The Problem With Movie Adaptations


Movie and show adaptations are not a concept unheard of. In fact, adaptations have been a thing since 1899 when Georges Méliès adapted the very well-known tale of “Cinderella” into a movie. Since then we’ve seen plenty more adaptations from “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The Wizard of Oz” to “Harry Potter” and “The Lord of the Rings”. Even today we see HBOMax releasing a TV show adaptation of the popular survival story-based video game “The Last of Us”. 

While some may be thrilled to hear the news of an adaptation, others may feel troubled. “I like movie and show adaptations even after I’ve read the book because it’s cool seeing the story come to life,” said Sharmane Franco. Sometimes people find it hard to visualize the words on paper into an image in their head. This difficulty fades away with movies and shows as people can enjoy these stories without the struggle of imagining the details in a book: “I think adaptations are worth watching even if it is subjectively bad. It’s good to see other different perspectives on a story even if I do not agree with it,” said Melissa Leroy. Even those with a wide-ranging imagination can find enjoyment in these movies. Maybe watching the big screen is exactly what they envisioned while reading or maybe it shows them a new perspective. Though, sometimes the adaptation is nothing like a person imagined, leaving a person unsatisfied. 

Why do so many directors fail to deliver an adaptation that will please these readers? There is a distinct difference between movies and books. The average page count of a book is between 200 to 400 pages with approximately 70,000 to 120,000 words. Directors are presented with the struggle of fitting all those words and pages into an hour-and-a-half or a two hour movie. That means all those little details that readers know and love have a hard chance of finding their way into their adaptations. Leroy said she is typically satisfied with adaptations, especially if the cast is similar to how the characters were described in the book. Though, she adds, “There are times when the casting directors of the film cast lighter-skinned people when the book description is that they are dark-skinned. But that is a different topic on colorism in the film industry.” Another problem arises with how we perceive books and movies. All the words and pages of a book deal more with what’s going on inside a character’s brain through inner monologues and intricate descriptions. It’s much more difficult dissecting a character’s brain in movies as there is oftentimes an absence of that internal monologue and precise details. People have to depend on the actions and movements of the characters as well as the dialogue and interactions they see on screen. 

Should the entertainment industry continue releasing adaptations? Throughout the years we’ve seen some good and some bad movie adaptations. Leroy lists some of her favorite movie adaptations such as Shadow and Bone, Pride and Prejudice, Harry Potter, and Flipped. She also lists some she believes weren’t done so well such as Love and Gelato, The Hating Game, and Allegiant. Some people are more critical when it comes to judging movie adaptations while others may judge by how well they enjoyed the movie or not: “I personally think that book adaptations should continue because it is cool to see what has been in my brain come to life,” said Leroy. To like or dislike movie adaptations is purely an opinion that differs from person to person. Whether you believe the entertainment industry should cease or continue adaptations, I think adaptations will continue to be a thing for many years to come. 

Categories: Entertainment

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