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How do you feel when an adapted film's story deviates from the original material?


One night, when having dinner with a friend, we discussed books that were made into movies. During that discussion, she shared with me her hypothesis that whatever you experience first, you'll prefer that version over the other. As I thought about her comment, I realized that that was almost always true for me.

So, how does that translate to my feelings when a movie deviates from the original plotlines of a novel? A variety of emotions result:

1. If I really enjoyed the book, and am eager to see the film adaptation, I am almost always disappointed. This is especially true if I felt the book was so clever and so unlike anything that I'd previously read. However, such disappointment is oftentimes inevitable. Books have the luxury of going into detail that isn't always possible in a movie because of our culture's shorter attention spans. Storylines need to keep moving on the big screen. In addition, some mystical elements are too difficult to adapt to film for technological or budgetary reasons. As a result, some of the details readers come to love about the books are omitted from the film version.

2. If the movie takes away the fluff storylines that I didn't particularly enjoy in the book, then I tend to enjoy the movie better. While this has been rare for me, the moments when filmmakers decide to omit storylines and characters that add nothing to the main plot are appreciated by my filmgoer counterpart.

3. In the common instances where the movie deviates greatly from the book and results in a completely different ending for its characters, how they execute the ending determines the emotion. If the drastically different ending is inferior to the book's ending, I'll likely be very frustrated and uninterested in watching the movie ever again. If the change to the ending is still satisfying, I will appreciate it, but also question the reasoning behind the change. Oftentimes, I wonder if it's because the change they make is "safer" based on social acceptability, because a love storyline always seemingly needs to be added when one isn't present in the book, or if the technical/financial constraints mentioned earlier influence the decision.

Regardless of these varied emotional reactions, I still find myself drawn to reading a book after seeing a good movie/TV adaptation or wanting to read a book when I see a preview for a movie of interest. There's a sense of satisfaction in knowing both adaptations of the story and being able to formulate opinions and recommendations as a result!

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