13 June 2017

How To Do a Book-To-Movie Adaptation Ft. Anna & Anna!



I'm officially excited to introduce the first of many collaboratives planned over the summer! Anna of annaish and Anna of Lethlogica are two dear blogging friends of mine, where we have had this post in the works for several weeks. Book-to-movie adaptations of beloved middle grade and young adult books have sporadically spurred over the past couple of years. 

One question that jumped out to us (as we're all book lovers) is the question, "How should book to movie adaptations occurs? What works and doesn't work?" Our words and opinions are strict guidelines, but they're some we believe should be kept in mind as an adaptation is within the works. Along side our introductions and explanations, we'll each list an adaptation we're either excited for our we really like. Take it away, Anna!


I thought I could start by introducing my biggest positive concerning a book to movie adaptation.

Personally, I want the movie adaptation to follow the book plot. That’s the key! It will make everything better and (probably) more clear. Now, we all know Hollywood isn’t the most trustworthy with book to movie adaptations. An example: Percy Jackson. *shivers* Still disgusted with that adaptation. But there are much better adaptations. I found The Maze Runner, If I Stay, Insurgent all good adaptations. But wait, Anna? The movie adaptation for Insurgent didn’t follow the book … at all?! Let me explain: I want my favorite book to be the perfect movie adaptation. Because, you know, it’s my favorite book. But books I read and didn’t enjoy (plot wise)? Their movie plot can change and I wouldn’t mind because I didn’t enjoy the book plot in the first place. Does everyone get me? Haha hopefully you did!

We got to use Anna's author picture because EEEP!

The setting, plot intricacy, and character depth make a huge difference in any good story.  Character depth in particular is extremely important, because characters are the life of the tale.  Even though personality, flaws and virtue, and background are most important in a character, it can’t be denied that physical appearance is something we don’t want to leave out.  Being able to picture a character in your mind while reading a story gives you a visual for that character and helps to bring them to life.  That’s why, when adapting a book into a movie, the given descriptions of book characters should always be noted and acted upon.

The “perfect” bad example is The Lightning Thief, a movie based off of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.  Annabeth Chase is our beloved female protagonist, and is described multiple times throughout the books as having blonde hair and grey eyes.  Although the movie was a disaster in every way (as far as a book “adaption”, in any case), the mistake that sticks out the most is the actress chosen to play Annabeth.  Alexandria Daddario was chosen to portray Annabeth as a brunette with bright blue eyes.  Needless to say, the description that Rick Riordan gave Annabeth in the book was ignored entirely.


The way Annabeth is attacking Percy = how we feel about directors not following character descriptions clearly stated.

The movie adaption of Everything, Everything, a novel by Nicola Yoon, is an excellent example of character likeness done right.  Maddy and Olly, our dear protagonists, are both cast nearly perfectly. Each can be recognized for exactly the character they were meant to be.  And although the book is nearly always better, movie Olly and Maddy do their book counterparts a considerable justice.

Directors: Please do not ignore what is sitting right in front of you, written clearly on paper. The physical appearance of a character may not be the most important aspect of who they are, but it does play a part in how we perceive them and how they are portrayed in our minds.  


The reason why book-to-screen adaptations often fall under scrutiny is it suffers under the pressure of Goldilocks syndrome. If too familiar to a reader, the story resurfaces bland in the viewer's mind, but if too different, then readers will cause a havoc over the entire plot line. (Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, anyone?) Stories, whatever medium presented, need to engage with the audience. If the text is so familiar, injecting backstory into the characters and other traits of the story not explicitly stated but built on helps keep it engaging.

One example that comes to mind is Anne With an E. To some, the differences are mind boggling and disgrace what the books stood for, and while I agree that some changes are unnerving, for a lack of better words, it must be kept in mind that this is an adaptation.


In the TV series, Gilbert is also given some backstory. For this scene, this makes me squeal it involved a spelling competition and when Gilbert says this, it makes me see die on the inside because he did misspell purposefully for her sake (seeing she's uncomfortable up there for reasons) and also Anne, who's sensitive about the spelling, is spelled with an E. Sorry for this fangirl moment but they are so cute!

In the television series, the eponymous character has a gritty backstory shown while in the series it is only briefly mentioned and it flows into the "present day" of the storyline. Anne suffered from abuse in her previous household, the Hammonds, as well as in the orphanage, when a group of girls cornered and dangled a mouse above her head to tell her to stop talking about Princess Cordelia. This never happened in the books. Jerry, the Cuthberts' farm hand, also plays a more predominant role in the show when in the books he's hardly mentioned at all.

Why make these changes? Why add backstory to the characters that isn't stated in the book? What is the meaning of that? 

