Days 14-16 of the book challenge remind me of an ongoing battle I have regarding books being turned into films or tv shows. I’ve harped on it before, yes, but I think this time it’s different. I’m not making a case for reading a book instead of seeing the film. Go ahead, do both. See if I care. And for that matter, you should do both. It makes you more “universal” and shows you discrepancies that allow you to pick a favorite. Let me use the book challenge to show you what I mean.
Day 14: Book turned movie and completely desecrated – Easy peasy lemon squeasy. “Troy” was the movie based on Homer’s The Iliad. Boy howdy did they butcher that epic! I get that a lot of the main elements of the book would be hard to translate to film, such as the intervention of the gods. The storyline would be moving right along in a certain direction that seemed to leave the characters with no escape plan, then BOOM, deus ex machina shows Athena or whomever literally reaching down and moving her favorite mortals into more strategic places. Each time this left the story sort of like a TomTom; it spent time “recalculating” these changes into a revised course of events. Film can’t show Aphrodite reaching down to pluck Paris out of a battle he would’ve lost, so the film has to change the story a bit in order to redesign Paris’s escape. “Troy” takes too many liberties, though. About halfway through, they killed a main character who lives long after that point in the epic, and I could not even believe what had just happened! Plus, they make Menelaus and Agamemnon super ugly and brutish and dumb so that they seem like the bad guys, when that clearly isn’t the way of things. I’m obviously partial to the original epic, so I’m not surprised that it let me down, but I didn’t expect it to be SO bad.
Day 15: Favorite male character – Also easy; Frankenstein’s monster from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Frankenstein’s monster is the star of the show. Everyone else is irritating and needy and proud, but surprisingly the monster is the one with the most mild and relatable demeanor. Shelley uses her book as an example of the strife of the solitary creation, being very little understood, painfully lonely, and uncertain as to the purpose of its existence. A lot of her novel can be compared to the story of God creating mankind, but in Shelley’s interpretation, the monster is able to confront his creator, question his motives, and demand the only element of human equality he can possibly get, a partner. The monster has a monologue at one point that is so eloquent and meaningful, including thoughts way more introspective than any of the human characters ever have. I love this character. This clearly is not reflected in most films or anything Frankenstein-related even. He is always depicted as a mumbling, stumbling, jumbo-sized mental patient. Few features even bother showing the enlightened version of the monster, but prefer to show the zipper-necked dummy society has come to expect. Whatever.
Day 16: Favorite female character – This one is less easy; I love Hermione from the Harry Potter series, as well as Arya from the Song of Ice and Fire series. They are both strong-minded, capable and intelligent. It’s too common for women to be shown as dependant on some male character for one reason or another. To create an independently acting and thinking woman who needs no man’s help to get what she wants is refreshing and very welcome in the midst of all the Twilight-like books. Young, impressionable female readers need a couple of good female role models, and Hermione & Arya are perfect candidates for that job, not just in the books but also in the movies/tv show. Harry Potter has made eight movies following Hermione’s growth in maturity, strength, and intelligence. I admire her character as much in the movies as in the books and Emma Watson is perfect in the role; both beautiful and strong. Arya is the only narrating character in every one of Martin’s books (so far) and she’s in nearly every episode of HBO’s “A Game of Thrones” series. She’s best described as fierce and her tv character, played by Maisie Williams, is a perfect portrayal of her book self. She goes through so many of the most intense experiences, and repeatedly comes out stronger than before. I love seeing these characters translated into film/tv, and think that this time, they hit the nail right on the head with these roles.
Hannah’s turn, once she finds time! We’re busy bees. Let us know what you think and stay tuned for a Silmarillion review.