Summer Reading Classic Film Book Challenge: Writing Vampyr by Carl Theodor Dryer, Christen Jul, and Sheridan Le Fanu

Introduction

The final book that I selected for the Summer Reading Classic Film Book Challenge was actually a back-up option. In scanning my unread titles two that slipped through the cracks were books that were included as supplemental features on Criterion Collection releases. And by books I don’t mean booklets, which are standard, but actual paperbacks which are rarer.

A Side Trip

Mr. Arkadin (Criterion)

The first book I tried to read was Mr. Arkadin by Orson Welles. This is the novelization of Welles’ script, alternately called Confidential Report. I saw the four cuts of the film in a weeks’ time therefore decided to wait on the book. While the story of the strange nature of this novel, which ran serialized in France, and was later translated back into English presumably making it less than Welles original version (again!); I lost interest as it read slow and I was juggling a few other books. It’s a rare case of my successfully enacting the Brautigan Rule, as described by Stephen King in Hearts in Atlantis (the character Ted Brautigan encouraged Bobby to read more by moving on to another book after it’s 10-20% read if he’s not interested). I may come back to it, but not right now. Maybe next year if the blogathon returns.

Writing Vampyr (Vampyr by Carl Theodor Dreyer and Christen Jul and Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu)

Writing Vampyr (Criterion)

What I decided on was Writing Vampyr, which was included in Criterion’s release of Vampyr (1932). This seminal vampire film is often overlooked in part because it has neither the flash of German Expressionism nor the iconic makeup work of Nosfertau. Yet Vampyr as an early sound film still is built mostly on imagery and is not a locked-down camera early sound film.

This book is composed of two texts: the original screenplay by Dreyer and Jul and the novella from which it draws quite a bit of inspiration, but is not a literal adaptation of, Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla. The fact that these two titles work more like companion pieces than identical texts makes this a very enjoyable reading experience.

As for the screenplay, I can’t help but feel it actually contains a better vision for the story than the film does. It’s what would have qualified as a “great flawed film” in Truffaut’s parlance as the script wasn’t entirely feasible to shoot due to technological restraints at time as well as budgetary ones. Full credit goes to Criterion here for including the full text denoting in two different ways what was excised from the script and when in the process of pre-production. As I touched upon in my Ingrid Bergman Blogathon post, both time and country play a role in dictating screenplay form, and it is ever-changing. With the amount of prose in the script it really is like reading two novellas. And that should ingratiate it to the uninitiated in screenplays.

Vampyr (1932)

If Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla intrigues you the collection from which it is culled, In a Glass Darkly, can be found digitally online for free. As for Carmilla itself it should be of interest simply for all the adaptations its inspired like The Blood Splattered Bride, Twins of Evil, Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, Lust for a Vampire, Vampire Lovers, Crypt of the Vampire, Blood and Roses, and more.

What was surprising is that the introduction cited the story as having undertones of lesbianism, but for the time in which it was written it seemed rather overt. I can only imagine that maybe it read more as an undertone back then because the phrase “the love that dare not speak its name,” had not been coined.

The language, as per usual in the Victorian era in my estimation, is brilliant, yet  here concise and not overly-florid such that it obscures meaning and intent. It’s also a relief to read things described in detail anew as the sparsity of modern description can leave one wanting on occasion.

These two pair beautifully together and truly demonstrates the elasticity that film has when adapting the written word.

Advertisements

March to Disney: Expanding Alexander’s Day

If there’s one critique I could never get behind in the realm of book-to-film adaptation it’s the kind I hear a great deal surrounding the transition of Where the Wild Things Are from beloved children’s classic to film property. Many found it odd, confounding even, that a 20-page book with scarcely any prose and mostly illustrations would be suitable for film treatment. I personally like the possibilities of expansion over contraction more times than not.

Stephen King when discussing rewriting in On Writing confesses to being more of a putter-inner than a taker-outer, which is to say he’d love to expand on a narrative rather than omit any time. The wisdom to know when to edit as opposed to over-embroider makes a skilled writer. However, a literal adaptation of something as sparse as Alexander… would not only be un-artful, but also far too short for a feature film. Therefore, expansion is necessary.

