The kinds of book-related movies I’m okay with

October 25, 2011 § 7 Comments

As I’ve said before, I’m opposed to books being adapted to film, even when those films turn out great because I think they take the emphasis off of reading. I don’t dislike movies, or even think they are generally inferior to books, I just think that both should be enjoyed and books tend to be more neglected by our society at this point in time.  That said, there are some movies that are book/reading/author inspired that I fully support.

Which brings me to Anonymous (the movie, not the hacker group).

If you neglected to watch the above, it all boils down to this line from the trailer: “We all know William Shakespeare… but what if I told you that Shakespeare never wrote a single word.”

Now if I had to guess (and judging from discussion threads I’ve seen elsewhere), that premise probably rumples some feathers out there of the diehard Shakespeare fans and English teachers. The thing is, Anonymous is a work of fiction (and from what I’ve heard, takes liberties even with well-known history of the man and period).  I have no reason to believe that the movie will be spectacular, or even decent–though the trailer is enough to convince me to take a chance on it–but the thing I love about it is that I can’t see it ruining a Shakespeare play for anyone.  If anything, I think that the hype of the movie could get some people intrigued about Shakespeare who otherwise wouldn’t have been.  They may not run to the library for a copy of Hamlet, but they might look a little more in depth at who the man was and learn a little bit about one of the western world’s most influential playwrights in the process.  I guess I just don’t see this as the blasphemy some people are claiming it is.

Again I am not talking about movies adapted from books, but in general I think books and reading could be leveraged more effectively in mediums other than the written word. I think ‘book trailers’ are a great idea (especially when they don’t look like they were made by the author’s 12-year-old son on imovie), not to mention interactive websites and graphic novels that build on the worlds that novels create. I think that movies like Anonymous–whatever you think about the movie itself–leverage video for the benefit of books, even if that is not their primary goal.

So what are your thoughts about Anonymous? Will you see it? Do you think it will drive anyone to Shakespeare? Will it cause irreparable damage to Will’s image? Can you think of any other movies about books, reading, or authors that aren’t based on a work but spread the word about the work or person or reading as a whole? I think The Pagemaster is another great example of a movie that tries to get people excited about reading, without ruining any good books.

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§ 7 Responses to The kinds of book-related movies I’m okay with

  • The movies really are never as good as the books and something is always changed for the movie script. Plus, I like how MY version of the characters look, act and talk. I really try to avoid watching movies that are adapted from books.

  • I’m leaning towards seeing this movie. I’ll have to look into it a little more.
    The Pagemaster…boy, that takes me back

  • stoehrkr says:

    Devil’s advocate:

    I have seen movies inspire children to read the book. And on occasion the movie trailer actually inspired me to read a book.

    Granted that was mostly because I knew the book would be better than the movie and if it looks good on screen it would be a pretty sweet book. Overall I generally agree that adaptations generally suck away potential readers and limits the ability of your mind to explore and create worlds. I do still refuse to watch the Harry Potter films so the world is not destroyed in my mind. However, I have inspired a kid to read “Hunger Games” because I said first that it was one of the best books in our library and second that the movie was coming out in March and I would take her to the midnight showing if she read the book!

    On another note Anonymous does sound interesting and will provide much fuel for high school English teachers which is always good (and I would probably check it out but the nearest theater being in another state and only 2 screens lessens the likelihood that I’ll be there at the right time). I do think that screen adaptations of plays can be extremely insightful and I think that screen adaptations of books can be the same way too. If you look at the director’s choice of how to portray situations, what to focus on, it can actually add to the intellectual conversation surrounding a book. Talking with people about books is incredibly fun because we each bring a different perspective. Film simply allows one person to share their perspective and join in on that conversation.

  • kat says:

    Movies about books . . . I think The Raven, with John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe, looks interesting. Apparently, a murderer is killing people in ways inspired by Poe’s works (Pit and the Pendulum, for example) and Poe is called upon to help solve the case. Looks a bit hokey, but like Anonymous, I’ll probably give it a view.

    • R. H. Culp says:

      That’s another great example of the same kind of thing. I just think (and maybe this is naive) that those kinds of movies get people curious about the real people.

  • Solo says:

    I know it was actually based on a book, so it doesn’t quite meet your criteria… but ‘The Hours’ got me fascinated with Virginia Woolf and I immediately went out and bought biographies, followed by her own work.
    Last year I also stumbled across a fictionalised autobiography of Woolf and Bell which was pretty interesting.

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