Thursday, August 14, 2014

Are Movies Made from Books as Good as the Book?

Tomorrow, a movie will be released based on a famous Young Adult (YA) novel - The Giver, by Lois Lowry.  The book was written 20 years ago, on a word processor (remember them?), and is getting a new foreword for the 20th anniversary.

When I read the new foreword, I saw that it was being made into a movie.

When I saw there would be a movie, I said, silently, "Oh please, don't let it be so."

OK, there are some books whose stories translate well into movies.  But I truly don't know how they will do that with The Giver.  Because...well, you'll know if you've read the book.  And if you haven't - well, please do so.

The Giver is not an action packed book filled with fighting and epic battles, like - oh, The Hunger Games (one of the best YA books of all time, in my most humble opinion)  No, The Giver tells a completely different story.  And it seems that, at least nowadays, a movie without battles of some kind, or even a quest, will bore the average moviegoer.

I won't need to issue a Spoiler Alert for the rest of this blog post.  I am not going to give away the plot, or the ending that stayed with me for months when I read the book.  I'll just say there was one thing in the new foreword, also written by Lois Lowry that did not surprise me .  This, if I can be permitted to quote from Ms. Lowry.
"One couple wrote to me about their autistic, selectively mute teenager, who had recently spoken to them for the first time -- about The Giver, urging them to read it. A teacher from South Carolina wrote that the most disruptive, difficult student in her eighth grade class had called her at home on a no-school day and begged her to read him the next chapter over the phone. A night watchman in an oil refinery wrote that he had happened on the book -- it was lying on someone's desk -- while making his rounds ("I'm not a reader," he wrote me, "but man, I'm glad I came to work tonight")
I have loved to read since my earliest years (I'm told I taught myself to read by the time I was four.)  There are many reasons why I read.  One is to find those gems - the gems that transport you into a world you never completely leave.  The books that worm their way into your mind, and your DNA.  The books you think about for years after.

Yes, there are books out there that are THAT GOOD - and I feel for those who never discover the true power of those books for themselves.

If the movie version of The Giver can do that to its audience, I welcome it. But, in general, I end up being disappointed by movie versions of books.  Sometimes, all that is left from the book is the title, and the name of the main characters.

There are, of course, exceptions.  Two movie adaptations I enjoyed greatly were The Hunger Games and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Disappointments?  Too numerous to mention.

What do you think?  Were there any books you were introduced to from their movie, because the movie intrigued you so much?  Or, for you, is it mostly disappointment?


  1. My husband and I have been wondering how The Giver would translate into a movie, and how it (particularly the ending) could possibly satisfy anyone as it was written. I suspect it will be changed, and that makes me sad. Almost without fail I prefer the book to the movie!

  2. I'm surprised to find out The Giver is only 20 years old. I guess that explains why I never came across it until I was well into adulthood! It must have very quickly earned "classic" status. I'm also interested to see how it translates to film. A few movies have led me read the book--Stephen King comes to mind--I saw Carrie and The Shining before I read the books. Sometimes historical fiction movies lead me to research the topic, as well. The movie Impromptu, for example, made me more curious about the relationship between Chopin and George Sand. Overall, I generally prefer books to their movies, though sometimes I like both.


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