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I found LOTR adaptations somehow ham-fisted. Still decent movies, but most characters lost depth (i.e., Denethor turning into clear-cut villain), many of the plot changes made little sense, and I suspect the meaning of the word subtlety is lost on Peter Jackson.

Still, entertaining, technically well-made movies that made fantasy more mainstream. 7/10.

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Although better than the dreadful Star Wars Prequels, LOTR was little more than a series of summer blockbusters wrapped in Tolkien.

Which were all released in December. ;)

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I've lost count of how many adaptations where I've seen great books turned into shitty or just-okay or completely-unidentifiable movies or TV shows.

Truth is, there's a million ways to get it wrong and only a few ways to get it right. You need to be faithful to the original material, but not slavish to the point of ignoring the fact that you're working in a different media. You need to cast someone who looks the part, but most importantly someone who can act the part. You need to make changes to make it work cinematically, but you can't fall into action movie tropes. And if you've got a giant cast, you have to figure out who to keep and who to get rid of and which characters have to be combined into one. Then you have to consider the HUGE task of a visual palette, which can change the tone of everything the author intended - in a good way or a terrible way.

As a fan of the original material, the most important thing you can do is have an open mind. No amount of bitching is going to stop the adaptation from happening. So obsessively watching the preproduction and increasingly growing worried over casting, script leaks and potential problems is just going to make certain that you lose any objectivity.

Wait for it to come out. See it with an open mind. And then ask yourself, "did it work?" Chances are, no matter how it turns out, you'll always love the original better - because it was what you loved in the first place. Since adaptations are almost always made to reach a larger, non-reading audience, you have to brace yourself for people who only know what they saw on the screen. But no matter what happens, no adaptation is going to ruin the original work in your heart - unless you let it.

Which is why you have the phrase "the book is so much better" in regards to pretty much every adaptation.

Here's a couple of adaptations that give me hope:

Dexter - No two ways about it. The show is actually better than the books. Of course, the books aren't great by anyone's stretch of the imagination (like ASOIAF), but it does prove that a cable series can absolutely pull of a serious, grown-up adaptation.

Silence of the Lambs - Easily my vote for the best adaptation of all time. 5 star book and a 5 star movie. Both the book and the film take maximum advantage of their mediums. The novel's prose flows perfectly into genuine thrills and the movie brings Hannibal, Starling and everyone else to life in a way that the novel could never touch.

Of course, for every one of those, there are a million that don't work as well or just plain suck. But you have to hope for the best. From what I've read, no one involved at HBO or GRRM is doing this because they hope for any less than a great adaptation.

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Which were all released in December. ;)

That is summer in New Zealand! 8)

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The two adaptations I've been privy to as a reader have been LOTR and HP.

LOTR

I thought Jackson & Co. did a fantastic job adapting the stories overall, although I thought their performance slipped in The Two Towers and Return of the King. I didn't mind the changes they made to Arwen's character. I didn't like the changes they made to Faramir (turning him into a more noble Boromir instead of a more noble Denethor) and I absolutely detested the changes they made to Denethor (making him bat shit crazy from the get go, which turned him into a pathetic character instead of a tragic one, and which totally messed up the contrast Tolkien implicitly draws between Theoden's and Denethor's responses to insurmountable odds). And I thought the removal of the Scouring of the Shire turned the story from the epic it was written into a plain movie. That being said, I think the high notes the movies hit more than made up for the missteps they made.

For me the books are clearly superior to the movies, although Tolkien does write in an older, classical style that may be unpalatable to many modern readers with TV-conditioned attention spans. Personally, I didn't mind it. The themes Tolkien deals with -- like the nature of power, the seeming futility of hope, the nature of evil, the consequences of alienation from nature -- and the depth with which he treats them make the series a true classic on par with the best Shakespearean tragedies.

HP

My favorite HP movie is the 3rd one, The Prisoner of Azkaban. It takes some liberties with the source material, but in ways that help it retain overall faithfulness to Rowling's vision and themes. The first two films basically reproduced the books. I thought they were pretty good, but their extreme faithfulness to their source material severely limited their range and potential, since Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets are clearly the simplest and most made-for-kids of all the books. The 4th movie, Goblet of Fire, was a travesty. If I hadn't read the books I'd probably have enjoyed it -- it was an entertaining film. But since I did read the books I realized that the director basically focused on a third of the story to the detriment of the rest, which included some major plot points. This last point -- the neglecting of major plot points -- is a characteristic shared by the following two films, sadly. Several major points in Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince that are crucial to the story were left out, and the following films are (and likely will be) poorer because of that. They either don't mention them at all or, more often, introduce them in ham-fisted fashion. The 6th movie, which included some of the best scenes in any of the movies to date, was an especially egregious offender on this count.

