really don’t like movie adaptations. Feel free at the end to tell me all the reasons you love them, I’m sure I’m in the minority when it comes to this topic!
I guess you could say it started with The Lightning Thief. To say that movie was a betrayal of the worst kind would frankly be an understatement. My innocent 10-year-old self devoured the PJO series, and fell instantly in love. I had never read a story that I connected to so deeply, and for years later I would continue to be obsessed with the characters, Camp Half Blood, and all-things demigod related. So of course with the movie announcement, I freaked! I was ready to see my favorite story come to life. But little did I know that my hopes and dreams would be so utterly crushed – annihilated really – by that film. I still despise it with every fiber of my being, and will go off on a rant if asked about it. They butchered the characters, butchered the story, and in the process, tore my heart out.
That movie kicked off virtually a lifetime’s worth of distrust towards all adaptations. I do admit that I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to books, and I know that attitude is not the best to have. I can’t stand when any details about the plot or characters are changed. I’ve never agreed with or understood the philosophy that some directors/producers/screenplay writers have where they want to take the original story and “make it their own.” No offense to those creators, but I personally don’t want their version! I want the exact version I’ve already read and loved! It definitely makes my experience a lot harder than people that are more open-minded and just go into a movie with low expectations. I’m sure they leave with a smile on their face and are much happier! I wish I could be like that, but I just can’t be.
It goes beyond seeing changes made from the book. In truth, I get that some changes have to be made. Depending on the book, some plot points or developments don’t translate easily to the screen. For me, it’s about preserving that image I have in my head of the characters, the world, and the scenes. When I read a book, my imagination runs wild with the words on the page, and from then on those images are what I recall whenever I think of the book. I love how I imagine the characters, all their quirks and mannerisms, their clothes and hair, everything. It’s what makes the book so special and totally connected to me as an individual. Everyone imagines things a little differently in their head for each book! It’s one of the things I love most about reading, how we each read the same thing but interpret it in such drastically different ways.
The main reason I can never seem to enjoy a movie adaptation is because that image I have in my head of the story is sacrificed for the one on screen. I get so used to seeing the actors, that soon I’ve lost my version of the characters. And if the movie is bad, that makes it especially painful. It’s difficult to explain, since it’s such a mentally and emotionally personal thing for me. But the movie always seems to be a pale shadow in comparison to the depth and layers of a book, where the story is so much richer and so much more real than anything on screen.
So even if a movie adaptation was perfect – the ideal casting, a barely altered plot, a picturesque setting – I still don’t think I could fully appreciate or enjoy it. Because at the end of the day, the movie will never be my vision of the story.
Maybe that’s me being super self-centered or particular, but I can’t help how I feel. Blame the people that made the Percy Jackson movies, if it weren’t for that I might be writing a very different blog post right about now!
I will end the discussion on a more positive note though, and list some movies that I didn’t totally hate and even liked:
- The Hunger Games (didn’t care for the later movies, but overall it was a faithful adaptation)
- Harry Potter (does anyone really hate these?)
- The Fault in Our Stars
- Twilight (I *may* actually like the movies more than the books……)
I will also admit that the upcoming Simon VS movie has definitely caught my attention. The casting seems really attune to the book, so I think I’ll be trying my luck with that one!