This post is brought to you by Ophelia by Lisa Klein. It was one of my favorite books when I was in high school and I’m so excited it’s being made into a film! I didn’t even realize that there was enough people that read it an enjoyed it to make that a possibility. Also Daisy Ridley is cast as Ophelia, so I have a feeling it’s going to be great. All these books to film adaptations have got me wondering, what makes an adaptation successful?
Is an adaptation successful because it took the book and point by point brought every little detail to life? Is it successful because it perfectly encapsulated the themes that the book was conveying? Is it successful because it took what was already great about the book and made it better?
For me a movie adaptation of a book is successful if it makes me want to read the book. Now you may think that that’s a low bar to set, but I never said the movie had to be good. It just has to make me want to read the book.
The reason my bar is set so low is because of the Ella Enchanted movie adaptation. Younger me was so excited to see my favorite book turned into the movie and I was spoiled because Harry Potter was so well done (incidentally I didn’t start reading Harry Potter until after I saw the movie so there’s one example of a successful adaptation). I remember being so angry because it was nothing like my beloved book, but the movie ended up being successful because my intense anger caused my grandmother to read the book just to see what I was so mad about. So I guess in that way even though I hated it, it still got people to read the book.
Over the years I’ve learned to appreciate book-to-film adaptations as something completely separate from their literary counterparts. For one thing it helps me enjoy the movie better and for another it helps me appreciate the book in a totally new light. This isn’t in regards to a movie, but I had to read the play adaptation of The Grapes of Wrath for a class and the intercalary chapters were omitted and just the narrative was played out (although later I watched the movie in a film class and the intercalary chapters and the whole second half of the book were omitted). It made me appreciate the purpose of the intercalary chapters because reading the book for the first time I didn’t quite get the point of them, but reading the story without them turned The Grapes of Wrath from something special into something ordinary.
There have been plenty of sub-par movies that got me reading the books and there are plenty of books I’ve already read that got ruined by sub-par movies, but that doesn’t stop me from being excited to see a story I love play out in front of me in a new way!
What makes a book-to-movie adaptation successful in you eyes? How bothersome do you find inaccurate films? Are you able to look past the differences and enjoy yourself? Let me know in the comments!