Writer, musician, nerd and geek. Residing in Sydney, Australia.
Junior Contributor I
The Accuracy of Book-To-Movie Adaptations
Book-to-movie films (and—more regularly, now—shows) are especially common in young adult franchises such as The Maze Runner, The Hunger Games, and Divergent. The first three Harry Potter films are some of the most beloved book-to-movie adaptations in history. The latter movies, while successful in other regards, were criticised (especially by book purists) for cutting out, altering, or ignoring large chunks of the source material. I have heard several fans say that they would watch a Harry Potter reboot if it was a high-budget streaming show that adapted each chapter into an episode, with the dialogue and plots and sub-plots remaining exactly the same as the books. Whether this would ever be done remains to be seen,
Movies face an issue in that they are limited in run-time. While there are long movie adaptations out there (The Lord of the Rings is a prime example), more commonly, they are cut to fit at a little over 2 hours. They prioritise entertainment and a streamlined story. Books can vary in length to a great degree—the first Harry Potter book was around 77,000 words while the fifth (the longest) was around 257,000. Yet the fifth movie (2hrs and 18 minutes long) was actually shorter than the first (2 hours and 32 minutes long). The movie arguably benefited from cutting much of the meat of the book, at least from an entertainment perspective, if not from a story and world perspective.
How important is it for the plot to be accurately represented in films, given that they are, indeed, adaptations of the source material and not direct translations? Is it enough for the characters and world to be represented with care and detail? Are fans right in complaining about inaccuracy and missing scenes in book-to-movie adaptations? What are some examples of book-to-movie adaptations done well, and done poorly?