March 23, 2009 § 1 Comment
Since the release of the Watchmen film, and the innumerable articles that have sprouted forth from it all over the internet and beyond, I’ve been thinking a lot about film adaptations of books, particularly the things that I dislike the most about them.
One of the points people keep making for Watchmen that I keep seeing is that it’s a faithful retelling of the comic, even to the extent where some scenes are shot almost panel-by-panel. And that really does not interest me in the slightest. In fact, it really puts me off seeing the film, as it generally puts me off seeing most film adaptations.
I know it’s probably a bit of an unpopular opinion, but I’m not interested in films retelling stories, I just want them to make good films. What I want from film adaptations is different stories, with different endings set in the same ‘world’, with the same characters. For example, I think the Harry Potter films really suck. Admittedly, they’ve got a bit better as they’ve went on, but only because of certain scenes and set pieces. I’ve had a far better time reading the stories and imagining everything in my mind, so what I don’t want to see is this scene-by-scene representation of a story I already know. It’s been said before and I’ll say it again: if I wanted that then I’d read the book.
I think telling a different story (obviously as approved by the original author or, if said author is dead, their estate) would also save any “ruining” of books*. I really didn’t want to turn this into a millionth Watchmen article, but I think if they made it with a different story (i.e. if it was about the early days of the Watchmen, when they were at the peak of their crime-fighting days and just as they were all outlawed) then I’d be more inclined to see it. I also think Alan Moore would (maybe, possibly, potentially) have been keener to approve of the film as well. It would’ve also given the studio the big action blockbuster that they were marketing for anyway.
Additionally, a different story could be less likely to confuse a new crowd who have only seen the film and encourage them to read the original book. Like, one of the problems with the Watchmen film that I heard newcomers to the story talk about was just how damn confusing the whole thing was and that entire events happened without much explanation, because they essentially made a $120million film for the nerdishly obsessive fans of a cult comic book who have spent years trying to penetrate the subtext.
Of course, you could say “What about The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or Constantine? They were different from the original stories”, but both of those films were shit. It’s all about making a good movie.
End of presentation.
*Aside: I don’t think you can ever ruin a book. I mean, if you love a book so much, no matter how shitty the film is, the book will still be great when you read it and you’ll envision it the way you envisioned it before.