All this said, I have high hopes for AGOT. The adaptation will be episodic by nature, which allows for fuller treatment of characters and story lines that films just have not time for. Martin's style also translates to the screen better than either Tolkien's or Rowling's. And HBO has a great track record with making high quality shows. I'm not on board with all the changes D & D appear to be making, but that's okay. What I have trouble with in theory I may like once I see it. As long as they get the big things right, and as long as the adaptations they make are faithful to the tone, themes and storyline of Martin's work, I'll be happy. So far, things seem to be going quite well.

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The first movie I remember knowing was in production and being really excited about it was Martin Scorsese's adaption of Edith Wharton's novel The Age of Innocence as it was one of my favorite novels. But this was back in the early 1990s and it was much harder to get information about movies - let alone find other like minded people - outside of what was published in the newspapers and magazines. So I waited patiently and hoped for the best and then went with great trepidation to the movie theater and just held my breath the entire movie. It was a pretty flawless execution of the novel. Scorsese did an outstanding job. A few changes were made to the story - a few minor characters eliminated and the name of the son changed - but none of them detracted from Wharton's story. Definitely one of the best adaptions I've ever seen.

I was a big fan of the Narnia books when I was young so I was pretty excited when I heard they were going to be making the first one into a movie. I would have enjoyed squeeing and discussing with people during the production period but I never did find the right community for me to do so. So I sort of squeed to myself and kept up on the filming news and crossed my fingers. I thought they did a pretty great job with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and I also enjoyed Prince Caspian as well. And now I'm really looking forward to The Voyage of the Dawn Treader as it is my favorite book in the series. Still just lurk on Narnia boards for filming info, I'm resigned to just enjoying this fandom by myself.

The one movie adapted from a favorite book that I was really looking forward to but ended up not even seeing was The Dark is Rising that was supposed to be based on Susan Cooper's novel of the same name. I was initially really excited as I'd been thinking for years that it would make a fabulous movie. And at this point so many faithful adaptions of beloved children's books were being made - Harry Potter, Golden Compass, Narnia - that there was no reason to think it would be anything less than good. The first stills released from the filming looked promising. But then word began to leak out about all the changes they had made to the story and then the full horror of what they had done began to set in. And then the cast started doing interviews to promote the movie and it became really clear this movie retained very little of what made the book so fabulous. Not one of the people I know who was excited for this movie ended up going to see it. I just pretend it doesn't exist.

Now I'm holding my breath for the first movie in the Percy Jackson & The Olympians series - The Lightning Thief. The fact that they have apparently aged all the main characters up from 11 to late teens/early 20s does not bode well. I guess they are trying to go for the Twilight teens instead of the kid crowd? But its got a great supporting cast from Sean Bean to Pierce Brosnan and Uma Thurman so we shall see *crosses fingers*

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Oh god...

I thought the film adaptation of The Silence of the Lambs was very not great, compared to the book. The end felt completely contrived in the movie. It was such a shame.

However, Anthony Hopkins.

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Fair enough as a reason not to like it - but I suggest this is a problem with your stomach, not with the books.

[snip]

so saying that it improves on the books or tells their story better is nonsense.

[snip]

but if somebody then said "well, I've not got the stomach to read three pages of amateur philosophy, so the film told the story far better than Borges did", they would clearly be talking nonsense.

[snip]

Ahhhh. Perhaps this should be put in your sig, so that innocent readers can have it as the small print to your other views? Certainly, that opinion goes a good way to explaining your Tolkien opinions.

[snip]

Ah! You DO have some taste!

Stop being a dick. He doesn't like LoTR, so you have to talk down to him? I'm not a huge fan of LoTR either, you going to criticize my taste now too?

As for the LoTR adaptations: Arwen was complete bullshit, and Bombadil shouldn't have been cut.

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I'd be extremely reluctant to use adaptations of anything else out there as a predictor of the adaptation of ASOIAF. Comparing it to the LOTR adaptations in particular seems pretty silly to me, as the styles of the two differ so greatly. Tolkien was sprawling, omniscient, completely free-form, drifting here and there as he pleases, ignoring any and all dramatic conventions, telling the story he wants to tell the way he wants to tell it. That's not a criticism - I love LOTR - but as written, the books are completely unfilmable. It just wouldn't work. The thought of adapting them into a script is almost too overwhelming to comprehend, and all told I think Jackson did about as good a job as could be done while still making a movie that could possibly have any appeal to anyone but the most hardcore of Tolkien purists.

