The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU students gather around a bucket of markers to write an encouraging note to put in “Welcome to the Shelter” kits at event in mid-April on SMU’s campus.
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Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024
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Why do movie adaptations suck?

Harry Potter started it all.

With “The Sorcerer’s Stone,” you have a slow, but relatively easy-to-follow film. Until the climax. When it hits, the movie becomes difficult to understand. A lot of the explanations go down the drain, leaving the audience to figure out what’s going on for themselves. And since most of the audience had been fans of the series, the movie received decent ratings.

But, as the rest of the series was adapted, less and less of the wizarding world was explained. “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” was the first movie of the series I watched. I hadn’t yet read the books, and as a result, most of the movie was confusing. However, after reading the series, and I found that I could follow the action pretty well. This situation is also true of the Twilight Saga, the Percy Jackson series and last month’s release of “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.”

While all of these adaptations are decent films for long-term fans, most of the details and plot developments become confusing for unread audience members. Reading the associated novel before viewing the film should not be a requirement for the audience. Instead, scripts should be written with the idea of making a good movie, regardless of the novel’s original plot.

Dear Hollywood, a movie adaptation should not just be a transcript of the original novel. Film is an entirely different art form, and some aspects of the novels will be hard to carry across. Approach the script like you would for an original film. Be clear, precise and don’t leave the audience with any lingering questions. If that forces you to tweak the original plot, then go ahead. I’d rather see a great movie that strays from the book than a horrible one that doesn’t fully represent the original ideas of
the novel.

If you’re worried that a few changes will scare away fans, you’re wrong. You had them from the start. They’ll see the movie purely out of love for the book. And if the movie is made well, new fans will join the bandwagon.

A great example of this is “The Hunger Games.” The movie explains the context of the plot very well, and does tweak some aspects from the novel. A character is left out – but not missed – and a few extra scenes with the villains really sell the tension between the tributes and the Capitol. Most importantly, (aside from the superimposed text in the very beginning) everything is explained visually. Overall, “The Hunger Games” sells itself not as an adaptation, but as an actual movie. This is how it’s done.

Reading the novel should not be a begrudged idea, only acted upon to understand the film. Instead, it should be an added bonus for the audience – a chance to go a little deeper into the world so brilliantly presented on screen. An adapted movie should be enjoyable to everyone. Book readers or not.

Aguirre is a sophomore majoring in journalism and political science.

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