The Harry Potter series, on the other hand, has become a popular movie franchise for a much different reason. The book series has a very deep story with an incredible amount of detail, and is very popular in its own right, but the books are very long. The length of the books, for many people, is a major deterrent. By bringing these stories to film, movie goers are able to experience these amazing stories without having to commit to the time it takes to read such long books. It is sad that this is the case, but it is a reality of the world today.
Another reason that some movies overshadow the original books is the matter of obscurity. Although it was a best seller, I had no idea that Forrest Gump was originally a book before working on this unit. Maybe I missed the (shrimp) boat, but I had no idea that the movie was actually a book adaptation. I do not think I am alone in the fact that I don’t realize that certain movies are actually based on books. From a quick Google search, I was able to determine that many movies that I love were actually inspired by books, including The Blindside, The Princess Bride, and The Shawshank Redemption.
Even though this shift in popularity happens, I do not think that it necessarily diminishes the quality or importance of the original text. Throughout this unit, I have come to fully embrace the idea that film and text are totally separate mediums and should be treated as such. Just as each popular film has its merits, so too does the original text from which it was derived.
Fidelity to the Original
A movie like City of Ember, on the other hand, was not successful in its adaptation of the book by the same name. In the book, two kids have to discover the way out of an underground city set up to ensure the survival of humans on the Earth. The problem is, no one in the city realizes that they are underground, so no one knows that they should escape. The protagonists of the story decide that something needs to be done since the city is running out of food, water, and electricity to a dangerous level. In this movie, the filmmakers changed the plot by altering key details and strayed from the feel of the original text. In addition, they focused on minute details from the book, such as when the man returns from a failed escape attempt with stories of huge monsters. In the book, the man is made out to be mentally unstable and progressively tells more exaggerated tales. It is literally less than a page worth of material. In the movie, however, the filmmakers took this small detail and made it a major element of the film by adding in giant sized moles and beetles. These were undoubtedly added to create more drama and action, but were unnecessary and take away from the engrossing story told by Jeanne DuPrau. The filmmakers go as far as changing how the heroes eventually escape from the city, creating a huge shift away from the plot of the original book. If the filmmakers had taken inspiration from The Wizard of Oz perhaps they would have been able to create a more successful interpretation of such a great book.