So, last week I posted about reading Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline. (Fantastic book. Haven't really stopped thinking about it since then - makes me want to write dystopian sci-fi.)
Less than 24 hours after writing that article, I went out and rented the movie. And I mean that literally - I walked into a store, grabbed the DVD off the shelf, and paid for the privilege to take it home and watch it in my own home.
I'm not going to give you a blow-by-blow on the differences between the movie and the book. As tempting as that is, I don't personally find those articles terribly interesting to read, and I imagine you can probably find a list elsewhere that's both comprehensive and well-written.
Instead, I'm going to talk about something a little closer to my heart - the philosophy with which we approach media that's been translated from one medium to another.
I have found in the past that my primary problem in watching a movie that's been adapted from a book is that I can't judge the movie on its own merit, but rather by comparison to its source material. This is not only not fair to the movie, but it colors my perception of the book as well.
This time, however, watching the movie within a week of reading the book (3 days after finishing it, actually) I found that not only did I enjoy it, but I didn't resent the changes made to the plot in adapting the story to the screen. To put this in perspective - I decided I disliked the Harry Potter movies because "Buckbeak's knees bend the wrong way, and Harry's hair is too tidy." Up until this point I've indulged in a level of pickiness with my book-to-movie translations that even I can say is utterly ridiculous.
So what made this different?
I think in this case, one of the determining factors for me was that though the content and style changed, the message of the story stayed the same. It was one boy's journey from self-interest to something that looks almost (but not quite) like altruism. The turning from the interests of the self to the interests of a larger group; in this case, the larger group is the denizens of the OASIS and specifically the guy who invented it.
I won't say that movies that change the core message of the books they were inspired by are bad. They're not inherently inferior, either - they're just a different story. (Just because I have a personal bias against the movie translation of Eragon doesn't mean it's BAD - I just don't like it.)
But what does this mean about the way I (and probably others) approach movies based on books we like? I think it means that I am beginning to understand that I can't watch the movie expecting to see the book. I'll always be disappointed. Every time. The more I can judge the movie by its own merit, the happier I'll be, and the less I'll complain.
Here's hoping this is a sign that I'm getting better at doing that.
Unrelated, but exciting: The Catawampus Readings Podcast is now live! Enjoy the sultry sound of my voice and disagree with my opinions to your heart's content! Posting weekly on Wednesdays. :)