by Anna Sugden
There has been a lot of controversy lately with the new Bond film 'Quantum of Solace' (where do they get these titles?!). For those of you unaware of the issues troubling Bond fans, it's all to do with the last two (Daniel Craig) movies.
You see, they go back to the beginning and tell the story of how Bond developed into the character we know today. The purists believe that this is the only way to see Bond and that this is as close to the James Bond of the Ian Fleming books as we've seen, since George Lazenby. Film fans, meanwhile, are horrified that some of the classic Bond-isms eg 'Martini, shaken not stirred' and Q, are missing from these films. It doesn't matter (much *g*) who plays Bond, but the Bond-isms have to be there.
All of which got me thinking about the problems with turning books into films.
Think of the controversy about the Harry Potter films. Though it's obvious to anyone with an ounce of common sense that turning an 800-plus page tome into a two hour film is just the teensiest bit tricky, die-hard fans get quite upset that chunks of the story have had to be left out. They don't see why it's a problem to capture all the depth of characterisation and complexity of plot, without seeing that the end result would be a major bum-numbing epic!
They had the same problem with Dan Brown's 'The Da Vinci Code'.
Similarly, the recent version of 'Pride and Prejudice' (once you've got over the horror of anyone other than Colin Firth playing Mr Darcy!) raised hackles by straying from the well-known and much-loved story.
That's not to say that any of these films is bad - they're just not 'as good' as the book. Personally, I think they're very entertaining and enjoy them for what they are ... but that's just me (except for 'Pride and Prejudice' - which I didn't like!)
You only need to speak with authors like Lisa Gardner about the adapatations of their books to know how they feel about what was done with their beloved stories.
On the other side of the coin, are the movies that are better (in the viewer's mind) than the book. The one that stands out most for me, is 'Practical Magic' (starring Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman and the drool-worthy Goran Visnij and Aidan Quinn). While Alice Hoffman's book is very good, the film has much more charm.
And then, there are the multitude of TV adaptations (Thank you, BBC) and movies that are really good translations of the printed word to the screen. The Colin Firth version of 'Pride and Prejudice', 'A Town Like Alice' (the Bryan Brown TV series) and Inspector Morse are just a few examples.
I've seen a number of debates about potential movies made from popular series. Who would play Eve Dallas and Roarke (pause to drool) if they made the JD Robb '... In Death' series into movies? What about Ranger, Joe Morelli and Stephanie Plum from Janet Evanovich's series? It's a brave director and producer who take on such feats - because you know you going to irritate a bunch of people no matter what you do!
I know that the fabulous Robert Crais has sworn not to allow his books to be made into movies or TV series, because he wants the reader to have their own interpretation of Elvis Cole and Joe Pike - not one fashioned by Hollywood.
So, what do you think? Do you like books being converted to films? Which do you think have been done well and which badly? Have you read a book which inspired a film and been disappointed? Does it matter if book and film don't match exactly? Are there books you would love to see turned into movies? We all dream of our books being optioned, but how would you feel if the only recognisable element was the title?!
And who would play the yummy scrummy Roarke? Or Ranger?