Furthermore, taking a short story and making it a feature is far less embellishment than taking a single volume and making it two or three films. Therefore, in the over-analytical film news cycle of today it’s a far less worrisome leap.

In fact, expanding on the book diminishes the over-analytical complaint that Alexander is whiny. By turning the film into a narrative with many prongs wherein everyone has a calamitous day it allows the protagonist to come to a realization on his own with minimal wallowing in self-pity and maximizing comedic moments.

However, it is another successful adaptation of a children’s tale that is well-liked in the Disney realm. The only truly bothersome moments are the very Disney realm of it all, which is double-edged sword. For example, the Peter Pan musical the daughter rehearses are with songs from the film not the musical; and the principal’s reference to Wreck-It Ralph seem somewhat extraneous. It would also be a bit odd if this family was being created in a supposedly real world that pretended Disney was not a thing. Furthermore, the viral sensation that Dick Van Dyke is involved in creating is a highlight of the film for sure.

A completely appreciated wrinkle was building in a fully healthy obsession for Alexander that rounds out his character (his obsession with all things Australian). It’s happy accident that Ed Oxenbould is also Australian, but it adds good dimension, sets up a great gag and introduces cool animals – and once again shows off the knack actors of all ages have adapting to American dialects.

Ultimately, the warmth and humor of the tale and the talent of the cast win out and deliver on the promise of a well-thought out expansive adaptation.

Hero Whipped: Hellraiser

Note: Images below are gory and may be found disturbing by some. Proceed with caution.

If this is your first time reading one of these posts this is where I discuss my return to the comics medium after a long hiatus. The journey to that return in chronicled in this post and this one. Since detailing that journey subsequent posts have usually been on topics surrounding one particular character and the depiction in various media.

Now in discussing Hellraiser as a franchise I do realize that I am not dealing with a hero. When you’re dealing in the horror genre, particularly as the franchises spawn sequels and spin-offs, you are more concerned with the villain. In the case of some truly unfortunate films it’s the antagonist you prefer because the protagonist(s) are lacking.

When discussing Hellraiser specifically one interesting aspect of the property is that it really does illustrate another area wherein prose, film and comics have some overlap. Specifically I am thinking of the connection between auteurs, or writer/director if you prefer, and comic creators. Naturally the link between those and author exists there too. For one of the films, a book and now a few comics series that title is held by one man: Clive Barker.

The Hellbound Heart (1988, HarperCollins)

The Hellraiser concept was first introduced in a novella by Barker entitled The Hellbound Heart. This story was first anthologized in November of 1986 and was released as a standalone book after the success of the film.

Clive Barker is one of the few artists working today that one can truly call a renaissance man. There is virtually no creative endeavor he hasn’t sought out – he writes novels; has written and had plays produced; he’s a photographer; and he paints, hundreds of his works now form the illustrations for his Abarat series. Prior to writing and directing Hellraiser, he’d acted as writer or director on a number of films including SalomSalomé, The Forbidden and Rawhead Rex. When the narrative of The Hellbound Heart was to come to cinemas he took on both challenges.

Hellraiser was one of New World Pictures most successful titles and a work of visionary horror. Though Barker did have input in the sequel and the third film his control over the film series was never equal to what he had that first time around. The results have never been the same again either. Considering that it’s a world of his crafting that he executed on film so brilliantly the first time around, it was folly. If you’re brave enough to watch the decline of the series, it is a sad thing; one I didn’t have the stamina to write about.

Hellraiser (1987, New World Pictures)

However, with horror franchises on film that tends to be the case. It’s a case of gradual decay and occasional slight resurgence after the studio takes control of its fate and the creator of the entity eventually moves on to bigger and better things. However, Barker’s name still has caché, and is so synonymous with Hellraiser, for obvious reasons, that Dimension has taken to using his name in sequels he had nothing to do with. This has caused Barker to publicly disclaim these assertions stating that the story did not come from his mind or any other orifice of his body, to paraphrase.

It is lamentable when a film franchise falls that far from grace. There is a reboot in the works, which he is producing that may right that, but there is all that wreckage in the past and only the original film stands as a masterful work of horror. That is, of course, if you limit yourself to film.

