• Carmen Milligan

Book to movie

I have long avoided seeing movies made from books that I love. I have never seen "The Green Mile", "The Shell Seekers", or the "Handmaid's Tale" series. There is a lot of license taken with storylines and characters, and I am not sure why Hollywood does this. I don't think it's because the story is hard to capture on film, but because Hollywood is second-guessing what we want to see, without taking into account that we probably want to see what we've just read.


For example, the casting in "Pay it Forward" completely ruined the movie for anyone who loved the book. The teacher in the book is a black, disfigured, lonely war veteran. In the movie, it's Kevin Spacey, who has a few scars on his face. Hollywood didn't think a black actor, other than Denzel, could sell a mainstream movie. Maybe that's because Hollywood wouldn't give a black actor the chance.


"My Sister's Keeper" is completely reversed, for some reason. The director defended the change by saying that his way was much more likely in the "real world". His ending completely undid all of the complexities of the book's ending by tying up his movie with a prettier bow.


And don't even get me started on "The Shining", except to say that NO ONE loved Kubrick more than Kubrick. Authors are also not big fans of these changes. Just ask Stephen King about the aforementioned "Shining". In taking about "Breakfast at Tiffany's", author Truman Capote said the film “was thin and pretty, whereas it should have been rich and ugly.”


And that brings me to the impetus for this post: "Pachinko" by Min Jin Lee. Apple+ is bringing the bestseller to the small screen in a three-episode series. I looked at the casting and was so glad to see Asian actors finally being case as Asian characters (looking at you Mickey Rooney, David Carradine, and John Wayne). But then I noticed Jimmi Simpson in the main cast as "Tom Andrews". Who the hell is Tom Andrews? I just finished the book, and I don't remember a white man having any sort of main role. The book is as much a commentary on Japanese/Korean history as it is the characters. There are no main characters that are American. I am interested to see who Tom Andrews is, and what he brings to the story. And more importantly, which book character was carved out to make way for him.


Are you going to read the book and/or watch the Apple+ series? What is your take on books vs movies?

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