I have always been intrigued by the process of making a book into a movie. It is interesting to see the changes that get made as the story goes from being the creation of one person to a completely different creation of a whole group of people each with their own vision and talents. it also fascinating to me what the two mediums do to a story.
Every time I see a good movie, I look to see if it came from a book. I order it online immediately if it is and spend the next few days pouring over it. Most of the time I end up liking the book ore than the movie. I have even started searching for the book before I watch the movie so that I can enjoy the book in it's intended state before the images of the movie director have been imprinted on my brain and before I know the entire story.
Hollywood tends to like a happy ending. I have seen many amazing endings changed when it comes time to make the movie because the director thinks movie-goers want a happy, tightly wrapped up ending. Luckily, sometimes they include the original, not-so-clean ending on the DVD as an alternate ending. After watching Dear John (one of my more sappy moments) I was pacing around the house frustrated with how a complex relationship was all wrapped up and over simplified with a yes-they-finaly-did-get-together ending, even though it took killing off a great character to get there and ended up selling that relationship short.
When the pacing subsided, I flipped around the DVD for more content and found the alternate ending, one that lines up much more with the book. After seeing the ending that was true to the nature of the relationship I went to bed satisfied that at least one person on the set had enough sense to make the appropriate ending even though it probably got cut when the film was showed to a test audience. When I finally got around to reading the book, I was even more pleased at the meandering relationship developed by so many scenes that got cut in order to let the movie run in 90 minutes.
Last month, I re-watched P.S. I Love You. It was sitting on my DVR and nothing else really was, so I turned it on to burn a couple of hours after a hectic week. Although it was a rather cheesy movie, the second time through I was impressed with the movie's two divergent story lines and how they were weaved together to divulge the right bits of information at the right time. Since Islands and Insulin also uses two overlapping story lines (mine both travel int he same direction, though) I was interested to see if it came from a book and how those story lines played out in the book.
Up comes Amazon on my phone and I have the book in my hands in less than three days. It was another six days before I finished the 500-page (ugh!) book. And I realized all the amazing story-telling and beautifully balanced reveal of information was added by one incredible scriptwriter. None of it was in the book. It was all a reworking of the stripped-down, bare-bones concept of a husband leaving notes for his wife after her death. I think that was the only thing that stayed in there. that and the names of the main characters (the ones who were left in after the reworking.)
Looking at the two stories all of what I loved was added by the scriptwriter. Holly finding her purpose in life, shoe designer in the movie, ad exec in the book; the story of how they met, funny and quirky in the movie, utterly forgettable in the book; the relationship to her mother and similarities of both women's lives, added to the story in the movie, non-existant in the book. All of the magic was added after the fact.
I wonder what a scriptwriter would do to my book if it ever was made into a movie. Who would they leave out? What would they overemphasize to the point of fictionalizing the experience? What would they totally destroy the simplicity of? How big would they make the waves and wind that blew the third day? And could they please, please use a cute actress who would make me out to be a whole lot more charming and much more pleasant to be around???