Mostly Our Imagination: Part II

        Even after accepting and understanding the fact that films and novels are separate forms of entertainment, that material from a novel will be left out of a cinematic adaptation, I find that it is hard for a film to overtake its literary counterpart in quality and popularity. I fully understand the necessity for film makers to condense material from a book in order to make a more effective movie. I do not hold film makers at fault for straying from the literary material they are adapting from. Still, however, I rarely come across a movie that I enjoy more than the book it is based on. Rather than accuse the film makers of the world of being incapable, I will examine another reason for this conundrum, our imagination.

        Our minds are capable of creating fantastic settings and characters. When we read a novel our mind forms the story in our head. We give faces to the characters, we paint grand landscapes as they are described to us in print, and we direct the story in our minds as we read it with our eyes. We form opinions and ideas on people, places, and things from the books we read. We grow to love or hate different characters based on how our minds interpret them from the literature. It is understandable then, that we balk at accepting someone else's interpretation in a film when we spent eight-hundred pages developing our own interpretation. We might think a character in a movie looks nothing like what we pictured in our minds. We might think someone in the movie acts completely different than we thought they would be based upon our interpretation of them when we read the novel. Take, for example, Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights. In the 1939 William Wyler film I found Heathcliff (Rex Downing/Laurence Olivier) more humane and sincere. Changes were made to the character throughout the film to help audiences relate to him. A scene in the 1847 Emily Brontė novel involved Heathcliff demanding Hindley to give him his horse. In the film, however, it is Hindley (Douglas Scott) who demands Heathcliff's horse. They are subtle differences, but they add up to paint a different picture than the one I had painted in my head from reading the book.

Darryl Brandon Clark