Ever since the birth of films, directors and script writers have drawn inspiration from countless things surrounding their lives. It wouldn’t be a surprise if most of it came from novels. So naturally, based on either public demand or not, production houses started dwelling on the otherwise complete story-line built up by famous authors. There’s no doubt that highly acclaimed books like Pride and Prejudice, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Godfather and Schindler’s List would win the audience without having to worry about missing a few scenes. But there are a few movies which never got accepted and remained in the lukewarm region forever.
Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice was one of the most highly anticipated movies of 2016 but apparently, it failed to please the majority for a variety of reasons – that it didn’t justify the title or that hint of formation of Justice League was not grand enough. Though this was adapted from a comic book, it is quite understandable as to why there was a lot of pressure back then. Movies based on comic books slowly started gaining momentum after Iron Man blew up everyone’s expectations. The key thing nobody noticed that Robert Downey Jr. was born to do this role and even if the plot was doomed, he’d go right to the bottom and single-handedly save the crashing airplane with his pinky finger. So, when a fictional character (knife stabs through heart) is brought to life, it’s the actor’s sole responsibility to enact ultimate perfection. But sometimes even that wouldn’t suffice as we were subjected to BVS: DOJ where the acting was top class but it clearly missed that sort of ‘goosebumpy’ feeling you’re supposed to get when Superman exhibits his ‘Request for trust’ through his eyes and in that moment, you know it’s going to end gloriously, which did happen and it happened so fast that you didn’t get a chance to get acquainted with it. The scenes didn’t let you live them, which is why probably most of the comic book fans weren’t supportive of this Zack Snyder adaptation.
Building a script from a book is probably the toughest thing to do because it takes real skill to skip out unnecessary scenes and bring words to life. And Francis Ford Coppola did it beautifully in The Godfather series leaving us in a dumbstruck pause for a long time. In The Godfather (Part 1), Al Pacino displayed a perfect rendition of dilemma in those particular scenes where he had to decide whether or not he should be a part of his ‘family business’ which is highly intensified after Don Corleone suffers a heart attack. Mario Puzo himself co-wrote the script alongside Francis Ford Coppola, making the result far more exciting than one would expect. There’s a reason why most directors/script-writers invite the authors to the set to help them around and The Godfather Trilogy is a perfect example if anybody asks that question again.
Closely safeguarding all the classics at one end of the spectrum, we’re left with a million YA fictional stories that got adapted to the big screen. While most of them left us with infatuations about dreamy guys with heart-melting one liners, movies like The Fault in Our Stars, The Hunger Games, Perks of Being a Wallflower, Me Before You or Papertowns weren’t appreciated by non-readers, mostly because of two reasons – they hadn’t read the book to form a foundation of all the characters and they don’t like the reader community who already know the story. Also, most of the people tagged these movies as ‘Romantic one time watch only’ which is absurd. Who writes “Some infinities are bigger than other infinities” or “Hope is the only thing stronger than fear” in a romantic book? And the word Romance has always been a dirty word. The idea of someone who loves a romantic novel/movie is underwhelming and if you’re one of them, then I’m sorry because you will be judged. You will be called a bowl of mush/ hopeless romantic/dramebaaz and what not, because you are not allowed to romanticise a sunset, a place like Pondicherry or Paris, getting wet in the rain or anything under the sun that’s closely related to love. Even though most people hadn’t read The Godfather Trilogy, it was easy to accept the story because it reeked of realism and the history of Dons have long lived for that sort of approval. But YA stories are not easy to accept because most of them exaggerate life and it doesn’t make any sense to accept the love we think we deserve.
Books written by well-known authors like J.K. Rowling and C.S. Lewis faced the test too. The third instalment in the series – Prisoner of Azkaban is a child of mastermind and creativity. Though it didn’t have any major magical duel or dragon fighting, it encompassed the meaning of life that Harry Potter was trying to find but it seemed to have hit the Box Office pretty hard and was one of the lowest grossing movies of the entire series. Like Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian was widely unamused because it missed a bridge between Aslan and the Prince, an important element any of the movies from the series should never forget. The other massive fandom being Lord of The Rings Trilogy and prequel, had very high stakes and expectations. Featuring renowned actors like Christopher Lee and Ian McKellen, the movies were bound to hit stardom in no matter of time. The story itself was a hero and needed no sort of additional hoopla to cater to the audience because it knew its fans more than anyone else. This would suggest that we obsess over every book based film that’s ever been made but that’s not the idea. There sure is a fine line between a classic and one that’s a miss – still, a better love story than (fill this blank)?
Though the debate on why movies based on books occasionally do well is on the table for generations, the quote “The book was way better, man” will always be effortlessly chanted during the credits. Apart from the storyboard, certain characters like Elizabeth Bennet, Tyler Durden, Bilbo Baggins, Clarice Starling, Michael Corleone, John McClane, Harry Potter, Andrea Sachs, Atticus Finch or Ellis Boyd ‘Red’ will never be forgotten because of the people we call actors and their skill called – “I know what I’m doing”. So, some movies made the cut and some didn’t – mainly because either the audience was not amused by the fast-forward depiction of a character’s life on screen or it just did not make the cut because you need two ends of the scale to judge a book based movie.
Written by - Sajida Ayyup