Film adaptations replace novel reading

BY CECILIA MCGUINNESS
Entertainment Editor

The days of curling up by the fire with a good book seem to be coming to an end with the recent surge of book-to-movie adaptations. But does this mean the end of actually buckling down and dedicating time to a 200 to 300-page novel?

In the past year, over 36 novels were adapted for the big screen, including John Green’s “The Fault in our Stars,” “If I Stay” by Gayle Forman and “The Maze Runner” by James
Dashner.

Though these are mostly teen romance novels and are considered ‘light reads,’ “The Fault in our Stars” alone grossed over $48 million in its opening weekend. That said, some of our most valued novels (and important for high school curricula) have made reading a text word for word almost mundane.

The classic, “The Great Gatsby,” saw its day once again in 2013 when it came out in theatres, we all remember having to write a long-winded essay on the symbolism of the flashing green light and Daisy’s “beautiful fool” monologue. What students in high school have now that we did not, is a fairly accurate representation of the emotions in the book, as well as the significance of each character’s dialogue and interpersonal relationships.

Where we had to read between the lines, current students can just pop in a DVD and listen to Lana Del Rey moan about people’s superficiality being their downfall.

However, some movies do bring to light some of the books that might have been overlooked when published. “Hector and the Search for Happiness” by Francois Lelord is an inspirational tale about a psychiatrist trying to find happiness in a world where he cannot seem to make anyone else happy. Because it is such a brief novel, many probably would have passed it by as another short toilet read. Carissa Jones, a communication major at County College of Morris said “Based on previews and trailers, it’s going to be perfect. It was a short novel, so if anything, they can just add to the story line.”

On the opposite end, when movies do not stay true to books, a fan will be up in arms about the inaccuracies. “The Shining” by Stanley Kubrick, originally written by Stephen King, did just this, to the point where King eventually had a mini-series made based on the 497-page novel. However, it is hard to make a book that consists mostly of descriptive passages into a movie where the scene that took a page to write takes three seconds to set up.

It can be argued that Kubrick had full rights to make these artistic changes, being the revolutionary filmmaker of the time, and most of King’s book to movie adaptations were monumental flops in following years (Lawnmower Man, anyone?). Does this make it appropriate for books to simply be a template for aspiring
directors?

“Movie adaptations are a good way to really help people visualize what they were reading,” said Emir Hadzovic, a student at CCM. “Other times it’s a good way to gain a new perspective on something you’ve read.”

Let’s face it, print is not an industry that will die anytime soon. The Kindle cannot replicate that comforting old book smell. However, people’s need for media will never be satisfied, lest our thirst for instant gratification be quenched. At this point, it seems that as long as books are around, there are going to be three more directors begging to put it on the big screen.

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