Lorraine Sears is a reader, writer, editor and writing forum moderator. Her short stories can be found in a number of e-zines, e-books and anthologies. Her ultimate goal is the publication of her paranormal romance series ‘Soul Takers’, and the Jack the Ripper novel she is co-writing.
Lorraine is married, living in Bucks, UK with her husband, two children and assorted pets.
I am as much a lover of films as I am of books.Both media are represented equally in my heart, although I do find reading to be a much more personal experience.But when Hollywood gets its hands on a book with the intention of turning it into a film, I always greet the news with more than a little trepidation.
There are so many examples of good stories turned bad by the vision of a director and screen writer or the selection from the casting couch.Most grievous crimes that spring to mind have to be the atrocities that befell certain Stephen King books. I am, of course, referring to IT and Needful Things in particular.
However, it must be said that in more recent years the film industry hasn’t caused quite as much damage.Peter Jackson’s interpretation of the Lord of The Rings was amazing, spectacular and of a never-before-seen quality.
The Harry Potter series also did the books proud, with JK Rowling herself giving Warner Brothers and the directors her personal seal of approval.Although for die-hard fans of the books, of course, we would only be truly happy if everything in the books was represented on the screen.Who cares if we have to sit in the cinema all day to watch them?
But let’s not forget that films based on books have another purpose; they introduce reading to a whole new audience.Let’s look at one of the most recent phenomena’s: The Twilight Saga.Twilight – books or films, you either love or hate.But I’m getting into that debate here…
What I want to know is - as the first film was released before the last book had been published how many people saw the film because they’d read the books, or read the books, because they saw the film?It’s a bit of a chicken and egg question. Me, personally, I saw Twilight when it came out in cinemas because it was a vampire film, and at the time I was into vampires.I then went on to read all the books.(If you want to tell me which way round you did it please leave a comment.I’d love to know)
Anyway, last night I saw a film based on a book I’ve recently read.Regular followers of my blog will know how much I loved Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.And this was the first time I’ve made a conscious effort to both read and watch something like that to measure up the quality of one against the other.
My review of Water for Elephants can be found in the ‘Book Review’ page above, so I won’t repeat myself.But just know the book is set against the backdrop of the Depression in 1930’s America and is more or less a love story that takes place at the circus.The book is written in a simplistic style that lets you devote your whole attention to what is a wondrous, often brutal, but always heartfelt story.
The film, of the same title, was released on May 6th in the UK.It’s around two-hours long and stars Robert Pattinson – of Twilight fame, Reece Witherspoon and Christopher Waltz.Christopher Waltz, I must say is one of the most underrated actors on the silver screen today.
I already knew from reviews and trailers what the cast looked like and that one or two main characters from the book had been dropped – their parts and actions combined with the other remaining characters where pivotal to the plot.
The back story to the main character of Jacob was rushed over in the film, probably less than ten minutes.And modern day Jacob, now an old man who starts and ends as narrator is just that.We see almost nothing of his life away from the circus.
The train scenes and circus environment were as wonderful on the big screen as they had been in my imagination - a testament to the skill of the writer for creating such fantastic images in my head and the director for making it happen on the screen.
The acting was very good.As soon as we meet Waltz’s character we know there’s something no quite right about him.Something a bit ‘unhinged’ and that edge never leaves him.I’ve heard critics slam the chemistry between Pattinson and Witherspoon and to be honest, it wasn’t the strongest I’ve seen between two leads, but it was believable never-the-less.
Secondary character didn’t play as bigger parts in the film as they do in the book.And the relationships between them and the MCs are implied rather than demonstrated.The loss I felt when bad things happened to them as I read the book actually reduced me to tears.But on screen this was shown as little more than a flashback and therefore didn’t really carry the same impact.I wanted to care for the characters more than the film allowed me to.
But it must be said that the show (pun totally intended) was most definitely stolen by Rosie, the Polish pachyderm. Not only did I fall in love with this gentle giant in the book, but she was just as amazing on screen.The whole audience in the cinema was behind her and when she hurt they hurt.When Rosie triumphed—and it is one hell of a triumph—I think more than one of us felt like cheering.
Rosie the elephant is the heart of this film, just as she was in the book and she made the whole thing work for me.So what if a few characters were missing, so what if a few scenes were short.All the main elements were there; the good guy, the bad guy, the romance, the circus and, of course, the elephant.Whether or not I should have laughed as the toothless lion chased the rubes I neither know nor care, but I did.It was a great piece of cinema and fun escapism and I enjoyed it as just that.
I’m really glad I read the book the first and knew the story as the author intended.But despite what was left out of the film, the story was still intact.I didn’t feel cheated in any element.I would recommend both book and film to anyone.And that, I think, is the highest compliment I can pay them.