Adaptations, while based on a source material, do not have to follow the source dogmatically-- they just need to keep the spirit of the books alive. Take it like melody chords transposed to another key with sharps and flats not initially there before; while it retains the same shape, the dissonance is strikingly intriguing. In the case of Anne: yes, she endured those hardships, and it makes you feel bad. She shouldn't have to suffer through that. But her easy rapport with those closest to her, her never ceasing optimism and imaginative self are still there. The essence of her character is still there, and because she endured through those hardships, it just makes me want to root for her more. Those positive qualities and her flaws (she has bantering moments with Jerry showing the not as pretty side of her) help make her a realistic three-dimension character.

Many more adaptations come to mind: nothing in the original Beauty and the Beast fairytale dictated Belle loved books now, did it? While more uncommon, sometimes drawing in too many plot points from a story can bog the film engagement (but increase the length of the movie) but a ton-- the removal of Peeves and SPEW from the various Harry Potter movies are two notable examples.


Are there any other points to add in regards to book-to-movie adaptations? What's your favorite or least favorite adaptations, and which ones are you looking forward to? Would you like to do a bookish (or non-bookish) collab, too?

24 comments:

  1. AHHH, MY TWO FAVORITE ANNAS! <3 I loved this post, so so much. Best collab so far! ;)

    YASSS, EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING WAS PERf. <3 I enjoyed The Maze Runner movies a lot, almost more than the books... *whispers* We have a love/hate relationship.

    I don't think anything can beat The Hunger Games movies, though. Those were outstanding.

    I could talk about books all day, so I would totally be opened to doing a bookish collab! :) Great post, ladies.

    xx Mackenzie

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    1. THERE ARE SO MANY GREAT ANNAS IN THE BLOGGING WORLD IT'S HARD TO KEEP TRACK!

      I haven't seen Everything, Everything yet (or read the book-- yes, I know you're going to scold at me in a matter of days but it's something that I will get to pretty soon, I promise). The Maze Runner series is like okay??? The first book was great but once it got to the third book I felt just a wave of emotions (*chokes* NEWT).

      The Hunger Games movies were a pretty good adaptation. Is it a bad time to say that I haven't seen the first movie? It's super weird, because I wasn't allowed to read or watch the books for awhile until my middle school ended up having a field trip to watch Catching Fire, which then I was allowed to divulge into the series. It's super hard to find a channel that has The Hunger Games, and since our DVD player isn't working and we don't really have a streaming service, I'm still practically out of ways to watch it.

      Oooh, okay! I'll contact you about that once I get back from my trip. xD

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

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    1. *insert evil laugh* Plotting to take over my blog much?

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  3. This was such a wonderful collab I am kind of in awe. Awesome post! Sometimes book to movie adaptions can annoy me to no end because I almost always notice when they change something from the book and it kind of make me freak out. This post looked so professionally amazing. Like the pictures. Just awesome.

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    1. Me too-- it freaks me out so much whenever they make changes. For example, the ending of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children? I'm so angry about what they did to the ending. The ending of the first book is so symbolic and shows a sign of unity despite everything that took place in the climax. And eeep, thank you! Anna from Annaish took a ton of the good looking minimalist photos-- she has a ton more from her blog. Meanwhile, Anna of Lethologica has some quirky photography with their own charm. They're both amazing photographers. <3

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

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  4. This was such a wonderful collab!!! I always get a tiny bit worried when I hear that one of my favorite books is being turned into a movie, as I am often really disappointed by movie adaptions.

    I think that the Harry Potter series has amazing movie adaptions! There are definitely a few things that could be improved (ex. Ginny not having a personality in the movies, that scene in the fourth movie with Dumbledore and the Goblet of Fire) but overall, they're truly magical adaptions.

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    1. Me too! One of the adaptations I'm worried incredibly about is Wonder-- it's one of my favorite middle grade books ever and I really hope they do it justice. It's such an important book with an important message and while it may be a bit confusing to narrate the story exactly how it is in the book (with specific characters talking about how Auggie impacted their lives, like Miranda, for example), I just want it to be good.

      Harry Potter does have some amazing movie adaptations, but I agree some things could be improved. Another thing that irked me was that the movies never established who the Half-Blood Prince was-- we know it's Snape, but the movie never made it clear as to why the name is the Half-Blood Prince which is so important, it makes me mad). I can forgive them somewhat, though-- like it was said in the post, some books have so much content to the point it has to be cut to not have the duration time extend three hours (and the Goblet of Fire is LONG).

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

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  5. DUDE. THE PERCY JACKSON ADAPTION JUST... KILLED ME. In the Sea of Monsters, Kronos LITERALLY CAME TO LIFE, when that doesn't happen until the freakin' last book??? And omg Annabeth is one of my favorite characters and they just RUINED her. Where is the blonde hair and grey eyes??? And while it was cool that Grover was black -- it did NOT fit the description of fair skin and red hair. Like... ugh.