Recently, Barker has taken to writing for the comics medium for the first time. Since Hellraiser joined the Boom! Studios line-up he was the guiding force behind a 20-issue series, followed by a 4-issue mini-series and now a new Hellraiser ongoing series has picked up a different thread of the mythology. Barker is not always credited as authoring the script, but has been, and is definitely guiding these tales.

Hellraiser Annual #1 (Boom! Studios)

Just sating that creator/auteur urge of having someone who understands the world and how to tell new stories within it would be enough for most. However, the series have also been fantastic so far. I’m fairly selective about monthly titles and have never dropped them off my pull-list and more often than not these titles have been at or near the top of best issues of the month. Many times they show what the medium can do. The artwork, typically done by different artists, appropriately and seamlessly, is gorgeous and lush. The writing is smart and the structure intricate. It lends itself to re-reading, and reading in trade, but also works in single-issue format, I believe. That’s a hard trifecta to pull off.

Fans of the world, the antagonist Pinhead and the heroine Kirsty Cotton would likely be pleased by this run of books which is ongoing. Fans of Barker in general should be glad that there’s yet another outlet for his creative genius as in June Boom! will debut his first original 12-issue limited series called Next Testament.

It seems that both Barker and the Hellraiser have found a new place to call home, the comics medium. That’s a good thing for both of them, but it’s an even better thing for fans and we should all be reading.

Book Review- The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary

You never know what you’re going to get when you purchase a book that ties into the release of a film that purports to be a diary or some other kind of making of chronicle. Some I flip through are quite flimsy (like alleged shooting scripts with too many photos and goofy formatting), some are quite great (like the Hugo companion). Usually, the book being written by the author of the adapted book is a good indicator.

Thus, what surprised me most about Jeff Kinney’s book about The Diary of a Wimpy Kid wasn’t that I liked it (though I have not read the books, only saw the films) but how detailed it is, yet also accessible. Kinney describes much of the filmmaking process through all three phases of production simply yet precisely. However, aside from tricks of the trade, he also makes the journey personal discussing both his journey with the character and the books and then the films. He goes on to include a bit about the affinity and coincidences in chronology that exist between Gregg Heffley and Zachary Gordon, the actor who plays the role.

Here again you also have another author discuss why changes were made to the narrative when transcribing it to the screen and being fully in support of them. However, Kinney has perhaps the simplest, most bulletproof fanboy block of them all “If everything that happened in the book happened in the movie why would you want to see it?” He also talks about the difficulty in casting Gregg because he recognized that the character had to start as severely flawed but still likable and I believe that balance was struck.

Aside from the specifics of the productions, which prove that movie-making is always hard work (as if that needed proving) I really liked getting a glimpse into the creative process, which is shown not just on Kinney’s part but the first film’s director and the young cast (Gordon and Robert Capron wrote essays as their characters, which are dead on). Aside from the insight that illustrate how the film came into being I think this really is a great book for kids. If they already like the series and are interested in seeing how movies are made you won’t find the elements of production explained more directly, plus discussing concepts in conjunction with a film they’ve seen make it easier to learn.

This is a quick, enjoyable read that is worth seeking out for fans of the series or if you’re just looking to get your feet wet learning the basics of filmmaking. The edition I read had some Rodrick Rules content added but it wasn’t a significant amount so I wouldn’t hold out for a second update and just get it now if you’re interested.

Book Review- The Complete Greed

There isn’t too much I can personally say about The Complete Greed that hasn’t already been said by those cited on the back cover of the book, namely: The New Yorker, Fritz Lang, Take One, Sight & Sound, Maurice Bessy (at the time director of The Cannes Film Festival), Henri Langlois (at the time curator of the Cinémathèque Française), Peter Bogdanovich and Jean Renoir.

However, one unique perspective is that I, unlike all those cited on the back of the book, have yet to see the extant, eviscerated version of Greed. I remember my interest being piqued in film school but also accompanied by a built-in reticence to see something that was less than von Stroheim’s grandiose vision for it. That combined with the fact that it is currently only available via re-seller on VHS in the US has put it low on the priority list for me. However, when I was on Amazon one day and saw that a used, though in great shape, copy of this book was available for the staggeringly low price of $4 I had to jump on it.

