Let’s be honest, everyone who loves anything does it. The crazed rant about how the adaptation you just saw was terrible. They left so many things out. That includes the best part where a character implodes on themselves. It was totally awesome, so how could it be left out?
It was left out because it didn’t serve the medium. This could be for a huge number of reasons maybe the original book had a complex internal struggle that just becomes a mess when trying to portray it on screen. Or maybe the original movie had a great chase scene with a bunch of nuanced beats and acknowledgements to other parts of the movie that just doesn’t have the same impact in the book.
The thing that needs to be remembered is when there is adaptation made, it is not the original. In some cases, an adaptation far exceeds expectations and adds more to a story than the original. Most of the time, there are a lot of angry fans banging fists against tables and anything in reach. When the person who decides to adapt a work, they do it not replicate the original in a new form, but to bring the story to life in a different way. This means sometimes changing things.
Get over it. It has happened a million times and it will happen a million more. When you are trying to create something original, it doesn’t always come on the first go. Ideas change, things are redrafted. Slowly they become the original piece most people know. I bet if most people saw the first draft of some of their favorite things they would gag. This happens when things are adapted too. Sure there is a base off which a story is based, but it is not the be all, end all of what you will get in the adaptation. When a book is transformed into a movie, there is a lot of extra fat in a book as far as a movie is concerned. A novel of 360 pages, needs to be transformed into approximately 120 pages of script. It is simply impossible to get it all in there. The actors would bring a lot to the table, but if an event gets cut, its because it didn’t add enough to the story.
One huge example of the adaptation straying from the source material is The Walking Dead. For those of you who don’t know, The Walking Dead started as a comic. In 2010 it aired its first TV episode on AMC. The first episode of the series read almost directly from the comic. In fact, they have the panels animated that you can see line up against the episode. There were little changes, but nothing major. The rest of the series has strayed majorly from the comics. Some beats are exactly the same, other beats use different characters, and there is a lot of new and omitted material. Their reasoning is they want to keep it interesting for the viewing audience. They are able to keep people on the toes. For a long, every-changing story like The Walking Dead, it works, even if it upsets fans of the comic at times.
Not every adaption is done the best is possibly can. Some things are better as movies, while others may be suited to be a miniseries. Some movies make for poor book adaptations. Or the book adaptation lacks the heart that the film had. there are a hundred different ways that an adaptation can go wrong.
What Makes Adaptations Successful
I fully believe that a successful adaptation comes from one of two places. The first is that the person who created the original is heavily involved. This is the case with The Walking Dead. Robert Kirkman is actively working on the show. Many of the changes in the show are Kirkman’s idea. He has mentioned in interviews that he sees the show as a chance to fix mistakes that he wished he hadn’t done in the comics. We’ll see if he cuts off Rick’s hand, considering he’s regretted that choice. Another great example are the Harry Potter films. J.K. Rowling was involved in the movies. Sure, there were great things left out of the movies. And yes, there were tweaks that didn’t always line up with descriptions from the book. But it was her book and she got to be a part of the adaptation. It benefited the films in the end. I’ll briefly mention George R. R. Martin as well. He’s already told the creators of the television show the ending that he intends, should Martin die, they can finish the show.
The second is that the person adapting the original is extremely, why is this guy so obsessed, devoted to the original. Pretty much, an uber fan. Joss Whedon is an example of this. He loves Marvel. He does. And it shows when you sit down and watch the Avengers. Having someone who loves the material they are working on keeps them focused. There is a nagging gnome in their head that wants to make the adaptation good because they don’t want to disappoint other fans.
Are they any adaptations you love, or hate?