Thursday, March 29, 2012

Lost In Translation

I read a great blog (My Friend Amy) yesterday about differences between The Hunger Games as a movie and The Hunger Games the book. The blog explores whether some of the story's significance and impact is (or will be later) lost in translation from paper to the big screen.

While I have read the books (and LOVED them!), I have not yet seen the movie. But I have found this to be true of many books where characters' change comes about mostly internally, not necessarily by way of action. During the flourish of movies based on Stephen King books, I almost always found the movie never did the story or characters justice. The movies were not bad, they just didn't give the full effect of his stories.

What do you think? Is something lost in translation from book to the big screen?


Louisa Cornell said...

I think you're right, Kat. For the most part books don't translate completely to the big screen no matter how well done. However, there were a few of Stephen King's that came close - The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption, Dolores Claiborne, The Shining and Misery. However, I don't think Pet Cemetary, Carrie, or any of the longer epic type novels translated as well. The more complicated his novels, the harder it is to translate them to the screen.

Now the Lord of the Rings trilogy was really well done. Jackson did a great job of including everything he could to paint a really vivid picture of Middle Earth. But I read the books longer before I saw the movies and I knew of that world. So maybe that helped me.

The Harry Potter books were well done, but in each film there were things I wish they'd included from the books.

Classics are a big different as people have often read them and reread them and therefore have a better frame of reference from which to watch the film. I've seen some great productions of the novels of Dickens, Austen, Bronte, and Gaskill, but I've seen some really bad adaptations as well.

Carla Swafford said...

The ones I'm thinking mainly are: Gone With The Wind, Queen of The Damn, Interview With A Vampire and Dune (hard as it is to believe, at one time I did read something besides romances-though they all had a little romance in them especially GWTW). What they all had in common were that the book has so much in them (plots, characters, twists), we would have to be in the theater for 8 hrs to see all of the plot and characters. Plus in a book, we get to be in one or more characters head. Some movies have tried voice overs, but they don't always work.

So I never expect to see the complete book or a perfect resemblance of it. If the movie gets the gist of the book, I'm usually happy. In fact, I loved the movie Queen of the Damn more than the book -- the book? Boring.

an anonymous economist said...

I think that (with Harry Potter being the exception), when they try to bring a book to the big screen through a straight-up translation, it usually doesn't work. Especially for a complex books. But when they take a book and do a reading of it, and present that, the results can actually illuminate something that you hadn't noticed before. For example, The English Patient (the book) is really more about the nurse, but the movie is excellent even though they only took one of the many story lines to highlight. Or The Hours- that was an absolutely brilliant adaptation. But Beloved, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Twilight ...gag.

Lisa Dunick said...

*sigh* sorry- husband was apparently on my computer last night