After having read it I must say it is quite a feat indeed. Having never seen the film I now feel like I have and what’s more it conveyed both the wonder of the story as it exists and the agony of the seeing the version the world has been robbed of.

The more complete cuts of Greed are among the holiest of holy grails in the film world. I now have a sense as to why that is and add that to a growing list of cuts I wish to see unearthed.

Book Review- Asterix and Obelix: The Book of the Film

Asterix and the Vikings (M6 Films)

Whenever possible I always like to address what the grain of salt is that my reader should keep in mind when reading a piece. In this scenario the grain of salt is: I like reading but I don’t as much as I should, and it’s likely impossible for me to read as much as I want to. So my experience is a little lacking but there’s another caveat here and that is this: this is essentially a novelization with a twist.

Now, novelizations are a bit passé and if I recall correctly I’ve only ever read a few. What was interesting and irresistible here is: first, I was at Disney World when I spotted it. Second, it’s Asterix and an animated film, which I said is where the franchise should go (little did I know it had been there before).

Now, it’s a hand-drawn (in terms of style if not technique), 2D film and that’s fine with me. I’d still love to see these characters and others get the motion-capture treatment as Tintin truly was a huge step forward for the technology to me, far greater than Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Regardless, the fact that this film is animated means there are stills and illustrations in the book and it gives you a fair glimpse of what the film is like and that’s the idea: to conquer viewers for the film through another medium and this film succeeds in that task.

The images are plentiful, fairly well-selected and importantly are chasing the text, so the pictures don’t forecast the text but reflect it an allow the book to tell the tale.

As with any Asterix title, there are laughs to be had but most of it does come through the prose, which is impressive since the pictographic nature of the usual tale Uderzo and Goscinny tell is somewhat altered here.

The story also runs about as long as a typical Asterix tale 45 pages or so, but the bonus is that there are character, sketches and other making of illustrations and text that give you insight into the making of this film.

It may not be available on region 1 DVD but where there’s a computer there’s a way and this book has certainly made me want to seek this film out. Mission accomplished.

Asterix & Obelix (Clement)

The Flip Side: Seeing the Movie Then Reading the Book

Asa Butterfield in Hugo (Paramount)

Recently I re-posted a series of articles I wrote on The Site That Shall Not Be Named (no it’s not the Dark Lord’s site) about how to divorce oneself from the source material when you’re watching an adaptation of a beloved book, comic, TV Show or what have you. If you want to read that series start here, otherwise bear with me.

In that series I really tackled a problem many face but mainly it pertained to books and their readers the most. To be more specific people who happened to have read the book prior to watching the film, which is a tough transition.

However, a twitter friend of mine and blogger in his own right, recently posted this intriguing entry:

People who follow me at all know I read a lot.

I read books now more than ever, used to read more newspapers and magazines.

But, I hear all the time, I want to see say “Hunger Games” but I need to read the book/books first. I personally prefer seeing the movie first.

Books are a totally different format, richer, longer, have subtext, a medium of words. Film is a medium of images and sounds, and quite a bit shorter at around 90-120 minutes. The average screenplay is 95-125 pages long, the average book is around 300 pages. It’s simply different.

For me a good example of this is Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo”. Although the book the “Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick is very cinematic, and the look is in the movie, Scorsese adds scenes, depth of character and a few other things I don’t see in the book. I did see “Hugo” before reading the book, and think if I read the book first I would have used my image of the book to cloud the movie and not loved the movie for what it did well but get trapped in comparisons.

An example of a book I did read first which clouded my judgment of the movie is “Jurassic Park.” I quite enjoyed Micheal Crichton’s novel, and I missed several scenes (especially the river scene) that were in the book in the movie. Although Spielberg does a good job with it, I find actually the monster movie “The Lost World” to be more fun. I think this is partially because my view of the book hurts the movie.

Another example for me from a recent movie is “The Hunger Games.” My wife has read through this series twice already, and I am still around 20% in the first book. I quite enjoyed the movie, and wonder if my judgment of the book would have clouded how I see the film.

