It Might Not Be as Good as the Book, but It Made More Money

        There are a number of problems involved in adapting a book or a play into a film. Changes become necessary, be it for marketing purposes, length, or someone feels that adopting some aspects would not work. Fans of original works may hate these changes, but they are in an attempt to connect with a larger audience.

        Changing a story for marketing is common. Emily Brontëís 1847 Wuthering Heights seems as if it would be hard sell for audiences. The central character is going out of his way to make life hell for everyone around him. Characters die of illness with little warning and the story shifts focus halfway through. William Wylerís 1939 film version clearly has a more broad appeal with its happy ending for the main characters.

        Length is another problem. A large book could make for a very long movie if everything were adapted. In some cases, slower aspects of a story are cut to maintain the audiencesí attention.

        In some cases areas of a work may simply not work as the original author might have intended. Taking again from Wuthering Heights, if it were told completely from Nellyís point of view with her always being present, a viewer might believe that she (Flora Robson) is a little more important in the overall story than she is. Or in the case of Jack Claytonís 1961 The Innocents, the movie version of Henry Jamesís 1898 The Turn of the Screw, presenting the ghosts on screen as possibly a delusion to the governess (Deborah Kerr) might confuse viewers too much and hurt the word of mouth reputation of the film.

        I believe that the changes from The Turn of the Screw to The Innocents are the best example of making these changes without hurting the original work. Henry Jamesís story was confusingly written, with details being lost. The Innocents made Jamesís story more accessible, and it felt more chilling than the original work.

Jeremy Workman