Behind almost every movie is a great novel. Today, best sellers are transformed into movies to gain a larger audience, but are the movies always true to the books? In my opinion, most movies tend to stay true to the story except for minor changes in details used to capture the attention of the audience. These changes can either bring the book to life or leave viewers wishing that the book remained on a shelf. Remember, to transform a book into a film is a very difficult task.
One of my favorite novels, The Secret Life of Bees, is a perfect example.Set in the South in the 1960’s, the story revolves around a young white girl who after the death of her mother has her African American caregiver as her only real companion. During this period in time, racial tensions were on the rise and violence was fierce. The author, Sue Monk, used vivid, descriptive language throughout the novel to convey the violence that occupied the underlining tension that existed due to racial inequality in the South. The tone she set clearly portrayed the abuse, discrimination, and even death that took place. The author’s words left a lasting image embedded in your mind of how the white people treated the African Americans. However, when I saw the movie, the images displayed on the big screen did not do the novel the justice it deserved. Although the cast was awesome with Queen Latifah and Dakota Fanning, the overall effect lacked the energy that the book possessed. The issue of racism seemed much more subdued compared to the book. To me, the director was unable to capture the powerful events on screen, leaving more to be desired. I am not saying that the movie was not good, but I just did not feel the same emotion and connection to the characters as I did when reading the novel. For me, this page turner should have just stayed on the best seller list.
That brings me to another novel that I love with all my heart- the first book of the Twilight series, Twilight. I understand that it is extremely difficult to condense over four hundred pages into a two hour movie, but in order to capture the essence of the novel, the director must try to come as close as possible. Within the first ten minutes of the movie, Bella and Edward were already in love, something that the author took over one hundred pages to do. Rushing this major part of the novel made me feel as though a lot of important connections between the characters were omitted since there were moments in those pages that only words could truly describe. However, at times I cried because the director was able to bring the emotions of the characters to life right out of the book. The vibrant images I had in my head of Edward and Bella from the novel kept my eyes glued to the screen. The pages did come to life on the screen, but I feel this was only because I was so emotionally attached to the author’s captivating words.
What do you think? Are Capote’s words holding up on the big screen in the movieIn Cold Blood directed by Richard Brooks in 1967? Are the visual images as compelling as in the novel? Should such a great piece of literature remain just a page turner? Let me tell you what I think. After viewing the movie, I think the movie totally captured the essence of Capote’s words. Just as I could not put the book down, I also kept my eyes glued to the screen. There was perfect casting of all the characters as compared to the book. The movie did however spend more time on developing the characters of Perry and Dick and not as much as the Clutters. The entire story was filmed in black and white which gave it an eerie feeling. The filming of the murders was done exceptionally well. Without being graphic and gory, the sound of the empty shotgun shell being ejected from the shotgun after every round added to the tension and made me tense up anticipating the death of the next victim. Even though I knew how the story ended, the execution scene in the movie was horrifying and was exactly the way Capote described it in the novel. As I previously stated about the movie Twilight, the director had to condense hundreds of pages into 134 minutes which meant that some details had to be shortened or omitted. In my opinion, the movie did the novel a great justice and should be seen by everyone who has read the novel. Overall, a movie can never be exactly like the book, but most times they come very close. What do you think?