[DWJ] DIR latest

Elizabeth G. Holtrop elizabeth at bouma-holtrop.com
Sun May 20 12:23:14 EDT 2007

Melissa Proffitt <Melissa at Proffitt.com> wrote:
>And that's the heart of the problem with every well-loved fantasy book that
>ever got made into a movie (or TV show).  In doing so, you've got a built-in
>guaranteed audience in the fans, but they're not going to be enough to make
>the movie successful.  So you have to make the story accessible to people
>who've never heard of the book before.  AND you have to make all the little
>changes that worked on paper but don't translate so well to the screen. It's
>a balancing act.  If you make it too much for the fans, you get David
>Lynch's DUNE and a bunch of moviegoers wondering where the last >two hours
>went.  Too much the other way, and you get THE LAST MIMZY and moviegoers
>wondering whether they've forgotten the original story.  
I agree with most of what Melissa wrote about the balancing act of fans v. new viewers and making necessary changes in book to film without betraying fans' legitimate expectations.  However, another point I think it's important to bear in mind is that novels really don't automatically translate to screen.  It's not just that every reader will have had a different visual picture of the protagonist or that there will be a backlash about the changing of a character's name; it's that the stories are too long to fit into 2 hours of screentime.  One of my favorite films ever is the BBC's 1995 miniseries of _Pride and Prejudice_.  It is remarkably accurate to the novel, but it's five hours long.  P&P isn't even a very long novel.  When trying to cram full-length fantasy novels into 2 hours of screen time, something is going to have to go.  Miniseries sometimes help to reconcile this problem; the Lord of the Rings trilogy, with three very long movies, also seemed to satisfy fans
 for the most part.  But the fact remains that when basing a 2-hour movie on a book, it's far easier to adapt a short story than to tackle a novel.  Something is going to have to give.  The screenwriters will have to cut major sideplots or characters.  Fans will be outraged.

I'm not drawing any judgements, just saying.  I enjoy fantasy movies and would hate to see the fantasy movie die out, but I often wish that screenwriters would start coming up with their own plots rather than looking to beloved books that simply will not be happily squished into only 2 hours of screen time.  Regardless of changes in universe, characterization, names, or mythical creatures.

This ramble brought to you by EGH.

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