Basically movies and books are entirely different mediums. If you try to make the movie just like the book you get boring movies like Chris Columbus’s Harry Potter 1 and 2, which although good and nowhere near as rich to me as Cuaron’s version that shares the vision of the book but doesn’t feel the need to get everything in Harry Potter 3 (still the best of the series to me.
What do you think?

The general points up there I agree with almost without exception. I wanted to quote the post mainly for context and also as shorthand to expound on my observations on this opposite phenomena I didn’t examine.

I completely agree with the assertion that one musn’t read the book before seeing the movie. The book is not Cliff’s Notes to the film. The film has to sink or swim on its own merits. With regards to The Hunger Games, I liked it but I knew innately that there was backstory and subtext from the book only being hinted at on screen, however, it didn’t ruin the film for me.

With regards to subtext allow me to make a minor semantical point: yes, many films are surface only but when you study them you learn to read them (I’m not being poetical, we say that) and seek the subtext. Some films are what they are; vapid or brilliant there’s not much else going on, those are few. There will be more forthcoming dialogue simply because the examples are ones I so closely relate to but I will transition, believe me.

Another thing that even I didn’t really examine in the prior series is that there really isn’t a direct correlation between pages in a book and a screenplay. One can make it, and I have, for a mathematical argument but truly the literal conversion of book to film can have so many more variables. A good example would be Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust. I stuck with it and finished it and liked, despite it being the most challenging read of my life. Such is the stream of consciousness and transition from reality to memory to fancy to dream that it makes it a very involving and exhaustive experience. Were you to take certain pages out of the book and transcribe them to screenplay form you could have so many changes of time and location that one novel page could be three to four screenplay pages. Again, if you’re a completist and being literal. A good film of the book would have some of those montages implied in the writing but not all of them.

Certain writing styles do imply montage as Eisenstein talks most about in the book of his I’m in the midst of and what can be done in a paragraph of prose may take a page or more in a screenplay depending on how you decide to exploit it cinematically. This is just further food for thought when thinking about taking something that’s purely text and turning it into visuals.

With regards to the example of Hugo above it’s amazing that we both reached virtually the same conclusion about the film having inverted reading schedules. I took The Invention of Hugo Cabret out of the library and devoured it because it was a quick read, liking the story much better than the presentation thereof and then though I knew Scorsese and Logan made certain changes I felt they enhanced the film and made it the best of 2011.

Sam Niell in Jurassic Park (Universal Pictures)

With regards to the Jurassic Park films, I actually tried to read the book and I failed to complete it despite needing to write a book report on it. That did not diminish my desire to see it or affect my view of it. I absolutely adored every second of it. Being a budding cinephile and a kid who at more than one point wanted to be a paleontologist it was, and will remain, one of the most exhilarating movie-watching experiences of my life. It’s magical. On the other hand, I didn’t try and read The Lost World, I disliked it a lot. How much? This much. I was pleased to learn in my Spielberg class that part of the reasoning behind his doing The Lost World was that Universal had been begging him for a sequel since 1982 and he would not hear of it being E.T.

Michael Gambon and Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Warner Bros.)

As for the Harry Potter films: I love them and I love the books. My love for both is separate but equal, to re-appropriate an old phrase. I always read them before I saw them but with the few production delays they had the gap between reading and viewing grew as the films moved on. My favorite is The Half-Blood Prince, it’s the apex of the story cinematically and in the books I feel so much of what was built in the series lead to that point. The Prisoner of Azkaban is great but like many of the films they stumble at the goal line, metaphorically speaking but that one just loses the ball entirely with the very last image and piece of voice over. Only part of the issue with the first two films is Columbus. The other part is that the books steadily grew in size through the course of the series. Slavishness to the novel was easy, and maybe a requisite to establish the franchise at the beginning. As the books grew slavishness became more difficult to accomplish, nearly impossible, thus the films truly came into their own as a separate but equal enterprise.

So having said all that in the interest of piggybacking and elaborating on points I previously made; What about seeing the movie first and then reading? I am very intrigued by the idea but I do not have much practice with it. I have a few candidates in mind to try it with but let’s see what case studies I have (Yes, we are quite literally discovering it together, hence why I wanted to write this post).