Martin is very different. Rigidly subjective POV's creating a you-are-there immediacy, a strong sense of economy of words, a practiced rhythmic buildup of tension with action beats along the way: let's just say that when I first learned that Martin had experience in Hollywood, I was not the least bit surprised. His structure and pacing are impeccable, the best of any fantasist I've ever read by a mile. Converting his books to script form will be more of a translation than an adaptation, the only real difficulty being the handling of internal monologue (which I think will be less of an issue than most people presume, as talented actors can handle much of this workload without ever having to say a word). I'm actually envious of the people getting to write these scripts, because it's the sort of situation where the words would just flow (I'm pretty sure I already have all the pieces for the script of the season finale floating somewhere around in my head).

This will sound strange because of the radically different genres, but the appropriate sort of adaptation to compare ASOIAF to is something like High Fidelity, which (apart from the transplantation from London to Chicago, which was strangely transparent anyway) very nearly copied to the letter from its source material (going so far as to recreate much of the internal monologue by having John Cusack talk directly to the camera, as that's where so much of the wit existed in the book). It worked, because Hornby wrote (as he usually does) with sensibilities and rhythms that are very compatible with those of filmmaking. Most of the high profile adaptations in recent years simply can't say that (although I admit I have never read Harry Potter, for which it may very well be at least partially true).

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Comparing it to the LOTR adaptations in particular seems pretty silly to me, as the styles of the two differ so greatly.

Nobody is comparing the LoTR and ASoIaF adaptations. I believe the OP asked how did we react in past instances to beloved books adapted to film or TV, so some of us came up (obviously) with LoTR.

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Nobody is comparing the LoTR and ASoIaF adaptations. I believe the OP asked how did we react in past instances to beloved books adapted to film or TV, so some of us came up (obviously) with LoTR.

I'm also interested in what occurred on various blogs and internet discussions regarding these adaptations. The whole "Being there before it even starts filming" phenomenon is new to me. Regarding LORD OF THE RINGS, the reaction to the leaked "Xenarwen" fight scene and the subsequent change in the final movie version (whether TheOneRing.net was directly responsible for the change or not is debatable) is one of the things I find interesting.

I'm also curious how much stuff leaked out. Like were there weekly newsbreaks and leaks during filming? It seems like there's a balance - the more technology we have, the tighter companies try to put a lid on things.

As to LotR: what was the internet reaction to the news that the role of Aragorn had been recast at the last minute?

With the sprawling cast GAME OF THRONES has, I can't imagine one role or two won't be recast.

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As to LotR: what was the internet reaction to the news that the role of Aragorn had been recast at the last minute?

I felt sorry for Townsend. He missed out on a mega-blockbuster because his low-grade Anne Rice adaptation ran long (if memory serves; someone correct me if not). At least he got to work with Aaliyah. I thought it was for the better in the end though; Mortensen seems more likely to be "old and grizzled veteran ranger" to me. My wife thought it was an upgrade in eye-candy, too (like A- to A+ mind you), though that certainly varies depending on who you ask.

Interesting point about the recasting. I don't know if we'd see it happening right away, pilot shooting is right around the corner and I think the potential commitments are already in contracts, right? It wouldn't surprise me at all down the road. I almost think un-Cat would have to be a different actress, mainly because that role (at this time anyway) seems like a waste on Ehle.

Once GoT production stills and concept art start leaking, I will have a whole new slew of desktop images.

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Is the complaint against Arwen the fact that she was there at all (her role in the books is miniscule at best)? Or that, for a while (until the fans rose up) she was fighting at Helm's Deep?

Were most of the anti-Arwen howlers sated once her Xenarrific scene at Helm's Deep was taken out?

Sorry about the delay, I forget about this forum at times. :)

Right then, the purists (a group which has never included me) were upset at the deviation from the book - BOTH that Arwen was at HD AND that she was fighting. They felt that this was not in line with how they viewed her as a character. And yes, there was massive relief from that quarter when they read that those scenes had been cut. And that partly cam about because of those fans, because PJ was in touch with the obsessive fans and wanted to see how they felt about major changes to the source material.

The book purists could be definined by a total inability to accept any changes at all to the story as it was printed. It didn't matter whether they improved it or not - it was unacceptable to them. A good general example is where dialogue was switched between characters because the writers thought basically, that they DID want to use as much of the original material as possible and sometimes they achieved this by taking dialogue from one section of the book and giving to a different character, or taking material from the appendices and putting it into the timeline of the story.

