13 Mar 2011

Book Versus Film

Most Sunday mornings I like to wake up with a cup of hot tea, some buttered crumpets and a dose of Film 2011 presented by Claudia Winkleman and Danny Leigh.  On this show the pair tell us about new film releases and share their opinions.

One of the films mentioned today was Norwegian Wood which was previously a novel.  Judging by the trailer it has a great soundtrack.

I have read the book and it got me thinking about film adaptations.  They can be highly irritating and dissappointing if they do not live up to your expectations, and they can be incredible to watch if they do.  Let The Right One In is one of my favourite film adaptations, and one of my least favourite is The Golden Compass (mainly because it should have been called Northern Lights).

For me it was all wrong!  I felt the film was just too colourful - like a children's story.  Whereas the Dark Materials trilogy constructed in my mind quite a dark, harsh and frightening world.  I also found it too showy - highly reliant on costumes and special effects and not on the actual story.  This was a shame because the book presented an astoundingly intricate tale that included some really interesting philosophies.  The talent and intelligence of the author did not come across in the film as well as it could have - something that films such as Let The Right One In I thought did very well.  It can be so dissappointing when a film doesn't work for you, but that's why books are so much better than films.  The work is left to the reader - The Golden Compass was someone else's interpretation of the story and no doubt it will have really worked for some people, but not me.  I adore the books and have read them all more than once.

The characters can be really important too.  Marisa Coulter was portrayed in the book as a dark, dangerous woman with rich, dark hair.  I always imagined her to look like Nigella Lawson or Kirsty Allsop.  Instead the blonde, petite and highly unthreatening Nicole Kidman was cast!  What?!  Lyra too was portrayed as a messy little tomboy, but the actress always looks so prim and pretty throughout the film.  I'm currently reading Mister God This Is Anna, and Anna really reminds me of Lyra.

Another dissappointment was that I felt the film did not invite you to read the book.  The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, despite not being a particularly enjoyable film, immediately made me want to track down a copy of the book.  Maybe that's how you can judge a good film adaptation?  This is a film that does the characters brilliant justice.  I know I'm mentioning Ms Salander a lot these days, but she really is a great character!  Noomi Rapace is pure talent, and the transformation she went through to become Salander is amazing.

Fantastic!  I don't think I need to point out which is which.

All in all I think it's hit and miss with film adaptations of novels.  Sometimes they fail to capture the spirit of the book, other times they ingnite the spirit of the book and make you want to read it again!