“Don’t judge a book by its movie”
Don’t judge a book by its movie”

Don’t judge a book by its movie”

So says the mar­quee in front of a book­store on the Lougheed High­way in Maple Ridge. And it’s true, so true.

I watched a bunch of movie trail­ers online yes­ter­day and I can say with all cer­tainty that I will not be going to see Cor­aline. Why do film makers think they have to exag­ger­ate everything? If a scene is excit­ing and intense in a book why is it not pos­sible to repro­duce that intens­ity on screen without over­blow­ing it? A battle scene does not have to be twenty minutes long and keep going until every item in the vicin­ity has been either smashed, blown up, or used as a weapon. Writers work really hard to cre­ate great scenes in their books. Some even suc­ceed. 😉 And yet film makers don’t seem to trust that what they’ve been giv­en is bet­ter than some­thing new. 

I liked a lot about the movie of Star­dust. But the open­ing scene was dumb, and the big over­blown nev­erend­ing battle scene at the end wrecked the whole thing for me. Robert De Niro was hil­ari­ous, but why did Yvaine call Tristan (and he’s Tris­tran in the book) him “a mor­on”? That did not work. So many parts of the book they could have fol­lowed but did­n’t. And though I liked a lot about it I was really dis­ap­poin­ted with Stardust.

I was talk­ing the oth­er day about A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. I was told a while ago that it had been made into a movie, too. When I told my daugh­ter so she said imme­di­ately, “I don’t want to see it!” I under­stand what she means, because I feel the same way. My ima­gin­a­tion has cre­ated such a vivid pic­ture of what that story looks and feels like that I don’t want to wreck it by see­ing someone else’s inter­pret­a­tion. I was pretty cau­tious about Lord of the Rings, too, but Peter Jack­son et al took such pains to main­tain the integ­rity of the story and I loved it. (I had great dif­fi­culty with the changes to the Two Towers, with Frodo being taken to Gondor by Fara­mir and all, but when I watched the dis­cus­sion about it in the exten­ded ver­sion their reas­on­ing made sense).

Now Cor­aline is a book I read out loud to my kids in a single after­noon. I had asked them sev­er­al times if they’d like me to read it to them and they said, “No.” So one day as they played on the liv­in­groom floor with their trains and whatever else, I sat on the couch and just star­ted read­ing to them. They kept play­ing. They were listen­ing, though. Soon they stopped play­ing and kept listen­ing. And not long after that they were up on the couch with me, listen­ing and rapt. If I tried to stop they said, “Keep reading!”

It took sev­er­al hours, but we read the entire book.

And now the movie is com­ing out. The trail­er shows that it is com­puter gen­er­ated anim­a­tion, which is fine. [Upon fur­ther read­ing I have learned it is 3D stop motion. That’s fine too] I think it would be bet­ter live action, but that’s ok. No, the trouble I can see right away is that it’s a lot more col­our­ful than the way I see the story. Added to that it looks like they’ve taken the story com­pletely away from its dark sim­pli­city, that spine-tingling fear of all those things kids are afraid of. From the trail­er, it looks like they’ve turned it into a big spec­tac­u­lar extra­vag­anza. I don’t know… I found the book down­right eer­ie, and the movie does not look that way at all. I can just see them over­blow­ing everything, the way film­makers tend to do these days.

Henry Selick has an altern­ate vis­ion of the story from mine. Oh well. Enjoy every­one. I will stay home and keep my vis­ion of it to myself. 

Or maybe I’ll watch it, but with only one eye…