Film and TV Adaptations: To Watch Or Not To Watch?

Recently I have felt bombarded by film adaptations of books I have read and loved. I seem to avoid watching films based on books I have read, for example, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is a much loved read for me, but I shy from seeing the film as I don’t want my perception of it tainted by someone else’s adaptation. The same goes for Divergent but not The Hunger Games, which I eagerly watched and forgave discrepancies between book and film. Go figure!

It seems I’m inexplicably selectively reticent about seeing films based on bestselling books; I was a huge fan of The Silence of the Lambs and the related films that followed. I loved The Woman In Black by Susan Hill and tolerated the film that followed. I would love to see The Woman in Black: The Angel of Death, the second film playing in the cinema currently but I see both of these films as a completely different entity to the book. Perhaps because I love horrors I am compelled to see one based on a book I read without worrying about it tainting my idea of the book?

I loved the film The Ring and it’s sequel and eagerly await the third film which has been in the ether for some time now. I read the first book Ring by Koji Suzuki but drifted away from finishing the second book Loop. It bore no resemblance to the film sequel and took the story in an entirety different direction, but I love horror and am willing to overlook discrepancies between The Ring franchise and the original books they are based on.

I am currently reading Travelling To Infinity: My Life With Stephen by Jane Hawking and am firmly perched on the fence whether to see the film, The Theory of Everything, based on the book,  in the cinema or not. The book is quite an extensive account of Jane’s life with Stephen Hawking during their twenty-five year marriage and a film adaptation would really have to be something to capture the inspiring spirit of a woman, who jumped into a marriage with a man who, although brilliant, was physically dependent on her. I have deep admiration and respect for Jane Hawkings, but I fear seeing her characterised on screen will ruin my idea and concept of her life formed from the book.

I have yet to see the TV adaptation of The Thirteenth Tale and The Ice-Cream Girls. Both books are up there among my all time favourites and part of me, of course, wants to see the characters come to life but I am again wary of the adaptation spoiling my view of the book.

I tolerate the TV adaptation of the Tess Gerritsen books, Rizzoli and Isles. I think the characters are very likeable on screen but they bear very little resemblance to the characters in the books. Again, I see the TV series as a separate entity to the books.

I suspect I will go and see The Woman In Black: The Angel of Death,  but I doubt I will muster the will to see The Theory of Everything, despite verging on the edge of hero worship of the pragmatic and selfless Jane Hawking.

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10 thoughts on “Film and TV Adaptations: To Watch Or Not To Watch?”

  1. I think you are right to view the books and film/tv as separate entitites sometimes, although it is not always easy. The Kathy Reichs books are a good example of that. The TV series, Bones, bares little resemblance and im being generous, but I view them as two entitites that happen to have characters with the same names. It is more disappointing, at least for me, when you read the books after watching a show – I always expect the books to be better for some reason. The Witches of East End was a good example for me, having quite liked the show but found myself rolling eyes as I read the book.

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    1. Very good point, it works the other way too, where the book can be a drawn out agonising disappointment, like I am finding the Ring series by Koji Suzuki. i love the TV series Bones but yes it has wandered a great distance from the characters in Kathy Reichs books, however the TV series has substance despite the discrepancies.

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  2. Good reading, as usual :).
    I’ve been reticent to watch movies based on the books I’ve read as well.
    I LOVED The Hobbit and LOTR books but was so deeply bored to death by the first Hobbit movie that I didn’t watch the other two since I didn’t want to be disappointed. Nor did I want to see Tolkien’s work butchered
    I watched the original Swedish version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo before I bought the book and have yet to read it or Plays With Fire because I’m scared they won’t live up to the movies.
    I read your comment on Stephen Hawking and my mind jumped to an article in one of this week’s The Mary Sue newsletters where his wife talks about her thoughts on the movie. http://www.themarysue.com/real-jane-hawking-theory-of-everything/ is the link to the article.
    Enjoy.

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    1. Thanks for the link. I am even more conflicted about seeing the film, she gives it high praise indeed.

      I am so not a fan of Lord Of The Ring franchise either, with the risk of getting lynched, the films are a snore fest. Yes, I read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series and loved it and still have not watched the original or the Daniel Craig remakes. I maybe missing out but I loved the books too much to see the adaptations.

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      1. You’re very welcome 🙂
        I have heard that the Dragon Tattoo movie did do credit to the book but I am still scared, lol.
        I have seen both the Swedish and American versions (Stellan Skarsgard is in the American one (I think it’s the American one)) and enjoyed both of them but am partial to the Swedish one. Partly because it was the first one I saw but mostly because I would rather see a movie in it’s original version with subtitles because I feel that quite a bit can be lost in the translations of words and actions when Americanizing them.
        Before the Southern Vampire Mysteries adaptation into True Blood I didn’t mind so much but they (HBO) totally burned me for adaptations since they screwed it up so much.
        Of course, I’m no longer a fan of SVM either since the actual author screwed things up so badly *sigh*. Although I’ll read and reread the fanficiton all day! lol

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  3. Even with critical acclaim I’m inexplicably resistant to hang on to my imaginings of books. It’s hard when a series takes a turn that doesn’t work for you, that is one of the reasons I don’t knowingly read the long running series of books like Alex Cross etc. I started reading the Tess Gerritsen and Karin Slaughter books from when they’d written their first few thrillers and so far I have stayed with developments hoping not to be disappointed.

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  4. I went to see Gone Girl and Before I Go To Sleep whose books I loved reading but I didn’t enjoy seeing them on the big screen. I’m the only person I know who didn’t enjoy them and I don’t know why.

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