Mostly Our Imagination: Part I

        It is a tricky task taken on time and time again in the film industry, and that is adapting a piece of literature to the big screen. Often times the product is of great quality; often times the efforts seem lackluster; rarely are fans of the given piece of literature pleased with the result. If you are fan of cinema or of literature, or both, you have more than likely heard the phrase, "the book was better," or "the movie was not as good as the book." It is a rare instance when a film based on a literary piece of work surpasses the latter in quality in the eyes of the masses. One such example would be The Godfather, directed in 1972 by Francis Ford Coppola, based on a novel by Mario Puzo, who would also assist on the screenplay, but other examples are few and far between. One wonders if the film industry lacks the talent and great minds of the authors around the world, or if there is another explanation for this perceived discrepancy in quality between two entertainment venues.

        One must to take into account the length of source material when considering the adaptation of literature to film. Many literary fanatics will complain first about the fact that so much material from their favorite novel was left out of its audio-visual counterpart. What many of these die-hard fans fail to realize is that there is often an unavoidable necessity to limit the amount of material used from the novel in the film. This is to spare the audience from sitting through six and seven hour movies. In the 1939 film Wuthering Heights William Wyler elected to disregard the entire second half of the 1847 Emily Brontė novel and focus on the first half for his cinematic adaptation. Does that make Wuthering Heights a bad film? No, bad acting or a terrible adapted script could have tarnished the movie, but the fact that it did not cover the entire span of the novel should not make it a bad film. Audiences must concede the fact that films and novels are two separate forms of entertainment. They should stand alone when one is viewing and critiquing the film or reading the novel.

Darryl Brandon Clark