Jack Nicholson in The Shining (Warner Bros.)

The Shining

I decided to pick up a Stephen King book because I saw The Shining. I was just into High School and it was the first time I enjoyed being scared. I was averse to horror before then. I learned from King and went on to read many that he read. However, the film and the book are very different beasts. I had no problem with having a cast in my head, King even acknowledges that in a foreword or afterword of one of his books, but like I said it was different. I didn’t dislike it. I don’t disagree with King’s comments about Kubrick either, yet I still enjoy Kubrick’s riff on the story more than the book or the mini-series. Do I skew to the movie for having seen it first? Yes. However, then there’s The Hunger Games. I tried to read it as a library book. Hardly started. I then saw the movie still knowing next to nothing and would likely enjoy the book more.

Pet Sematary

Miko Hughes holding a copy of Pet Sematary

Here’s one where if you make me pick which one I like I’ll kick, scream and refuse. I love them both so, so much.

Storm of the Century

Colm Feore in Storm of the Century (ABC)

Ha, I’m such a cheater because this is a screenplay but regardless I may be in a minority but I really enjoyed it in both incarnations.

Hellraiser/The Hellbound Heart

Doug Bradley in Hellraiser (New World Pictures)

Clive Barker brings such imagination and originality to everything he does it’s hard to be disappointed but it is a somewhat different interpretation of the vision than the one he put on screen I find. Similarly, he’s working on a comics series of Hellraiser now, which is incredibly good.

The Exorcist

Linda Blair, Max Von Sydow and Jason Miller in The Exorcist (Warner Bros.)

With all apologies due William Peter Blatty the movie rips the book to shreds quality-wise. However, the reading experience was just fine.

Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption/The Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption (Columbia Pictures)

It wasn’t a tainted reading experience in any way and it’s evidence of why Frank Darabont is Stephen King’s best adapter.

The Body/Stand by Me

Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Jerry O'Connell and Corey Feldman in Stand by Me (Columbia Pictures)

In a similar way to Stephen King’s reaction to Darabont’s The Mist he also loved this one because of a crucial change Rob Reiner made for the better. Reading it was fine, watching it more lively. In this case it might’ve tainted it in my mind from having seen it so much.

Apt Pupil

This story as written is outstanding. Yes, the cast remained the same but the story delves into the psychology of the situation in ways the film scarcely attempts. You should read it.

The Langoliers

The Langoliers (ABC)

Augmented by having seen it first in part because I love the mini-series up until the very end. It’s like King says, the story just falls into place so smoothly and that translates on to the page and the mini-series is great until one of the worst third act blunders, and effects shots ever.

Misery

Kathy Bates and James Caan in Misery (Columbia Pictures)

How can having Kathy Bates in your head not make it better?

Cycle of the Werewolf/Silver Bullet

The Cycle of the Werewolf (Signet/Berni Wrightson)

It’s a totally different beast entirely. It’s a short little book with Berni Wrightson working his magic illustrating it, giving you new images to focus on.

Creepshow

Creepshow (Berni Wrightson/Signet)

Quite frankly with the premise of Creepshow being tales in the style of old EC Comics how can it not be a good comic book, seriously?

Burning Secret

Burning Secret (Vestron Pictures)

I’m surprised I had forgotten this one. This tale is quite literally the perfect example of this list. I saw this film by chance on Netflix. I was rather intrigued by it and was curious to read the book. The book was rather short and a quick read. The adaptation is great because it develops cinematic subtext without using any of the inner-monologue inherent in the prose. What this does is create an air of mystery and a questioning of motives, at least to an extent, which never happens in the book. The strength of the book is that you get explicit detail about the thought processes of each character. In short, you get slightly different but very well-realized renditions of the tale. In each version the medium is exploited brilliantly.

These are likely the only examples I can be completely certain of. Having thought on them: Yes, the argument does have merit. It can be better and more enjoyable to watch and then read. This might mean that The Hunger Games and A Song of Fire and Ice are in my future.

