I can’t see movies made from a book I’ve read and liked. Am I really all alone in this? I feel like it.
I know this bugs the crap out of people sometimes when we’re trying
to pick a movie everyone can agree on, and looks like some weird
affectation that borders on simply being snooty. But I’ve tried to
watch films made from books and I don’t enjoy it. I am so distracted by
even small deviations from the story the way I read it that I can
barely follow what’s happening on the screen sometimes. I just start
tallying up moments that are in some way or another wrong.
I love to read, and I love the experience of working with a writer’s
words to create places and people in my mind. I don’t want to see
actors who don’t look like the people in my head wearing costumes that
don’t match images I liked in surroundings that never resemble the
pictures I’ve already chosen. I don’t want all of that getting muddled
So, no, I’ve never seen an entire Harry Potter movie. I’ve caught
bits and pieces on TV and found myself muttering unhappily when I did. I
don’t want that castle in my head, I want my castle. I don’t want
those people playing the characters, I want the ones I came up with in
collaboration with the author while I was reading the books.
Recently I’ve been making my way through The Hunger Games series. I
read through the first book in about a day and a half and ran out to
the bookstore to grab the second and third before I was done with the
last chapter because the idea of getting to the end of the first book
and having to wait more than a matter of minutes to start reading the
next was unbearable. I understand the hype because the story really
sucks you in and propels you forward in a way that the term ‘page
turner’ was meant to describe. It’s a fun read that doesn’t feel
frivolous because of the severe subject matter.
I’m fascinated with the cognitive dissonance the book generates by
setting the reader up to be appalled by a society that can’t tear itself
away from watching children being forced to kill one another, while at
the same time counting on us to have the same inability to stop reading
about it. We are guilty observers as we root for the hero just as
everyone in the fictional audience is. That’s interesting. (The only
element I disliked in the first book were the muttations toward the end,
because what? How? Really? Mutant dogs are one thing, but generated
from dead people in a matter of days? Maybe something in one of the
next two books will throw me a bone on that one but I doubt it.)
Anyway, great book. Love it. Can totally see how it inspired a movie franchise. But I am not seeing that movie.
I know people who already have tickets, who are counting down the
days. I know with the Harry Potter books people would read the stories
then camp out at the theaters to see how they were adapted for the
screen and it becomes an event. Lots of people anymore kind of put
books and their movies together like some sort of package deal to be
enjoyed alongside one another like that’s how it should be. So I sit on
the sidelines with my book and hope other people have fun but I can’t
What I enjoy better is pairing things that complement each other. I
took a film and literature class in college that did a clever job of
picking books and movies that had obvious parallels and it was amazing.
We read The Phantom Tollbooth and watched The Wizard of Oz (which I
know is also a book, but not one I read until last year), A Rose for
Emily paired with Psycho, and Heart of Darkness along with Apocalypse
Now. That was fun. But a movie drawing inspiration from a book is
different from a movie trying to be the book. I don’t enjoy that at
Maybe I have too much attachment to my imagination and should be able
to see other people’s interpretations without them obscuring my own.
Or maybe I cling to more details than the average person and they aren’t
seeing the little discrepancies that needle me all through a movie
All I know is I watched part of one trailer for The Hunger Games and
in it the main character is giving her sister a mockingjay pin and
telling her it will keep her safe and my brain started screaming, “But
that’s not what happened! It was from the mayor’s daughter to Katniss
after she volunteered! Aaaargh!” So no, that movie would be no fun for
me at all.
Which is too bad because it’s probably a good movie. Like Hugo which
I don’t want to see and people think that’s stupid of me. But the last
time I tried to see a movie based on a book I liked was Pride and
Prejudice. I figured it had been a long time since I’d read the story
and maybe I didn’t remember everything and it would be okay. But then
they changed the ending. And at that point I officially gave up.
A friend once asked me what I would do if someone made a movie out of
one of the books I’ve written. This is as ridiculous as asking me what
I would wear to meet the queen because it’s not going to happen. I’m
still doing the crushing work of simply trying to find an agent who
could even just make my book into a book. But in that mythical universe
that wants to turn my book into a movie, no, I probably don’t want to
see it. (My friend doesn’t believe me, but unless that mythical
universe also lets me eat nothing but donuts and cereal without ruining
my health, it’s not a different enough universe that I am likely to have
a change of heart.)
I’ve decided I’m done apologizing for not wanting to see movie
adaptations of books I’ve enjoyed. I don’t care anymore if I’m the only
one this bothers.
Maybe this is the same part of my brain that can’t relate to what
people see in watching professional sports, or who enjoy drinking, or
any number of other things I don’t find entertaining that so many people
can’t imagine a life without. That’s okay. I’m not telling anyone
else what they should or shouldn’t enjoy. Have a blast at the movies!
I’ll eat my Junior Mints out here with my book.