A recent Examiner article links to a note from J.D Salinger elucidating why the author never exploited the valuable film rights to Catcher in the Rye. Among the many reasons, he said: “ for me the weight of the book is in the narrator’s voice…” Thinking that Holden could never be accurately represented onscreen, he opted not to have the book adapted.
After this morning’s Oscar announcements, in which four of the ten nominations for best picture are going to films that were adapted from books, I got to wondering. Of the four, I’ve only seen Up in the Air, a book I would say certainly relies heavily on the narrator’s voice. And that movie was pretty great. It’s often said that films taken from books don’t come close to the greatness of the original. I would have to say I disagree. I think that they’re very different vehicles that serve the same purpose–to tell a story.
No matter how that’s done, so long as it’s done well, there needn’t be this sort of black and white debate. Do film adaptations always trump books? Do books always trump the film adaptation? I don’t think we necessarily need to choose.
What are your thoughts?