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When They Turn a Classic Book into a Movie and Other Dilemmas

13 Mar

I’m several days behind on this piece of news, but on the off-chance you haven’t heard, the classic beat generation book On the Road is being turned into a movie and the trailer has been released:

Now, I’ve never read Jack Kerouac, but any lit nerd worth their salt knows someone who toted this book around with them in high school or early college (or maybe even beyond), and the idea of it being a movie now might be a reason for them to go into a period of mourning. This period of mourning might also be in part because Kristen Stewart, the highly emotive actress, is in it, but I digress.

Whether or not you’re a fan of Kerouac, I think we can all relate to the strange sensation of seeing a favorite book adapted to the big screen and thinking to ourselves, “My God, why the awful special effects? Why such dreadful casting? Why did they cut that wonderful scene in that wonderful part of the book that was so wonderful for me to read that first time around?” It’s always a shock, and it’s rarely done faithfully to the work itself. As obvious as it might be to point out, one of the few times Hollywood did try to make a movie that was completely faithful to the book was the seventh Harry Potter movie, and they cut that into two parts. There are also BBC versions of Jane Austen works that follow the text so closely they are nearly four hours long.

What say you, Better Know a Book-ers? Do you have a favorite book-turned-movie? Least favorite? What makes a good, faithful version that isn’t a million hours long?