Condensing books into movies

Suzie Eisfelder

I’ve been watching Hogfather the movie, not the book and just being totally amazed by how nicely the transition has been. It’s gone from being a super cool book to being a super cool movie. The characters come through beautifully and some of the characters work much better on screen than they do in book form as the actor fleshes them out very nicely. I particularly liked Marc Warren’s work on Teatime, seriously creepy. He was creepy enough in print, but hearing the voice and seeing the way he moves gives you a whole new view of him. As usual, some stuff had to be deleted and other stuff had to be seriously condensed otherwise the whole thing would have taken much more than 185 minutes. This is a problem with every book that’s been made into a movie.

You could take any of the Harry Potter books for instance. In order to bring the length of the movie down to a reasonable time frame you have to take out huge chunks of each book. One of my favourite classes was Potions and very little of that made it into the movies. In order to get around that problem with the last book they’re doing two movies.

You could take a look at the Lord of the Rings. Really good books, except for the lack of females but we can excuse that as Tolkein knew little about females. The one thing that I really wanted to see was the Hobbits return to the Shire and how they had changed so much and were able to deal with the upheaval, unfortunately that wasn’t to be as they had to shave some time somewhere and I estimate it would have added 20 or so minutes to a 201 minute film. 3 and half hours was already way too long and the extended version is 251 minutes which translates to over 4 hours. Martin Pearson has written a song about each movie being a bladder buster and I don’t want to imagine how the song would have gone if they’d put everything in. They would have made a lot of fans very happy, though.

  1. At the risk of incurring a huge amount of wrath, I actually prefer the Harry Potter movies to the books, having in all cases except the first book, seen the movie before reading the book. That said, I have found a few times that something in the film has made a bit more sense after I’ve read the book. I’ve found the movies have captured the heart of the stories very well. Other books I’ve read have not fared nearly so well – Miss Smilla’s feeling for Snow, Gorky Park, Captain Corelli’s mandolin, The Shipping News – all unmitigated disasters

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