Pet Peeve #7: Bad Adaptations

I just caught the last 20 minutes of a newer adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion on PBS. (I think it might be my second favorite of Austen’s novels after Pride and Prejudice.) And the twenty minutes was enough to inspire my latest Pet Peeve post. Pet Peeve#7: Unnecessary changes in screen adaptations of novels.

I am not one of those irrational Harry Potter people who whines about every subplot and change the screenwriters make trying to condense an 800 page book into a two-hour movie. Although, I am glad that they realized that they should break down Deathly Hallows into two movies. However, I really get annoyed when books are ruined unnecessarily.

Persuasion Spoiler Alert:

In this particular instance, they have Eleanor Anne running all over town chasing after Captain Wentworth who apparently has super-natural powers to evade her. Even though she follows him out the door of her home two minutes after he leaves, he somehow makes it back to his housing, writes her a letter professing his love for her, commissions a friend to take it to her, goes for a walk with his sister and brother-in-law, and starts working his way back to her house about a million steps a head of her. Would it have been so terrible to follow the book? I think I’ll stick with the older version starring Ciaran Hinds.

I remember being annoyed the same way with the ending of Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightly. Elizabeth and Darcy both go wandering around in the fields barely dressed at sunrise. I understand that the filmmakers wanted to put their own hand print on the old story, but that change was just unnecessary. There is a reason that Miss Austen’s novels are so revered; they are perfect as they are. (Why is that last phrase ringing a bell? Ah, yes, Colin Firth, I mean Mr. Darcy, says the same thing to Bridget Jones.)

While Austen’s works seem destined to be the most butchered on screen, I wonder about other adaptations at times. The one that currently comes to mind is Lost World by Michael Crichton. I thought this sequel to the brilliant book Jurassic Park was pretty good, if a bit intellectually fluffy. But any resemblance between the book and the movie version was strictly coincidental. The only reason they are slightly forgiven is for letting me see Jeff Goldblum as Ian Malcolm again. Jurassic Park III was slightly closer to the second book but not really. Now that I think about it the first book adaptation had some unnecessary changes, too, like reversing the ages and talents of the children. In the book the little girl is so annoying that as my dad says, “You almost hope she gets eaten by a dinosaur.”

So, my plea to screenwriters and directors, “Please respect your audience. Depend on the strength of the story to make your movie strong. And don’t change things unnecessarily.” Yes, I understand that Neville had to give Harry the gilly-weed instead of Dobby, but why in the world did the maze have to be turned into Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors?

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4 Comments on “Pet Peeve #7: Bad Adaptations”

  1. Kelly Says:

    Psst–Her name is Anne. Eleanor is from Sense and Sensibility.

  2. barboo77 Says:

    Thanks for the catch Kelly. I was in a hurry when I wrote this and apparently had a total brain fart. I still say that screenwriters and directors who spend at least a year work on a movie shouldn’t make such mistakes, but often the character names are all they get right.

  3. Kelly Says:

    I totally agree. Did you ever see the newer Mansfield Park where they imply the brother and sister who live at the curate’s house are incestous, and the father is raping slaves on their plantation in the Indies? My memory is a bit blurry because I only watched it once (for obvious reasons) a few years ago, but my jaw kept dropping the entire time.

  4. […] I’m really hoping that in the scene leading up to Dumbledore knocking on the orphanage door the magenta suit is more vibrant, but I have a feeling that all of the pensieve scenes are going to have a kind of black and white thing going on to make them extra creepy.  Which I guess is ok from an artistic point of view, but from a rabid HP fan point of view, it sucks!!  I also really hope that they just truncated that scene for the teaser, because a lot of important information comes from that scene.  (Please see my pet peeve post about Bad Adaptations.) […]

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