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‘The book was better’

Jim's Jams

November 28, 2012
Jim Krajewski ( , The Daily Freeman Journal

Jam of the week: "Sounds Like Love (Instrumental)" by J Dilla

If you read my column regularly, you'll know that I'm much more of a film and television buff than a regular reader. Judge me how you will for that, but the visual element of storytelling has always greatly compelled me in works of fiction.

This differs greatly from my girlfriend, Abbie. She spent most of her young life in a library while I spent mine going through my parent's movie collection. That isn't to say that she doesn't also enjoy many of the television series and films that I do. We caught up to the HBO series "Game of Thrones" in about a week together. After we finished the second and most recent season, she started reading the series, collectively titled "A Song of Ice and Fire."

While the books have only enhanced her appreciation for that particular series, there are plenty of examples where that was not the case. I remember seeing, or rather being dragged to "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," with her when it came to theaters. I won't forget the regret I felt asking her what she thought of it on the ride home.

Her disappointment stemmed from the events portrayed in the film rather than how they were portrayed. The addition of the burning of the Weasley home was about as annoying as the things the film left out. My opinion was less negative, because in all honesty I only read up to the fourth book "The Goblet of Fire." Yes, people have chastised me in disbelief that I didn't finish the series.

That aside, I think my answer to the age-old question of how film adaptions of books succeed lies in her opinions of both works. That is, when a series has input from the author and enough time to adequately cover the events of a book, it tends to be better for it.

George R. R. Martin, author of the "A Song of Ice and Fire" series, has worked closely with the HBO production of his works. He has even told major plot points of the series, which still has two books planned, to the producers in case of his untimely demise. The format of HBO shows also works well for the series with hour long, commercial free episodes.

In contrast, the Harry Potter series couldn't fit all of the book's events into eight films, and suffered for it. While J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series consulted the films, it was more to make sure that the film's producers didn't cut anything essential.

The reason I chose to write about this topic is because an interesting exception to the rule is coming back into the limelight. "The Hobbit" is releasing in theaters Dec. 14, and is the prequel to the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. The film series received massive critical acclaim, and drew me into the series much more than trying to read "The Fellowship of the Ring" at age 12 did. No matter how much my dad insisted his friend's worn paperback book lent to me was a classic, I could not summon the will to read it. However, the films astounded me even after years of exposure to a genre that J. R. R. Tolkien largely built himself.

Having passed away in 1973, Tolkien had no input into the recent film trilogy or "The Hobbit," which will be released in three parts. I'm sure there's someone reading this now that would argue the film adaptations were not perfect, and I'll give you that credit just by getting through that series. It would be impossible to get every detail of his works into film, let alone one film per book.

Abbie is much more excited than I for the release of "The Hobbit." Her dad read it to her as a young child, and she's never fully recovered from the spiders in the book. I'm still excited, and I'll be interested to see what she thinks of the film.

So, what is the lesson from this column if one can be gleamed from it? Read more? That's what Abbie would say. Don't get too angry about mediocre film adaptations of books because of the differences of the mediums? I kind of like how that sounds, especially since it leads into the better lesson that Hollywood is just going to keep churning out adaptations instead of original works, so you might as well get used to it.



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