Books and Movies: A Tribute in Honor of Gone Girl
As an M.F.A. graduate (finally!!!!), I have read embarrassingly few books in my free time (oops). Gone Girl is one of my few for-fun reads in the last three years and it compelled me so much as to read it, on the Kindle app on my phone, in bed, until midnight, on a weekday night. If you know me, you know how late midnight is for me. The novel was by far my favorite that I’ve read this year (in the last few years, actually), and I’m looking forward to the movie (plus, bonus! Ben Affleck stars. The best.).
In honor of Gone Girl, which comes out on the best day of the year, by the way—October 3rd—I started thinking about other novels that have become movies. There’s the age-old question of whether the book or movie is better, and whether it matters which one you get your hands on first. Sometimes, I really don’t think it does matter. For example, I saw The Notebook before I read the book, but would that have changed the fact that the film far surpasses the novel? No. Nicholas Sparks is many things, but a talented writer, he is not. (Although he’s done pretty well for himself...).
Sometimes the movies are quite independent from the books. The Town follows a similar plot but the tone of the novel it's based on, Prince of Thieves (at least the first hundred pages that I’ve read so far), is much different, much more raw and vulgar, than the movie. Hollywood needs to change things, tone them down and tweak them, and as a writer I have to wonder if the authors care. Do you care, when your book is being adapted by a Hollywood superstar, if they change your characters, your plots, your endings?
And we can’t forget about those movies where pop culture has enveloped the film and all but forgotten about the book—Mean Girls, Field of Dreams, and Forrest Gump are just a few that are based on novels but seldom discussed in conjunction with their literary inspirations. I love books--love them. I always have. But the iconic “people will come, Ray” is largely quotable because of James Earl Jones’ cadence and demeanor in delivery. Gone With the Wind’s sweeping theatrics look majestic on the screen in a way that the novel conjures in readers' minds but the movie captures in viewers' eyes and ears. There’s just some things that only the movies can do.
And all of my M.F.A. instructors simultaneously cringed. Don't worry, I know there are some things only books can do, too.
PS--for those of you who wonder why October 3rd is the best day of the year, pay attention.