Friday, February 24, 2012

Lost In Translation

Last night, I stayed up late and watched the film version of 'The Wave' by Todd Strasser.  The book was based in the same place as the real-life incident: California.  However, the film was made in Germany;  so there were sub-titles.  I love foreign films and didn't mind this.  However, I thought it would have been better if the movie had stayed true to its word of the book and kept the characters and storyline in the place it originally took place; even though it was a more modern and up-to-date way of looking at things.
In this 2008 movie, they used the internet, MySpace, texting and e-mail.  I also found that the old-fashioned ways of bullying and gang warfare was still around and mixed in very well.  However, it still missed the point in that this is an American-based book; and this movie version disappointment me a bit, even though the plot and the way the story carried along was quite strong I did get lost a little in some places because the actions moved faster than the words on the screen.  And this is where it being made in English would have paid off.  

This isn't the only book where it hasn't been translated onto the silver - or small - screen well.  And it's not the author's fault for signing off to the wrong people.  They are made promises and the promises aren't held up; making the films one-sided and totally missing the point.  
I have noticed that 'The Stand' by Stephen King could have been made better.  It was a two-part tele-movie where the first part kicked-butt, and yet the second part fell apart.  However the book was a brilliant read!  And that's the thing with his books, a lot of them don't translate well onto the screen; and it's because they are multifaceted and the directors and screen-writers can't get the same feel as Stephen King into the scripts as he does in his own books.

However, there's always the other way around.  Yes, I've seen books that are drawn from films; and some work but most don't.  For some reason, there's people out there who think that a film/movie would make a good book, but when it does come out, it's a big farce.  I remember when 'The Fifth Element' came out as a film it was a funny and fun thrill ride with Bruce Willis out there saving the world and universe (well, okay, when doesn't he?).  However, about two years later, I found the book to it as a novelisation of the movie; and wondered who's bright idea that was.  I bought it to see how bad it was, and didn't get past chapter two when I gave it away.  It was the corniest, most far-fetched and dreadfully-written book I've ever found; and I swore I'd never buy another.  
Then, my brother asked me to look for 'Johnny Mnemonic'.  I knew it had been a movie as he had rented it out on VCR when I was younger, however, I didn't know it was book now.  It took me four years to find it, and it was the only book I found was worth finding.  After I gave it to Gabe (my brother), he read it and said it was just as good as the film.  However, I just looked up this movie, and it's from a book by William Gibson; this means we were both misinformed.  Now that says something about good writing.  You've either got it; or you don't... which means, you can either grab the action, feeling and dialogue from the film, silver and small screen and put it onto the page properly or you can't.  
Are there any books that you know of that have translated to the big screen - or even the small screen - that have done it well?  Or have there been movies that have done the switch to books in just the same way in a very good way?  Drop me a line and let us all know which ones are your favourites.  Until my next post, happy reading!

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