Monday, April 5, 2010

That would make a great movie

By Pamela

This fall, once school commenced, I promised to treat myself to a movie once a week. I even internally named it Movie Monday, knowing once I'd given it a catchy title, I would fully embrace it.

Now that the calendar shows mere weeks until school lets out for the summer, I realize my plan has failed miserably. How many movies did I treat myself to? One. And I can't even remember which one it was. Maybe Leap Year, because I do remember seeing that one solo. Like many of my plans, this one failed out of the gate because I failed to make it a priority.

I love going to the movies. I love the feeling of being surrounded by the screen, the sounds, the smell of popcorn. Even the sticky floor sort of grounds me--and reminds me not to set my handbag down.

Last Friday, with my daughter whisked off to see How to Train Your Dragon with the neighbors, my teenage sons and I went to see Shutter Island. I fell in love with Dennis Lehane's writing after a friend told me to read Until Gwen, a short story by Lehane. (Lehane also wrote Gone, Baby, Gone and Mystic River--impressive, no?) I didn't realize, until this same friend pointed it out, that Lehane also wrote Shutter Island. I was not disappointed. The story was superb and now I'm eager to read the book.

Which feels backward.

Typically I'll read the book and then see the movie. Once I've seen the movie version, it's hard to read the book and not see the characters as the actors who played them. But there have been times when I so identified with a character in a book--pictured them so vividly in my head--that the movie felt wrong, as though the casting director didn't read the same script as I had.

Recently, my son and I saw The Lovely Bones. After the movie, he asked how close it was to the book. Honestly, it had been seven years since I'd read the book, so I wasn't sure. All I know is that I enjoyed the book more than the movie.

I've never interviewed an author whose book has gone on to become a movie (except for Jackie Mitchard--The Deep End of the Ocean--and I forgot to ask), but I suppose it's a goal many hope to achieve. For some, it must be immensely satisfying to see their story come to life. For others, though, I'm wondering--especially if they don't write the screenplay, as few do--if seeing the movie is like sending your child to school one day, only to have a different child step off the bus and call, "Mom, I'm home!" I know Stephen King expressed regret over the movie version of The Shining, so much so that he bought back the rights.

The best book-to-movie adaptation I recall was Cider House Rules, by John Irving and, I suppose, it's largely due to the fact that Irving also wrote the screenplay.

I've yet to see some recent movie adaptations, including The Time Travelers Wife and The Other Boleyn Girl. Maybe I'm afraid I'll be disappointed in the interpretation. I read the other day that the movie rights to The Help, one of my recent favorite reads, has just been sold. I hope the screenplay does the story justice and that it's cast well. (I have a few suggestions, if anyone cares.)

What about you read books after you've seen the movie, or do you avoid seeing movie versions of books you've loved?


  1. My favorite book-to-movie was Sense and Sensibility. Don't see The Time Traveler's Wife--even the great actors couldn't save it. Not just because I loved the book, either.
    I read the screenplay for Love Actually after I'd seen the movie (thanks to you!) and loved it.

    By the way, I LOVE to go to the movies by myself - have seen a few that way this year.

  2. It's funny. I planned to read the Time Traveler's Wife and then see the movie, but didn't do either when the movie came out because the reviews were so bad and I didn't have time to read the book.

    Then, it came out on DVD and a friend bought a copy. She said she enjoyed it more than she expected to and loaned it to me. My husband and I watched it and didn't think it was so bad. Not my favorite movie ever, but okay entertainment for the evening.

    BUT, I certainly wonder if I'd read the book first how I would have felt. I will read the book now, eventually, and can't wait to see whether I think the movie stinks in comparison ... after the fact!

    I think I prefer to see movies first. I rarely think a movie lives up to the book, and it's easier to stomach that way.

  3. Interesting blog for literature. Good luck!
    Daniel D. Peaceman, editor of CHMagazine

  4. Like you, I usually read the book and then see the movie. More often than not I much prefer the book, but there are exceptions. I loved the film adaption of The Secret Life of Bees. Also I've watched the film version of Where the Heart is a number of times and still love it. Now The English Patient I saw before I read the book. It's one of my all time favorite movies. And to this day I love it far more than the book.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...