Rules on Viewing Book-to-Film Movie Adaptations

Everyone has had the experience of waiting for a book-to-film adaptation to be released in theaters only to build it up so much in their mind and then be completely let down. I have been guilty of this so many times I have lost count. This only happens when very specific expectations have been created, though. Therefore, before I watch any more films based on books I love, I have written a list of rules to decrease the likelihood of being disappointed.

Rule #1 Accept that the characters in my head are just that: In. My. Head.
~Nobody on Planet Earth other than me knows what that looks like and therefore casting will not be exactly that. Also, RARELY does hair and eye color, height or even weight matter to the story. And acting ability is far more important than looking the part in film making. So, I won’t pretend that my opinion of whom is the perfect actor to play which character is more valid than that of those who ACTUALLY make films for a living. I am relinquishing my right to be upset when my dream fan-casting fails to happen, because as I often have to tell myself, “I love my book worlds but I actually live in reality.” What choice do I have?

Rule #2 Accept that NOT EVERYTHING I love about the book will make it into the film.
~There is no way to take every detail from any book and make an actual feature length movie. It would be fun for me to watch but it would be so unbelievably expensive to make that no company would fund it. Everyone has a favorite scene and not all of them are the same from person to person. I don’t get to throw a fit when a minor character is removed from the story or when my favorite line of dialogue is left on the cutting room floor. Who am I to say, “I know this story best.” The AUTHOR of the book has signed away their right to say that when they gave the rights for the movie to be made in the first place, so I ask again, “WHO AM I?!?!”

Rule #3 View the movie as a separate thing from the book.
~I love my family. It is fun to get together and celebrate our lives. But although my siblings and I all came from the same two people and grew up in the same house, went to the same high school, etc. that doesn’t mean our journeys have been the same. The same is true for a book and a movie. They both tell basically the same story with similar characters but how they react and make decisions may differ. Just as I wouldn’t dare tell my sister or brothers where to work or what to wear, I won’t tell the movie how to be told. Would it even listen?

Rule #4 Really TRY to enjoy the movie.
~When I start a book, I do so with an open mind and some wonder about who I will meet and where we will go. When I buy my ticket, popcorn and take my seat, I need to prepare myself in the same way. True, each character should be familiar to me, but it will be like meeting “my character’s” cousin, and that should be enough. It’s certainly better than not visiting with them at all. It’s why I bought the ticket in the first place; to reacquaint myself with my fictional friends. I will welcome my fictional friend’s cousins with warmness, because my other option is to be disappointed. Who wants that?

Remember these rules the next time you purchase your Book-To-Film Movie ticket and let me know how it goes. I promise to do the same.  Have FUN at the movies! ~JB

2 comments on “Rules on Viewing Book-to-Film Movie Adaptations

  1. Tiffany

    Such a great list of rules. I’ll re-read this before I see Catching Fire and Divergent!

    1. Jolene

      Thank you! When our other choice is to dislike the movie…. Seems like these rules would help!

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