I've been on a Harry Potter movie marathon this week, something to keep my mind occupied while I'm re-gearing between books. I have the first five, and I spread them over three days. It's an excellent way to pass some time.
Last night, when I finished THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX, I wanted to go back and fact check a couple of items against the book. I hate that so many of the scenes are altered, making Harry look weak - especially when he has the prophesy and Lucius Malfoy confronts him. In the movie he hands it over. If I remember correctly, in the book, that is far from accurate.
I was planning a late night anyway because I was expecting a call from the West coast, so instead of flipping to the appropriate spot in the book, I started at the beginning.
These books lend themselves well to the visual medium, no doubt about it. But the difference was overwhelming. It was like going from watching a black and white silent movie to reading in luscious Technicolor. The imagery J.K. Rowling evokes just can't quite make it to the screen. They come close - I did a step by step match-up of the beginning of the book and the movie, and the movie captures the essence of what the book describes. But reading it, glorying in the details, was a far more satisfactory experience for me. There's just so many minute details that the movie encompasses into one broad stroke, which is an art unto itself.
As a writer, I can only imagine how difficult it is to adapt a popular novel to the screen. Every reader has a completely individualized experience when reading a book. Characters form in your mind, and each person's description is a little bit different. I had this problem when we were choosing a reader for the Taylor Jackson audio books - I know EXACTLY what Taylor sounds like, deep, husky, slightly southern, slow and decorous. But what I hear in my head may be completely different than what every other reader hears in theirs.
The same goes for a film adaptation, and that's where a really visionary director can make all the difference. I had major issues with the first Twilight film, I felt like it skimmed over too many of the importance parts. But NEW MOON was just the opposite, I thought they did a great job of mining the little details that make Meyer's stories so unique.
So there you have it. Some movie adaptations are a hit, and some are a miss. Regardless, when someone tells me the book is better, I do listen.
What's your favorite adaptation? Least favorite?