Thursday, August 14, 2014

August Classics Club Meme: Adaptations

The question of the month:
What are your thought on adaptations of classics? Say mini-series or movies? Or maybe modern approaches? Are there any good ones? Is it better to read the book first? Or maybe just compare the book and the adaptation? 
This is a good question. *rubs hands together* Personally, I love adaptations of classics, no matter their form. And I really like modern approaches, too; I think they prove the timelessness of the stories.

Is it better to read the book first? In general I would say that it is, for me anyway, because I like to get a good idea of the characters are they were originally written before I see them played on a screen. With the book, you can really let your imagination run wild, no matter how detailed the character description, but once you've seen an adaptation, that particular interpretation of the character will always color the way you read the book. So I think reading the book first, then watching the adaptation provides the most "genuine" experience of the story. But I've been guilty of seeing the movie before I've read the book, and in some cases I think it's a good thing--if I simply can't bring myself to start reading the book, or I have a premonition that it will be horribly boring, then watching an adaptation can get me more excited to read it. Once I know the storyline, it's easier to get through the book; I'm excited to get to the good parts.

As far as comparing the book and the adaptation, I'm in the camp of not going too far with it. Certainly it's fun to see how the actors' and directors' interpretations compared with your own, and what they decided to include and exclude from the adaptation. With modern adaptations, of course, you want to see how they modernize the events and characters from the book. But I try not to think about it too hard...otherwise I start thinking along the lines of, "They'd BETTER keep in that particular obscure line that I just so happen to love OR ELSE" and I miss the entire point of the adaptation. If film adaptations were meant to be exactly like the book, then there would be no point in having them. (Also, it's simply impossible because it's a different medium, so we might as well give up on that.) And when the filmmakers take certain creative liberties that I would never have considered, I try not to be too judgmental. (I even watched "Lost in Austen" in its entirety the other day and managed to keep an open mind, which was no small feat considering how completely unrecognizable the P&P characters were. Bingley becoming a drunk and running away with Lydia? Georgiana a liar and Wickham a sort-of good guy?? Sorry, I've said too much.) I like seeing different interpretations, and no matter how random they are, they can't make the book itself any worse.

Anyway, this is getting to be a little too long, but I love adaptations. What do you think?


  1. I love adaptations as well, and changes don't bother me so much. As for modernisations... I don't know. Shakespeare yes, and I liked Clueless, but on the whole I'm not terribly keen :)

  2. Great post! I agree with you--if you expect too much from the adaptations, they will only disappoint you. They're bound to be different than the original.

  3. I should respond to this monthly meme myself! Such a meaty question. I pretty much agree with you. Especially this:

    If film adaptations were meant to be exactly like the book, then there would be no point in having them.

    Very much my sentiments.