I own very few movies, but the ones I have I tend to watch over and over again because I enjoy gathering the small plot twists and nuances I may have missed before. I recently watched two book adaptations again, both of which I like very much, although one stays true to the original story, while one branches off on its own adventure.
Many times, the book version of the story is simply too long to put everything in the movie, so sacrifices must be made. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is a good example of careful preservation, although some key parts had to be left out. I was so disappointed that Tom Bombadil, a cross between Switzerland and the ultimate naturalist, did not make it into the movie, but I understood. To develop his character, with all his strength but opposing desire to be left out of conflict would have taken quite a bit of time, and as important as J.R.R. Tolkien thought he was, Toms absence did not change the final outcome of the plot.
Disappointment often comes when filmmakers add too much to a story. Washington Irvings The Legend of Sleepy Hollow made its most recent appearance in theaters back in 1998 with Johnny Depp as Ichabod Crane. The casting was excellent who would have thought Christopher Walken would have been that good as a vengeful ghost? But far too much superfluous subplottage was added, and Irvings subtle nuances were nearly extinguished. But for Depps genius at playing odd characters, it would have been covered up entirely.
Irving was noted for the underlying political and social dramas in the meandering stories he often disguised as childrens tales. Hollywood overrode those when it tried to appeal to the masses by making the story a happy-ending romance. Instead of a gawky schoolteacher who succumbs to the evils on an unquenchable headless horseseman, Ichabod becomes the conquering hero.
The movie almost pardons the horseman for his deeds by placing his actions in the control of Lady Van Tassel. One step further, and we would find he had a bad childhood and was really only trying to find himself by doing monstrous things to innocent people.
Yes, sometimes, its disappointing when Hollywood ad-libs, but thats what keeps the original, literary versions of those stories classic. Its why we return again and again to those trusted pages, knowing they will call up the closest images possible to what the original author had in mind.
Either way, whether watching them or reading them, the two stories I have discussed are worth taking in, but it is important to recognize the differences between the two movie adaptations. We will never have perfect movies based on books whose authors are dead, but it is always interesting to wonder, would they approve of the films if they were alive to see them?
Elizabeth Crumbly is editor of the The Catoosa County News and Fort Oglethorpe Press. She can be contacted by email at email@example.com.
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