Movies Based on Books
Every year an average of thirty novels are made into movies for the big screen. It can be perceived by some that writing a movie based on a novel is a tad lazy. Much like a college student who has the answers before a test. If you ask me, it takes as much time and effort to write a screenplay as it does a book. Having to adapt a written story into visual one can be a real challenge.
Personally, I am grateful that writers have taken on the task of taking great novels and making them available to a wider audience. Not everyone is a reader, not everyone can even read. It is a great tribute to the Arts when a note worthy book is made into movie.
Among the host of successful book based movies is:
The 1997 version of Ivanhoe based on a novel by Sir Walter Scott , and Accidental Tourist based on a book by Anne Tyler. The Notebook (novel by Nicholas Sparks) is another one that made it to the local movie theater. It was a big hit but many fans of the book were disappointed. The plot of the original story was changed, it altered a dimension of one of the main characters and even added events that never took place in the book. It is hard work to translate a book into a movie.
My Personal Favorite
Memoirs of a Geisha written by Arthur Golden is an unforgettable book. It is a well written book about the triumph of the human spirit in the face of crushing circumstances. The world of the Geisha is fascinating to say the least. Now, the movie version came out in 2005 and wowed the majority of movie goers. I was captivated by the beautiful cinematography. It is a good film well worth watching. But I still like the book better.
The Bitter Disappointments:
Often times these film adaptations do the original story no justice. A perfect example of how difficult it is are these two movies: Jonathan Livingston Seagull based on a celebrated book by Richard D.Bach and Clan of the Cave Bear(novel by Jean M.Auel). Both were disappointing duds for tinsel town.
"Why doesn’t the writer of the novel write the screenplay as well?"
Because it is a different art all together. Many novel writers are stumped when trying to communicate with picture and action rather than words. It is taking a multidimensional book into a few dimensional screenplay. Most often it is impossible to convey a story chapter by chapter on screen. Also, in a book you have a characters thoughts spelled out for you, thought cannot be portrayed onscreen.
So to answer the question: Is a screenwriter being lazy when he picks a story that has already been written in a book? I would say no. On the contrary, I think it is more difficult.
References for New Releases, Reviews and Screenwriting
- Screenwriting, screenplays, and writing
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- ROTTEN TOMATOES: Movies - New Movie Reviews and Previews!
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- VideoETA - The best source for DVD release dates
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- Movies.com: Everything Movies, Trailers, In Theater and on DVD
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