My Commentary on Novels as Movies
This week, I’m taking a break from my usual blog posts, to write:
My Commentary on Novels as Movies.
I recently read an article in the book section of our newspaper that I found disturbing. It stated that “if you haven’t read the book, you shouldn’t worry, because a flurry of movies pegged to best-selling novels will be in theaters soon.” These are considered to be primers for those who’ve never quite made it through the “real deal”.
I know that studios can’t please everyone, but I’ve been disappointed by the changes in the story lines and character’s appearances that some studios have made. In USA Today, I read a column censuring the studio because of the actors they chose to play the main characters in Fifty Shades of Gray. To explain it, the column stated that studios are forced to choose the actors they do because of time conflicts, or the actors they want to cast simply refuse the part. Well… I can certainly understand that. Oh, and by the way, I didn’t read Fifty Shades of Gray. No offence to the author. It’s not the kind of story I enjoy reading. I’m just using it as an example here.
In one of his blogs, author Phillip Tomasso stated that his novel, The Tenth House, about a satanic cult, was optioned for a movie, but unfortunately, the production company went under. (Sorry Phillip, perhaps another time.) But the description of his novel reminded me of another novel about a satanic cult that I had read many years ago titled, The House of Dr. Edwardes, by *Frances Beeding.
While the two stories are similar, the difference is that The House of Dr. Edwardes actually did get made into a movie, Spellbound, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. But, you say, that movie wasn’t about a satanic cult. Of course it wasn’t. The studio never used the original story. They rewrote it and kept only the character’s names and the name of the mental hospital where the story took place. I don’t know why the Selznick Studio would bother to option a novel and then change the entire storyline. I can only assume that once the author(s) sold the story, the studio could then do whatever they liked with it. I guess studios can get away with that, much to the dismay of the author(s).
I was told by an editor that while she was working on the manuscript of my novel, Masterpiece of Murder, she could see it as a movie, and even went so far as to say that she thought Sandra Bullock would be the ideal actress to play my protagonist, Charlotte Ross. But petite, blond, blue-eyed Reese Witherspoon would make a much better Charlotte as I described her. Already a disagreement, and the novel hasn’t even been optioned. While it would be great to have my novel made into a movie, I’m afraid that some discontented studio exec would probably turn my Argentine mystery into a South American jungle flick, with special effects added, and change Charlotte’s character to suit the actress who took the part, which would be extremely disappointing to me and to my readers.
IMHO, the difference between seeing the movie and reading the novel is the difference between watching someone being kissed, and being kissed yourself. Even though you see the action and the romance, you lose the genuine feeling, because you are not able to experience the emotion. So, if you want to get the “feeling” of a story, you should take the time to make it through “the real deal.”
*(Francis Beeding is the pseudonym used by two British male writers, John Leslie Palmer (1885-1944) and Hilary St George Saunders (1898-1951).
If you agree or disagree, please feel free to leave a comment. I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.
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