10 Keys to a Better Life as a Fanboy: 7. Suspend Disbelief (aka Get Into It)

This series of articles is designed to help you, the fan, try and divorce yourself from your attachment to source material and judge a film on its own merits and not in comparison to another work. These tips come from my own experience. I hope they are helpful.

Many of these topics do overlap one another but attack problems from different angles. This tip really comes into play if you’ve already managed to ignore number four. So here’s how:
You’re sitting in the dark of the matinee and you’ve got your 80 oz. soda and obese-family-size Twizzlers and you’re watching the same lame slides come across the screen repeatedly. The trailers for blockbusters-yet-to-be keep you only mildly amused. All this idle time has got you anticipating the film more than you had been before and you start thinking about how this director will handle the material? Or how such-and-such will do in this part and how the casting of character X will pan out. Boom. All the things you were supposed to ignore are back and suddenly the film starts and it’s distracting you.

This is where you have to grab the bull by the horns and just lose yourself in the story. Remember what it is that drew you to this material in the first place and look for it. If you find great, if not the film failed to an extent. Again this is not an attempt to excuse the film but just setting yourself up to try and judge the film before you and not measuring against another kind of work entirely.

10 Keys to a Better Life as a Fanboy: 6. The Perils and Merits of Series

Vista Library

This series of articles is designed to help you, the fan, try and divorce yourself from your attachment to source material and judge a film on its own merits and not in comparison to another work. These tips come from my own experience. I hope they are helpful.

The aforementioned tips are all well and good when you are the fan of a standalone piece in another medium and it is being adapted into a standalone, for the time being, film. Things get more complicated when your book or comic or what have you is part of a series. Any series will have its own arc and structure in its greater tale aside from just the structure of the single volume.

This is where you might have to breathe deep and learn some relaxation techniques. If an element, say Hermione’s quest to end the enslavement of House elves, is left out of one film it will be left out of each subsequent film until it becomes absolutely, positively crucial to the structuring of the story. So some of the subplots that enrich a book will invariably fall by the wayside, which is why comparing mediums is dangerous.

I don’t want a novel that reads like a screenplay. I want detail, inner monologue, I want it to be possible to take two pages to describe five seconds of a character’s life. Each medium has its strengths and to expect a film to be a pictographic facsimile of a book is unrealistic. Sticking to the Harry Potter theme The Deathly Hallows is 759 pages long. If those pages were screenplay pages you’d be looking at a 12 and 1/2 hour movie. So even with two films telling the tale of one book you’re looking at roughly 40% of the material in the book covered.

So it’s a fact of life that the movie by necessity can and will leave things out and change things.

Conversely, you need to look at the film within the context of the series. You can compare it to past films but also bear in mind: how did it advance the story, did it up the stakes, is it leaving the table set nicely for a subsequent edition should there be one?

10 Keys to a Better Life as a Fanboy: 1. A Book is a Book (A Question of Form)

1. A Book is a Book (A Question of Form)

Star Wars- Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (Lucasfilm)

This series of articles is designed to help you, the fan, try and divorce yourself from your attachment to source material and judge a film on its own merits and not in comparison to another work. These tips come from my own experience. I hope they are helpful.

The first and most important thing to keep in mind if you are hoping to have a happy existence as a fanboy is that medium matters. A book is a book, a comic is a comic and so on and so forth. Each medium has its own rules and limitations and conversely benefits. If something achieves perfection within its form it is therefore referred to as a masterpiece.

It is very difficult but not impossible for a story to be that well told in more than one medium. Now how to gauge whether or not a film has achieved such a lofty height cannot and should not be decided based on a comparative analysis.

There is merit to examining the decisions made in adding and omitting and transforming material from other mediums to film but such discussions are typically more adept to academic scenarios and not germane to analyzing the quality of a film.

I will even have occasion to describe a film I saw and cite that I thought it should’ve done X when it does Y, Case 39 is a prime example of that, however, that should not influence one’s overall opinion of a film. You must look at what is presented you and then decide if it works based on what is there not what you wish is there. That should apply to films as well.

Another illustration would be Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. I was hoping against hope that amidst the bloodshed would be the headless corpse of Jar Jar Binks, alas it was not to be. Yet that didn’t color my entire view of the film. It still would’ve been bitchin’ though.