Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Book/Movie Comparison: Introduction & List

It's kind of funny I'm doing posts like this, but I kind of get annoyed when people complain about movie adaptations of novels. But these posts aren't going to be about "OMG, I can't believe they left this scene out." The novel and the feature-length film are two very different forms of art. These posts are less comparisons and more analyses. I'm going to talk about how well the movie did in conveying the theme of the book, the growth of the characters, the main conflict, etc. Sometimes, the movies do it better. I'll try to learn lessons from each adaptation, too.

So, here are a few reference lists for myself (not exactly exhaustive). I'll come back, add to the lists, and eventually take some of them to make posts!

Book Read and Movie Seen:
1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by JK Rowling
2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling
6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling
7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling Part 1
8. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
9. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
10. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
11. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
12. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
13. The Prestige by Christopher Priest
14. Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
15. LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien
16. LOTR: The Two Towers by JRR Tolkien
17. LOTR: Return of the King by JRR Tolkien
18. The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis
19. Prince Caspian by CS Lewis
20. Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief by Rich Riordan
21. Children of Men by PJ James
22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
23. Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
24. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
25. Holes by Louis Sachar
26. 1-3 of A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
27. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
28. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
29. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (various film adaptations)
30. Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare (various film adaptations)
31. Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
32. The Green Mile by Stephen King
35. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Books I've read that have movie adaptations I haven't yet seen or aren't released:
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

Movies I've seen adapted from books that I want to read:
1. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
2. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
3. The Boy In Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Books I'd like to read that have movie adaptations I'd like to see:
1. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Books that should never be adapted for film (in my humble opinion):
And this isn't because they are bad books - on the contrary, these are my favorites - but so much that is beautiful about these books can't be translated to film. Their language and literary style is really what makes these books amazing. If the story went to film without the language, it wouldn't be nearly as powerful.
1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
2. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

 Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Paperback, published 2006, 288 pages

I picked up this book after seeing the trailer for the movie. It was not as amazing as some reviews made it out to be, but it was a very thoughtful book. What an interesting premise, too! I knew it wasn't going to be a really happy ending where she ran off and never had to be a donor, but I was still sad. There was a finality to it: really, Kath had no other choice but to live the life set out for her. At first, I thought Halsham was kind of messed up, having ideas like Miss Lucy, but in the end, what Miss Emily said really touched me. They were doing all that they could for these student who were created to save others, students most people didn't even consider humans.

I liked that the book wasn't solely about the process of cloning and donating and the social implications about that, it just focused on Kath's relationships with Ruth and Tommy. I wouldn't mind a book like that, but this definitely was a more reflective one, especially with the way Kath was looking back at her life, sorting memories out and thinking of why people acted the way they did. This is a lot how I think when I think about the past, I try to understand my own actions and those of the people around me, and there's a new insight from the years since then. I grew to like Kath's voice.

One narrative trick that started to annoy me was:
"That's why I was so surprised when she said what she said in Room 22."
Then Kath told you exactly what "she" said in Room 22.

"Tommy was talking about the incident at Norfolk."
Then Kath told you all about the incident at Norfolk.

I don't think it's a bad device in and of itself, but Ishiguro used it at least half a dozen time. He was probably trying to create suspense, and it worked the first five times, then I started to get annoyed.

Anyways, I finished this book in just a couple days. Ishiguro's writing is beautiful and entrancing; I really felt like I was Kath remembering Ruth and Tommy and Halsham. 

I'll write about what I thought about the movie when I see it. I'm thinking of having book/movie comparison posts.