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As to LotR: what was the internet reaction to the news that the role of Aragorn had been recast at the last minute?
Excitement and relief. Although some people had their hearts set on DDD. We'd heard rumours that something wasn't quite right about ST and those of us that had seen Viggo acting before felt like this was going to be an improvement.

I'm speaking as someone who was on TORn at the time - just in case I didn't say that already.

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Excitement and relief. Although some people had their hearts set on DDD. We'd heard rumours that something wasn't quite right about ST and those of us that had seen Viggo acting before felt like this was going to be an improvement.

I'm speaking as someone who was on TORn at the time - just in case I didn't say that already.

Thanks, both of you! And yep, your discussion was what made me create this thread. Those were the kinds of insights I was looking for.

So how soon into shooting did stuff start leaking onto the internet, if any was leaked early at all?

Did TheOneRing.net get any exclusives?

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I felt sorry for Townsend. He missed out on a mega-blockbuster because his low-grade Anne Rice adaptation ran long (if memory serves; someone correct me if not).

I believe it was "creative differences." He was on set for a few weeks, but I suspect Jackson wasn't getting what he wanted. Townsend seems like a decent actor, but he did seem too young. Didn't bring enough "weight" of time with him, as Viggo did. Viggo just seems like an old soul.

Kind of off topic, but one of my favorite stories from the LOTR set was Viggo's first day. He just walked on set without speaking to anyone (in costume), found a dark corner, and started smoking his pipe. :) That and how he got fitted for his costume and then went hiking up in the muddy hills with it, sword and all.

Back on topic, wasn't Legend of the Seeker an adaptation embraced by the fans since the creators collaborated with the author and his (my)star pupil? :leaving:

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I'm amused by the story about Viggo kissing Billy Boyd. Search for it on Youtube. It's great :)

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Those stories are on the LotR Extended Edition special features (which are vast, I think added together they're longer than the 11 hours of the trilogy itself), along with many others. Like the bus that Viggo Mortensen and Bernard Hill used to get made up on which they spent a lot of time wondering if it could actually move, so on the last day of filming they drove it into the studio and went around giving the stunt guys celebratory head-butts.

There's also the great story that Sean Bean, whilst presumably used to flying to exotic locations (and Belfast ;) ) for roles, apparently had major problems with flying up into the mountains on a helicopter for the scenes where the Fellowship are hiding from Saruman's spies and Frodo drops the Ring. Apparently after one buttock-clenching flight through windy mountain valleys, Bean decided he couldn't do it again and would get up hours before anyone else, get made up and costumed, and then hike to the shooting location, arriving there just in time for everyone else to land in the helicopters. That's pretty hardcore.

Back on topic, wasn't Legend of the Seeker an adaptation embraced by the fans since the creators collaborated with the author and his (my)star pupil?

No, they hate it because the TV series has absolutely nothing to do with the books, aside from using them as 'inspiration'. In addition, TG 'fired' the heads of his websites because he wanted new blood to come in with the TV series and the new books, an act which has really gone down badly in some of the fan communities and left the fanbase in a state of, perhaps not disarray, but certainly bewilderment.

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Only two things were wrong with LotR movies.

1. Elves at Helm's Deep instead of Rangers.

2. Army of the Big Green Fart Cloud at Pelenor Fields instead of the Rangers.

The HP movies will be forever sullied for turning Harry into a emo wet noodle who has to break into tears atleast once a movie.

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Dune

The David Lynch movie is an atrocity. Only redeeming feature in it is Sting as Feyd Rautha Harkonnen. The story was butchered into this piece of crap movie.

The Sci Fi channel/Hallmark mini-series though, that one I absolutely loved. Granted, it lacked somewhat in the special effect department (even though it won awards for it's special effect), but overall it was a much better and more accurate adaptation.

I agree wholeheartedly about Lynch's Dune VS sci-fi's Dune. Sci-Fi's felt truer to the narrative/feeling of the book. I dig Lynch, but his Dune was too ambitious for the time. The effects weren't there. And watching the film in theaters required a "glossary" handout when it first hit theaters. (Yeah, I'm dating myself with that one).

Though the sci-fi channel version was better, I don't know if Dune will ever be able to translate to the big screen or even in a miniseries fully and wholly. With the new adaptation/remake in the works, it might just be a huge set-up to yet another anti-Iraq war protest dressed up in a thin Herbert narrative. I don't think it can be done in 2 hours.

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