Monday, February 21, 2011

Book vs Movie

I am definitely one of those people who will always think that a book is better than the movie based on it. I often have to watch the movie version first so that I can actually enjoy it and not sit there thinking "That never happened! She doesn't look like that! They left out the best part!", etc. I know that it would be very hard-to-impossible to exactly translate a book into a movie—it probably wouldn't be as entertaining and the pacing would be off, etc. But even knowing this, I still get irritated at some of the liberties movie makers take when turning books into films.

Case in point, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. I loooooved this book. Loved it. And I was so excited that they were making it into a movie—especially because I heard that Kevin Spacey would be playing Jim Williams. I have always been a big fan of Kevin Spacey and I just knew that he would be perfect in this role. I also was quite excited that John Cusack would be the narrator/lead character and that they got some of the real characters in the book to play themselves (like Lady Chablis). However, all of my excitement went right down the drain and was replaced with furious anger when I discovered that the character of Mandy (described in the book as being overweight and totally and completely in love with Joe Odom) was played by Clint Eastwood's thin, hot daughter and the character now fell in love with John Cusack's character. Really? Really?! I know such a little thing shouldn't have upset me so much, but it did. Did Clint Eastwood really have to beef up his own daughter's part like that? But even despite that annoying turn of events, the rest of the movie wasn't that great either. It definitely made me intensely dislike Clint Eastwood and I now have my own immature personal boycott of him and his films.

Okay, rant on the bad, bad movie over! I have actually seen movies that are very good interpretations of the books they are based on. Case in point, The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Peter Jackson, et al, left out only the parts that really didn't add to the story and they moved some things around and gave some lines to different characters, but all in all, these movies were incredibly faithful to the books. And I love them all!

The real point of this whole post was really to discuss The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which I recently finished reading and watching. If you have not read or seen it yet, you probably don't want to read the rest of this post since there are some spoilers! The book took awhile for me to get into. I myself know nothing about the world of finance, so I was a bit bored and confused by the beginning. But I knew it'd get better and so I kept reading. And boy howdy, did it! I got a little confused at all the Swedish names and places and I had to constantly keep going back to the Vanger family tree at the beginning of the book, but I finally did manage to keep the characters straight.

Even though I normally watch the movie version of a book first so as not to be disappointed in it, I decided not to do that this time. I didn't want to have the mystery solved for me in movie form—I wanted to read about it. And I'm sure glad I did! I thoroughly enjoyed the book and expected no less from the movie. The movie stayed mostly true to the story, with a few derivations for entertainment and simplicity's sake. It was totally understandable (and even preferable) that they cut down the family tree a bit and made Henrik the uncle of Harriet instead of her great-uncle. I also felt that Noomi Rapace was totally believable as Lisbeth Salander, even though she was more buff and boy-like than the tiny and doll-like description given in the book. I often get irritated when the movies change the hair color of characters from what they're supposed to be—because c'mon, how hard is it to get a freaking wig or to dye the actors' hair? But I get that for the story's sake, they had to make Harriet a blonde in the movie so that she'd look like Anita. I would just think that after she disappeared, Harriet would definitely want to change up her whole appearance so as not to be identified as herself. I also get why they had Lisbeth discover the connection between the names and numbers in Harriet's diary and the Bible verses instead of having Blomkvist's daughter do it, like in the book—it definitely simplified things to have it that way in the movie. Also, having Lisbeth provide Blomkvist with all of the damaging evidence against Wennerström in the movie instead of having Vanger promising to do so and then delivering old info and then having Lisbeth get the real dirt simplified the plot line and gave the movie a neat ending.

One thing I did not like about the movie were the allusions to "All the Evil". Since I have not finished the other books in the trilogy, I do not know exactly what "All the Evil" is yet. And gee, now I know it involves a younger Lisbeth, fire, and someone in a car. Thanks, movie makers, for ruining the surprise for me! The second time they showed the flashback, I looked away until I could tell it was over. And even though I still don't know exactly what "All the Evil" is from watching the movie, I would have rather discovered what it is in its entirety from the book, in Stieg Larsson's words (or rather, his words translated into English). I am almost halfway done with The Girl Who Played with Fire, so I gather I shall be in the know soon. And I'm sure the movie makers assumed that many people seeing the movie would have already read all the books and know what happened. But still, I was a bit upset that they put this in the first movie.

I also did not like that they had Martin Vanger try to avoid hitting the truck and going off the road and begging Lisbeth to save him when in the book, he drove straight into the truck, committing suicide because he knew he couldn't face the consequences of his actions and possibly because he knew his sick, murderous activities could not possibly continue now that he was caught, so what's the use of living? I guess this change of events in the movie showed again that Lisbeth had absolute hatred for men who abuse women, but I personally thought that was already evident.

I kind of felt sorry for the movie version of Blomkvist because he didn't get nearly as much action as the book Blomkvist did! His relationship with Erika was only shown in passing in the movie and he never even hooked up with Cecilia at all! He did get to have sex with Salander, so at least he scored there. But man, if I was Michael Nyqvist, I'd be pissed that I missed out on all the hot sexy time!

All in all, I thought it was a great movie version of a book. If I had not read the book before I watched the movie, I probably would have enjoyed it a bit more, but there's just something about reading a mystery before you watch it—it's more intense and suspenseful if you have to read it. It takes no effort to sit and watch a movie for two hours and find out what happens, but it (obviously) takes lots more time and effort to sit and read a book. And when you find you can't put it down because you're so invested in the story and finding out what happens, that's what makes books magical!

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