Last night I was trying to think of all of the reasons why we get upset when a movie/show/remake/etc feels unfaithful to its source material.
You all had some great responses so I put them here in a single list, mostly for my own safekeeping but also because the reblog tree branched off in different directions:
I think it’s also that people picture certain scenes and are really enthusiastic about certain scenes, characters, relationships, etc—enthusiastic about the way they were first portrayed in the book. And naturally, they want to see them portrayed that way on screen.
Ownership. It’s not like it was when it was “yours”, as you pictured it in your head.
And I think some fans see alteration of source material as a kind of disrespect for the author, and/or the characters, as well as the understanding of what the original messages were if those get heavily altered in an adaptation.
Some people will just be mad about everything forever because it is a hobby.
Another reason: the change is problematic, involving female or POC erasure or something in that vein.
ownership, which may or may not be tangential to truthfulness. “my interpretation [from source material] is the valid one—the screen version didn’t do it right.”
biggest source of nerd rage i see. “they cast WHO as [beloved character]?!”
Anchoring off “matching the scene”… maybe it’s more about how images created by descriptions are subjective from person-to-person.
So the shade of someone’s green shirt, size of someone’s nose, or length of someone’s hair contrasts from what each unique audience member imagined for themselves while reading the book.
So maybe it’s not about how “the movie wasn’t like the book”. Maybe it’s more about how ”the movie wasn’t like our book”.
yes… but I can still be upset.
I mean, sometimes things that aren’t like the book are also things that are ALWAYS upsetting … like the rape scenes inserted into GoT (or the lack of accuracy to ORIGINAL original source material in adaptations like the Percy Jackson movie)
And please add to this my two smalll suggestions:
- Authenticity/Truthfulness (“That isn’t the way it happened in the book”)
- Incongruence of experience with other fans (“We’re not talking about the same thing.”)
I feel like there has to be a way to frame incongruence with your own previous experience as separate from this pejorative accusation of ‘ownership.’ Like, I am a fanfic writer and reader and I can party with ALL KINDS of interpretations about characters, setting, genre, you name it. But I can still feel a sense of incongruity when I watch a GoT scene I was looking forward to and think, “That’s not what I was expecting.” That doesn’t meant I thought I ‘owned’ the correct interpretation of the scene—it just means I was thrown off in the moment.
Additionally, it’s often difficult to see/understand why changes were made—and I mean bigger changes than the color of someone’s shirt—since as viewers we are not in the writers’ room for these decisions. Something from a book might resonate with me in a way that it didn’t for the writers, or that resonant something might be impossible to carry over for a hundred thousand reasons (feasibility, budget, slightly altered throughline, whatever). And I might think, I can’t understand why this line got altered, it literally doesn’t mean the same thing anymore, though of course the writers could probably tell me exactly why. Again, it’s not a sense of ownership, it’s a sense of suddenly being outside of a process that I thought I had some insight into by virtue of having read the source material.
Adaptations always involve choices. Choosing certain aspects that appeal to you as a creator of necessity means that there are other aspects that you will not choose that will appeal to others. Not to even mention things that you don’t even see in the text that other people find foundational.
I’ll give you a personal example - when I first saw Peter Jackson’s “Fellowship of the Ring” movie I was LIVID at the decision to crosscut between the hobbits and Gandalf’s investigations. Why? Because the central thing I love about Lord of the Rings is that it’s a story about stories, about leaving your insulated home, venturing out into the wider world and as you go, learning the history of the places you see and the people you meet. Its an unfolding journey into the history and wonder of Middle-Earth.
This dynamic is totally and completed destroyed by having Gandalf gallop into Minis Tirith in the beginning of Fellowship. The reveal of the White City is one of the great moments of LotR - for three books we’ve ben hearing about how this place is the hope of humanity, the lost birthright of Aragorn, etc. We’ve heard so much about it that when we finally see it in all its majesty, it’s a hugely powerful moment.
Jackson and his co-writers decided that moment was worth sacrificing. Or they didn’t even see it as a moment.
I fumed and groused about this for a long time, but at some point I just had to accept that this was their interpretation, and all of my complaining wasn’t going to get them to change it. I could either choose to go along with it and take their version for what it was, or i could reject it. In this case, I chose to go along with it. I don’t always. (See recent Star Trek movies).
But as an adapter, this is a good thing. It’s what allows me to watch other people do Shakespeare and love it, and yet still want to do my own versions. There are a few things that I don’t know if I would even want to approach, because the versions I’ve seen are so indelible that I wouldn’t know what to do with them that would be different (Glengarry Glen Ross springs to mind - I don’t think I could ever do that play without it being completely influenced by the movie version.)
But this is how I am able to utterly adore something so flawed as David Lynch’s Dune movie, while still having a clear idea of how I would adapt it.
In the specific case of ASOIAF — a series I read years before there was a TV show because jaybushman told me to so I jumped off that cliff — it is a bummer to learn from reading trades (a thing I do for a living) that one of my favorite POV characters is so completely inessential to the outcome of the book series that she can just be eliminated from the television series.
Dude, Peter Capaldi totally refused to flirt with Clara in the new series.
Damn, I’m so ready for this.
In that same article he states that he’s going to make the story line less confusing/over the top and focus on the plot. I think I’m in love.
It’s sad that this feels groundbreaking.