The wonderful world of media never ceases to amaze me with its constant advances in technology and infallible tendency to ruin all that is good in the world of the written word. Every day we are confronted with advertisements for movies. Some of these happen to be based on what, in my opinion, is our greatest achievement as a species: the written word. When modern directors endeavor to transform the book into easily digestible entertainment for the masses, the story is often butchered. The plot gets rewritten and mangled into what is often an unrecognizable, unintelligent string of pointless action. In the process of turning literary genius into multimedia for the masses, details are altered, characters are abandoned, and even the resolution is scrapped in attempt to create the next blockbuster. The movie is seldom, if ever, truly based on the book.
The most striking example of a director abusing creative license and altering a books details is the movie remake of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, The novel’s plot revolves around Hester Prynn, a resident in a puritan society in the New England Colonies, Whom bears the child Pearl after her husband is presumed to be lost at sea. Since he is presumed dead, there is no conceivable way he could be the father. Hence, the society demands she name the child’s father, so he can be properly punished along side his adulterous counterpart. But since the Reverend Dimmesdale is, after all, the town preacher, his reputation is rather important to him, and Hester realizes this. Despite the promise of having her punishment lifted in exchange for the name of her counterpart, she refuses, and allows him to live out his life in peace. But unknown to her, Reverend Dimmesdale is consumed...
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...e most movies hold to the basic structure of the book, similarities often end there. The symbolism and metaphors intended by the author are lost in translation, and the director’s creative intellect typically blurs the focus of the novel. In bridging the gap between text and movie, the details that seem unimportant to the writer of the screen play may be changed or even wholly abandoned, the characters that we know and love from the novels are erased, and sometimes even the ending of the movie inconsistent with the book we read. The novels we love become something alien, something unrecognizable on the big screen. Hollywood has always been famous for it’s silver screen monsters, But until one lends to it the appropriate amount of thought, it escapes our minds that the true monstrosity is what happens when translating literature into a box office hit.
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