    Great post! These are definitely great ways to do a book-to-movie adaption JUST RIGHT. :P

    may @ forever and everly

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    1. THE SECOND MOVIE WAS NOT OKAY AT ALL. I can't believe that they also dyed Annabeth's hair in the second-- like, if you messed it up, at least be consistent??? Or better yet, DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME. The thing about "reaching twenty-one against all odds" irked me so much too. Excuse me? The appeal of the books was that it was a young protagonist! That's why the series was so good then.

      As for Grover, I was kind of okay. His personality was retained to the character and he was probably the only person that resembled the most to his counterpart (Percy seems a bit too serious in the movie-- have fun and LOOSEN UP, CHILD!), that's why I can kind of forgive how he's portrayed, but still. FOLLOW THE BOOK.

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

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  6. The Percy Jackson adaption was officially the worst. Another one I hated was the City of Bones movie. It was just ugh. Alec seemed way too old and Izzy was not cast right. Oh and Alec was in a coma like the whole movie. I'm pretty sure that didn't happen in the books. The Harry Potter ones were done well though.

    - FiFi
    beyondthedysphoria.blogspot.com

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    1. They messed up the first time, and then the second time, the Percy Jackson adaptations messed up again. I haven't seen any adaptations for the Mortal Instruments, although several people I talked to were super mispleased about how the characters and plot line went for Shadowhunters. Some people rationalized that they changed the plot of the sake of the story making more sense, but I can't make that judgement. And yes-- if any adaptation needs to be followed well, Harry Potter is a good example to follow. I kind of want to maybe point out The Princess Bride follows its book counterpart, but I haven't seen it either. *flails*

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

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    2. I've seen shadowhunters and it's done well but not to the plot which I don't mind too much. I know they have budgets and everything.

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    3. Yeah, budgets can mess around with how TV shows are produced sometimes, but they work with what they work with.

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  7. i love this post! i really want to watch Anne with an E now!

    one of my favorite book-to-movie adaptations is the hunger games series! i mean, the actors are amazing, but can we talk about the costumes and sets in that movie? flawless.

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    1. Anne With an E is so good. <3 If you watch it, let me know what you think and we can talk about it!

      Yes, the Hunger Games series is SO GOOD. Despite not watching the first movie, I love their costumes-- it has that zany vibe presented in the books, and seeing Katniss's dress come to life = LOVE.

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

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  8. Anna squared, I love it!
    I really like all the banners in the post; Very creative.

    There's one example of a bad book to movie adaptation but for the life of me I can't remember it. It's on the tip of my tongue but as hard as I try I can't remember it.

    If I do, I'll come back and let you know.

    Lovely series!

    Steph
    www.socialspying.com

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    1. Haha, Anna squared was what I was going to mention in the title, but I kind of shied away from it at the last post. I'm glad you like the banners!

      If you figure out the title of that book-to-movie adaptation, let me know! I'd love to discuss it with you. Thanks, Steph!

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

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  9. Love this post soooo much!!!
    http://imyimyimy.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Thanks, Imogen!!! <3

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

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  10. This was so interesting to read! I think book to movie adaptations can be somewhat controversial as people can become so attached to writing and want it to be portrayed well.

    I've recently watched 'Anne with an E' on Netflix and thought Gilbert was portrayed wonderfully; the spelling scene was adorable!

    I'd love to collab with you; if you're interested, pop me an email with the contact page on my blog!

    Lauren | Sincerely, Lauren Emily

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    1. I do agree with you that people become attached to what they read and how they want things to be portrayed-- thus my frustration over how Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children ended up as.

      Gilbert is adorable! While they did change the storyline, I am excited how they'll take the Anne and Gilbert romance-- I do think they can portray it and make it match the books a bit closer (as Anne clinging onto her idealistic idea of romance is what kept them apart from getting together easily in the series). The spelling bee scene was adorable, although abbot offputting with the teacher saying words to describe Prissy Andrews.

      I'll be sure to send you an email, Lauren! Just give me a few more days-- I'm currently on vacation at the moment.

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

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  11. BOOK ADAPTATIONS ARE SO HARD TO JUDGE?! I know that movies get a bad rep especially if they're based on YA books!

    I can't say that I hate any book adaptation severely because hello, movies take effort and time, but I have been disappointed! Plot is definitely a big thing for me, especially if plot outlines are cut and not taken account for.

    I can't wait for Wonder, though! I loved the book and the movie seems promising.

    - andrea at a surge of thunder

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    1. THEY ARE SO HARD TO JUDGE YES THEY ARE *nods solemnly*

      Movies do take time and carefully artistry-- however, why make such drastic changes to the plot? WHY CAN'T THE SOURCE BEING ADAPTED BE WHAT'S BEING DEVELOPED IN ALL THAT TIME. Still super salty about Miss Peregrine's.

      I really hope Wonder turns out beautifully-- and indeed, it shall. I believe in it and have the utmost faith.

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

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