Always Read the Play or Novel First

     It can be assumed that everyone has experienced the horrible ordeal of what an author is trying to say. A film adaptation of written literature plays an important role by giving a physical reference to the audience.

     I know there has been more than one occasion where I have been reading a piece of written literature and had a hard time conjuring up the way some character should look or how some characters should act and so on. Sometimes it can be a really big nuisance because my attention will start to wander from the story, and I get confused. I always get excited when a movie comes out that is based on a book I am reading because it gives me a kind of reference. It gives me something to base an opinion on; and it sometimes gives me a better idea on the flow of the story. Plus, when I go back and read the book or literary work again it is easier to grasp.

     Of course, problems arise more often than not when adapting written literature to film. A good example can be found in A Doll's House, directed in 1973 by Joseph Losey, and starring Jane Fonda and David Warner, based on the 1879 play by Henrik Ibsen. I had the impression that this household is rather tense, and the whispers of an argument lurk everywhere at all times. I was given the impression that the "perfect" little life is not so perfect after all. The play gave me a very vivid image of a family that is slowly falling apart. On the other hand we have the film. With its washed-out colors and sub-par acting, I was left when an impression of a movie that should have never been made. The acting was hardly heated and intense, but rather, it seemed as if Jane Fonda and David Warner had both been injected with high doses of a powerful sedative. It almost created a dream state for me; it seemed as if the actors were floating through the frames and off into "Never Never Land." What we have here is a classic example of what "the people" should never hear about or see because it does not due justice to the literary work.

     Fortunately, not all film adaptations of written literature fall short. A recent and excellent adaptation is The Green Mile, written and directed in 1999 by Frank Durabont and based on the serial novel of the same name by Stephen King. I read the novel and saw the movie twice, and I must say Mr. Durabont is a genius. He conveyed every heart-wrenching aspect of the novel beautifully through flashbacks. While he did have to alter a few aspects, the movie did not suffer anything in the way of story. On the same note, whoever cast the movie should be given an award because the acting was phenomenal.

     Literary works adapted to film may not always hold true, but they do give the audience something to grasp or take reference to. Although it can be difficult to determine, the viewer should learn to decide which ones are worthy and which ones deserved to be burned.

Chris McCarty

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