23 February 2009

Based on the book by...

Books are always better than the movies they make about them. We can all agree on that, yes?

Lately, though, I can't even tell that the person who made the movie even read the book. I read The Other Boleyn Girl a couple of months ago. It's not really my kind of book. I'm not much for the historical fiction. Plus, I had to put the book down and cool off every thirty minutes for the first few chapters. Having to read about men pimping their 12-year-old daughters out like property really gets to me.

--Let me just break here for a second and say that I'm officially reminded how glad I am that I live in America and that I live now...and not hundreds of years ago (although I wouldn't have minded being up close and personal with the '60s). Men were even larger bastards back then.--

It took me a while to get into the story, but it was interesting. Once your mind conveniently forgets that these are pre-pubescent girls.

If you haven't seen the movie, I'm going to go ahead and ruin it for you. It sucks. And it's really long. Even in the opening scenes, it is different from the book.

The book tells the (historically inaccurate) story of two sisters, vying for the heart of Henry VIII. You remember that guy from history class, right? HUGE jackass. He had many wives, most of whom he beheaded so he could move on to the next. He founded the Church of England and cut ties with the Catholic church. He couldn't manage to impregnate any of his wives with a son to take the throne upon his death. Generally, he treated everyone like a big ball of crap.

Mary, the younger sister, is married off to some older boy when she's barely old enough to wipe her own ass, but somehow she catches the eye of the King. Her family pushes her into a sexual relationship with him (and pretty much tell her husband to shove it), knowing that if she can manage to have a boy child with the King their family will gain great power.

Her sister, Anne, is not at the King's court, but off getting some French schooling or something. She and Mary aren't exactly close. They've had a pretty competitive relationship their whole lives. Anne is headstrong and witty and ambitious, where Mary is soft and caring and has her head in the clouds.

Mary gets knocked up. It might be a boy! So the family forces Anne to "entertain" the King while Mary is trapped in a dark room for her "lying in." Seriously, I'm so glad I will never have to go through that!

But alas, it's a girl (stupid girls, they're good for nothing). Mary resumes her relationship and gets knocked up again. My, my, she's fertile (and this time it is a boy, but it's too late). Anne once again is forced to entertain the King. But this time she decides maybe it would be better for her to be with the King than Mary. She wins the King's heart, convinces him to leave the Queen.

Once they're married, Anne can't seem to conceive a boy either. Eventually, Henry tires of her and has her tried for treason and incest and summarily beheaded.

Netflix delivered The Other Boleyn Girl to my apartment last week. I finally got up the strength to pop it in to the DVD player last week. Immediately, I realized that things were going to be rocky at best.

The story began with the family telling Anne (who is not off at French school) to sleep with the King. She pisses him off right at the beginning by riding her horse better than he can. So he falls for Mary instead. Ugh.

Shouldn't there be some kind of rule that if you're going to base your movie on a book, you should have to actually crack the book open at least once? Just about the only detail that matched the book was Anne's "B" necklace. Oh, and that she got her head chopped off. But that's in all the history books, too. It would have been hard to ignore that little tidbit.

Then this weekend, I went to see Confessions of a Shopaholic with one of my girlfriends. Again, in the opening credits, I was already disappointed. If you've never read the books, please stop reading this and go out and get them (unless you're a guy...then maybe you shouldn't). They're hilarious (again, unless you're a guy. I'm thinking some of the subtleties might be lost on the male sex).

This story takes place in ENGLAND. But in the movie, the main character is an American girl who lives in New York. Really. I mean, how hard would it have been to just set the stupid movie in England? Bridget Jones seemed to work out all right (although again, the books are far better).

It's like when I read the book Pay it Forward back in the day. My roommates had read it and they thought I would like it. I didn't. It's a really lame, cheesy story. But I refused to see the movie because in the book, the main guy is a large black man who is missing one eye. In the movie they cast Kevin Spacey to play this role, and he has a little scar on his cheek. I mean, c'mon. Was Morgan Freeman not available?

I understand that things have to change in a book's translation into a movie. The story has to move along much more quickly and well, things are open to interpretation. But really. How does changing the setting really speed things along? How can the color of a man's skin really facilitate the movie? Why would you feel the need to turn the entire story around on its head?

I find this so frustrating. Is there nothing to be done about it?


Killer B said...

I generally agree with you - Book are WAAAAY better than their movie counterparts (and in many cases, are better than movies in general).

I have a couple of exceptions - the first one I'll probably be slaughtered for, but LOTR was a WAAAY better movie than it was a series of books. I kicked those things to the curb after the first few chapters.

The second is Jaws. The book sucked and the movie was AWESOME! A big latex shark killing people and sinking boats??? C'mon!!! That's what movies were meant for!!!


meshealle said...

I suppose this is when I admit that I haven't seen, nor do I want to see the LOTR movies. And I don't think I have enough life left to read the books.

I haven't seen Jaws either. So I can't comment. But the list of books that are far better than their movie counterparts is longer than most giraffes' necks. Why is it so hard to make a movie that is true to the book?

I actually thought they did a good job with The Green Mile and even with Hannibal. Well, with Hannibal, I was mostly glad I had read the book, so I understood what was going on. All the people I saw the movie with were very confused. So maybe it sucked, too. :-)

Aside from that,'s just suck after suck in the movie department. And they change things that make no sense to change.

Killer B said...

You haven't seen the LOTR movies??? WOW!!! Even my cats have sat through them with me!!! Truth is that you didn't miss much except for some BRILLIANT eye-candy. New Zealand is a gorgeous country and they really did it justice with the cinematography.

Generally speaking, I agree with you. Books into movies is usually a bad idea, especially when the books are good quality. And yes, it drives me crazy when things in the book are changed for the movie. I have no idea why an author would surrender control like that but if you've ever read Jurassic Park and then seen film, you will agree that in that case, cinematic liberties were completely justified.

Mind you, there was Heart of Darkness which was a great book that was turned into Apocalypse Now which wasn't a bad movie either...

meshealle said...

...I haven't see Jurassic Park either. And I kind of hate Michael Crichton books, so I never bothered to read it.

Before you bring it up, I also haven't seen Braveheart. :-)

Johnny Virgil said...

Shawshank Redemption. Fantastic movie, and very true to the original story. The only concession was at the end. They spelled it out a bit more.

Killer B said...

Johnny, I'm throwing down here and I mean no offense, but books aren't really Stephen King's forte medium. No disrespect to the man, but he doesn't exactly write classical literature and I've tended to think the movies were the better way to go: Shawshank WAS a good film, and Cathy Bates ROCKED Misery...

M - You haven't seen Jurassic Park??? I'm speechless!!!

meshealle said...

It can't be. I just got a comment from the great Johnny Virgil?!? Wow. I think I might be famous now. :-)

And agreed. Shawshank was an awesome movie. I didn't read the book because normally Stephen King books (with a few exceptions) make me want to pull out my own hair and eat it.

The list of movies I haven't seen is very very long. Especially if they came out before my high school years, as I wasn't really allowed to watch much of anything.

Killer B said...

Don't sweat it; you really haven't missed that much, movie-wise. as there really aren't that many good ones out there....