Why do we want to see on screen what we imagine in books? Why are we not satisfied with keeping our most treasured characters in our mind’s eye?
… many great films are brilliant adaptations of books. So what is it about adapting Blume’s stories specifically that made me feel uncomfortable?
My reaction to the question is more personal, more simple and more essentially fearful than a theoretical argument could explain: If I had watched a film of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret then I perhaps wouldn’t have bothered to read the book. And then I may not have read anything for pleasure at all. Ever.
I found this article by Julia Wagner at Huffington Post about book-to-screen adaptations to be an interesting one. My opinion on these types of projects changes on the regular. People often assume I feel angry, mistrustful, or disappointed that some of my favorite books in the world become films; in fact, however, I love seeing characters and worlds I adore re-interpreted and brought to life in a way that is different from what I most likely already imagined. Furthermore, there are many projects that I think make better films than books, and I don’t feel disappointed to have to state my opinion on that. Of course, there are also plenty of books that become movies that disappoint tremendously, but the upside is that it doesn’t matter – the source material still rocks, and I can always return to it on my own.
It’s important for me to keep in mind, though, that books for kids and young adults have a higher risk attached; like she points out, there are often “trigger books” that catapult a kid’s life-long love of books… or at least a life-long feeling of NOT hate. What we do when we make them films is we never allow that step into independent world-building and imagination to take root, and by showing your kid a film of something that is also a book before they read it, you’re removing the chance for that book to be the One That Made Books Awesome.
I encourage kids I’ve taught and their parents I’ve talked with to make it a routine – kid sees a movie trailer they like and are excited about. Tell them you’ll take them once they’ve either read it independently or you read it with them. It’s fun to discuss, compare/contrast, and develop an opinion on them. Kids will have an incentive to read. And who knows? They might beg for every other book that author ever wrote, and then you know you did something right.
What’s the One That Made Books Awesome to you? Comment and share!